Considerations for International Paid Social Media Marketing

In today’s connected world, businesses are no longer limited to turning to their local populations for prospective customers. Advertising internationally, however, comes with an entirely new set of considerations. Different time zones, creative localization and potential issues with ad delivery are all common pitfalls. Different time zones create the potential for ads to run at the wrong times (i.e. in the middle of the night). Although many social campaigns are “always on,” for campaigns with day-parting, having the wrong start and end times can be extremely detrimental. If ads are intended to surround a particular event, missing the intended start time, ending too early or too late can also be a bad look for the brand. 

Creative localization is crucial to ensuring that the foreign audience understands the ad and isn’t accidentally offended. Words can have different meanings in other cultures, and solely relying on the internet for translation may result in the message getting twisted. While top spending advertisers are able to lean on social platform partners and/or foreign colleagues who can help navigate these areas, smaller media buyers (AKA anyone who can’t afford an agency) have to get innovative by reaching out to native speakers and/or cultural experts who can best advise. Social media platforms are perhaps the most complex channels to leverage internationally as they are both inherently conversational and visually driven. There are therefore more opportunities to overlook content customization for the foreign market.

When entering a new market, it can be easy to assume there are just as many addressable consumers as back home. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Even when the product or service is universally applicable, international daily active users for practically all social platforms pale in comparison to the North American market. In light of the often smaller audience sizes, marketers may make the mistake of not bidding aggressively enough to get their ad served. Depending on the advertiser, under-delivery (not spending in full) can actually be worse than below-benchmark performance. 

Overall, focusing on the target audience is the key to success for any paid social campaign, domestic and foreign alike. Keeping the consumer at the forefront of all media planning serves to act as a reminder to adjust the launch and end dates, change out the copy or video assets and to closely monitor delivery to ensure that ads are spending in full. Running an international social media campaign does not have to be a daunting task. With consistent communication between all parties and a clear objective, many brands can and will find success abroad.

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5 Comments

  1. Hi there!

    Yes, I agree. I specialize in paid social media campaigns through FB and IG and it is crucial to nail down the audience you wish to advertise to and what time you wish to conduct the advertisements. I always start my campaigns at midnight in the U.S. as the algorithm will know when to spend your budget efficiently.

  2. Lovely blog post! Something as small as start and end time for an ad campaign can easily be overlooked, but is super important. For my own analytics on my business Instagram, I found that my followers are most active between 11am-1pm on weekdays, so I intentionally post then. And run paid ads during the week.
    Something else to consider when doing paid social media ads abroad is employing social media influencers in your selected country. They already speak the lingo and could give some helpful insight into how to most effectively talk to your target audience!

  3. How would a company measure the success of an international social media campaign? Has there been any studies on what “social media” metrics translate into sales? When looking at Twitter analytics I would assume “Total engagements” is far more important than views.

  4. Thanks for the blog! I find it very interesting how paid social digital marketing has really enabled many companies to go global and make our world so interconnected. I also work in paid social media campaigns through Instagram and LinkedIn, and I find it so fascinating how the technology and algorithms have enabled campaigns to be launched so much for efficiently and effectively, so that you’re reaching your target audience. However, the importance of a well-made and focused paid social campaign is always crucial.

  5. I have never thought about the time zone differences for starting and end-times in social media advertising. I can definitely see the importance of that…it is also important to determine the relevant use of social media in advertising across countries. In some countries, such as Germany, advertising on Facebook does not have the same ROI as it does in the US.

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