The days of catering exclusively to the customers in a single nation are over.

Business is naturally becoming more of an international endeavor. Domestic multi-national corporations are beginning to see their financial balance of power shift from customers inside the borders to outside of them. Since the majority of the growth seen by the companies on the S&P 500 today comes from overseas, it is imperative that companies develop strategies that work not only within but also outside of the United States.

The first step in driving sales in a foreign country must be clear communication, particularly with the customer base. One growing solution to the need to share a message in foreign countries is the use of social media. According to a Jive Software survey of over 300 companies, companies that use social media:

  • Sell more of their product to new customers
  • Have an increased brand awareness
  • Retain a higher number of their existing customers
  • Create and capture more new ideas

Social media may well be the key to gaining market share. A recent McKinsey report states that companies increase their share in the market "by forging closer marketing relationships with customers and by involving them in customer support and product-development efforts (as well as)…collaborate across organizational silos and to share information more broadly.”  Content shared freely through social networking has the potential to inform and influence customers on an ongoing basis, unlike an email exchange which dispenses the information and then dies with the stroke of a delete key.

One Language, Multiple Problems

The biggest roadblock to sharing your social media message in perpetuity is, of course, the fact that it's written in English. As multi-national companies open new markets in foreign countries, a difficult decision presents itself: Either you ask your employees and customer base to operate in your native language, which has the potential to miss vital information and context from the native language, or you begin to address the challenges of translation.

The story told by the numbers is compelling. A mere 31% of all online use takes place in English, and that number is on the downhill slide. 70% of internet users visit languages in their native language. And then comes the most important number: $448 billion worth of goods and services are purchased on the internet. There is no way for an international company to ignore the language issue and expect to remain competitive.

A Single Translation Choice is No Choice at All

Not all types of translation will do the job efficiently, either. Sending all of your content to a professional agency for translation is expensive, time consuming and in many cases not feasible. Having the ability to triage your content and translate it based on how important it is to your company, whether that be an instant machine translation, an efficient crowdsourced solution or professional translation, can yield faster, more cost-conscious results.

Open, Clear Communication Leads the Way

Localizing content is a key to being competitive internationally. It is only when translation can be fast and less expensive that companies will feel comfortable translating enough content to be able to reach its overseas customers. Once the localized content is available, a company is free to be able to use its social network to share its content and begin to provide greater value to the new, non-English market. This will naturally lead to business growth as customers are better able to engage with the company.

The time is right for companies to embrace the value available in content translation. Being able to direct the flow of localized content into social media holds the promise of greater company visibility and customer engagement, as well as yielding important financial benefits.

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading: