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2011 The Year of International Social Media

Over the past 10 years, English internet content grew only 281%, while Chinese internet content grew by 1,277%. Social media is one of the most significant factors contributing to content growth in all languages.

Global marketing and global social media will further increase the growth of online business, making 2011 a very successful year, with greater potential for increased revenues compared to previous years. I see rapid change in the global online scene and an exponential growth for online business opportunities, due to the dramatic expansion of internet usage in non English-speaking markets. The high growth rate of non-English internet content and usage is dramatically evident in a table displayed further down in this blog, under “The Internet languages in 2011.”

Online marketing opportunities depend not only on recently created new channels of communication, but also on how those channels are being developed to integrate with the rising number of online users beyond English-speaking markets. With the growing need for a digital solution, social media tools and networks, online business will have more potential for global growth in 2011 than in any previous year.

Although most online marketers are doing extensive research into international markets to determine if revenue potential warrants entry into certain markets, it must be kept in mind that any online marketer must “speak the same language” as the users in a target market locale in order to achieve success. In addition, online marketers must become aware of local trends in social media for non-English markets and be sensitive to cultural preferences in locale-based social media as well.

The Social Internet in 2011

Social media has become the core activity of internet marketing. Social media is now central to any effective business strategy and will affect recruiting, services, customer support, sales, etc. Companies will have to implement more effective social media strategies into their marketing plans in order to take the advantage of the “social effect” in the internet.

  • Social Shopping: up to three times more visitors will log on to a website using their Facebook account versus users who will register on an e-commerce website in the traditional manner. Companies will use social networking websites, particularly Facebook, to sell products within the social network of targeted local markets.
  • E-mail Marketing: 2011 will be the year in which social media extends the reach of e-mail campaigns to networks of influencers who share your content with their networks via updates.
  • Social Identify – Social ID: about three times more users will sign in with a social identity versus manually filling out a form on your website.
  • Social Media and Search Engines: search engines Bing and Google now incorporate social feeds and content, such as Facebook and Twitter updates. Some Twitter retweets are indexed by Google in as little as 80 seconds.

Mobile Internet

The mobile internet is the future of the web. Internet professionals are predicting that mobile devices will take over as the number one way to access the internet by 2013. But for 2011, the mobile share of internet users will represent a significant factor in terms of numbers and statistics, because most of the growth in this sector comes from markets that don’t use English as a primary language. The growth in mobile users will dramatically increase mobile shopping applications and online stores. Companies will have to develop more globalized social applications and profiles in different languages to reach non-English speaking mobile internet users in high-growth global markets.

Languages and regions will have a major impact on mobile online marketing and mobile advertising. Statistics reveal that languages like Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese are capturing an even larger share of global mobile consumers than previously expected.

The Internet Languages in 2011

High-growth, target locale languages will have a major effect on the internet in 2011. The table below shows some important growth numbers that are changing the map of the internet forever. The English language may even eventually lose its position as the official language of the internet. Companies will have to translate their content, applications and communications in order to capture market share in high-growth markets like China, India, Brazil, Japan, Russia and The Middle East.

TOP LANGUAGES IN THE INTERNET Internet Users by Language Internet Penetration by Language Growth in Internet (2000 – 2010) Internet Users % of Total
English 536,564,837 42.0% 281.2% 27.3%
Chinese 444,948,013 32.6% 1,277.4% 22.6%
Spanish 153,309,074 36.5% 743.2 % 7.8 %
Japanese 99,143,700 78.2 % 110.6 % 5.0 %
Portuguese 82,548,200 33.0 % 989.6 % 4.2 %
German 75,158,584 78.6 % 173.1 % 3.8 %
Arabic 65,365,400 18.8 % 2,501.2 % 3.3 %


Website translation and localization

“Content is king” is the tagline constantly used by Matt Cutts when he describes the best practices to obtain strong rankings and results with the Google search engine. To obtain better results in local searches, you always have your content “speak the language” of your local non-English speaking consumers. Surprisingly, many companies who are seeking better opportunities in international markets still continue to ignore content language or localization as a solution.

I will give an example how social media and geo-location tools are changing the services market. If you go to the coffee shop every morning to pick up your cup of coffee on your way to work, as soon as you get in your car heading to the coffee shop, your coffee order will be placed and ready when you arrive. That’s how services will be provided via “smart” devices. With customer expectations changing rapidly due to location-based search, you will need to be proactive in order for clients to find you. Use globalized social media and don’t wait for clients to reach you via traditional search engine queries. “Speak their language” (literally) and introduce your content and services in your global customers’ own language and culture.

Take a hard look at your website, if it is still English-only. International users from China or the Arab region may try to use some online translation tools to translate descriptions of your products or services. That is not a good solution for you for several reasons: (a) a lot of your content may be “lost in translation”, (b) your prices will remain in US dollars and (c) your product will have a translated description customized for the USA Market. There is a high risk that international customers will simply exit your website after a few minutes and migrate to another company’s website where content is provided in the customer’s native language.

Obviously, localized content with proper translation will be always the best solution for your online content and international business.

Translation and International Social Media

International social media requires more than just multilingual websites or content translation. You can capture a high return-on-investment (ROI) by expanding your business into new global markets, if you are willing to use globalized social media to extend your reach beyond English-speaking customers.

  • Translate your social messages and feeds to reach local markets and localize it to follow the local trends into each market.
  • Translate your Press Releases – this will help you to reach local news resources.
  • Translate your E-Mail campaigns and integrate them with social media tools like XING or LinkedIn groups to reach a wider audience and reap the rewards of social sharing tools.
  • Develop your multilingual keywords by using a combination of keywords localization, local trends and local market aspects to obtain better results, not only in local search engines but also to achieve your indexing in social media searches and bookmarking.