Many of the large law firms continue their growth by opening offices in countries outside the U.S. This strategy enables firm’s to enhance their ability to service clients anywhere around the world. Global expansion, however, presents a unique set of challenges to law firms and others who for the most part, have focused their marketing and business development initiatives within the U.S.
When it comes to digital marketing and social media strategy, marketers need to understand the various social networks that are popular with consumers and businesses outside the United States. Social networks vary around the world and in this age of global law firms, marketers should keep this in mind. The global population is 7.5 billion people and of those 2.46 billion participate on a social network.
Facebook is the most popular social networks in the world with 2 billion monthly users. In fact, Facebook has become so successful that in some emerging markets such as Indonesia or Nigeria, individuals say they use Facebook, but not the Internet. A recent article suggests that the reason for this phenomenon is that in these countries many people access Facebook accounts on mobile phones and never follow links out to the open Internet.
The use of mobile devices to access the Internet and social networks continues to grow exponentially. This has contributed to the rise of platforms like WhatsApp?, an instant messaging service acquired by Facebook in Feb. 2014 and WeChat, which is popular in China.
In China, marketers face unique challenges when trying to market via social networks because the Chinese government blocks Facebook and Twitter, so as a result, the large Chinese population turns elsewhere. QZone, with customizable pages for blogs and personal diaries, is a popular social network in China . RenRen, which translates to “everyone’s website” is also very popular.
In Twitter’s absence the Chinese use Weibo as their micro-blogging platform of choice. In fact, the word Weibo means “microblog” in Chinese. It is one of the most popular sites in China. Weibo contains a lot of the same features as Twitter.
In accordance with Chinese law, Weibo is heavily censored and posts containing blacklisted keywords or politically sensitive points are typically deleted within 30 minutes. Lawyers are probably all too familiar with the legal ramifications of posting on the Internet and this knowledge can come in handy when navigating social media in other countries.
LinkedIn is also used around the world. However, in some countries, similar networks are now becoming popular for the business user. StayFriends, a popular social network in Germany, helps users keep in touch with classmates from primary school to high school. Another competitor, Xing functions similarly to LinkedIn and is used by people in more than 200 countries.
For those law firms looking to engage with Russian companies, VKontakte, or VK is the most popular social network in Russia with about 400 million accounts. VK is basically the Russian equivalent of Facebook. Another network, Odnoklassniki functions similarly to LinkedIn and helps people connect with old friends and classmates.
Other country specific social networks that should be taken into consideration include: Draugiem, a Latvian social network that is used so frequently it often replaces email. Suomi24 is the most popular social media site in Finland. Netlog is popular in Belgium. Madrid-based .Tuenti is known as the “Spanish Facebook” and is also popular as a mobile app in Mexico, Peru and Argentina.
Twitter is immensely popular in the United States and around large swaths of the globe and credited with starting the Arab Spring. The Muslim world also uses MyMFB, an alternative to Facebook.
There are many country-specific social networks, but like the salesman in “The Music Man” said, “ya gotta know the territory.” With the continuing trend towards globalization, legal marketers need to stay on top of the use of social networks by their clients and prospects across the world. Translating your content into different languages is no longer enough. In order to enhance your firm’s reach and engage with a global audience, legal marketers need to understand each market and learn how to engage with their audience.
Updated and republished July 28, 2017.