There’s plenty of hype about how you can use social media to build your company. Can you do it in international business?
In the United States, we’re told that if a business has a low marketing budget, it still can put up a Facebook page, for example, and profit from it. That remains to be seen.
But social media has been less effective for U.S. companies trying to sell goods and services overseas.
Many U.S. businesses struggle to achieve an acceptable ROI for their domestic social-media efforts. So can they possibly calculate what their posts and blogs are worth overseas? And can all the sites that follow social-media traffic, and report both the positive and negative posts back to their clients, prove to be effective in foreign markets?
Much in social media is about building and maintaining reputations. In overseas market entry, when we don’t have a direct sale attached, we can’t calculate the real return in our social-media business plan.
Business overseas is relationship-based. Social-media experts claim that firms can “Facebook” their way into a market. Is this true?
Experience shows that people in many countries use social media — not for creating new relationships, but more for maintaining existing ones.
A Denver salesperson said she has to have a huge presence on LinkedIn. She mentioned that firms will go to LinkedIn to evaluate products and companies extensively. After that research, a firm might contact a salesperson to buy goods or services.
This kind of thing simply doesn’t happen very often in, say, Asia or Europe. The idea that a stranger will find me, hire me and pay me might never occur.
People don’t google “accounting firms” in Ukraine, find one and then start paying them. They may do a Google search for a reputation check, and they may go on to Twitter or Facebook to see who you’re connected with. But the idea of making a new online “friend” and cutting a check doesn’t happen.
Also, in many foreign cultures, CEOs don’t make themselves public figures, as do many U.S. CEOs The cultures are more private. And these executives worry about being embarrassed more so than their U.S. counterparts.