Planning to expand your business overseas? First things first, you would probably need to conduct a thorough social and cultural research on your target markets before you actually venture further, but how are you going to do that? Well, there’s the World Wide Web, but isn’t there simply too much information to start with, not to mention the issues on credibility. All of these are stumbling blocks which might prevent you from venturing further.
But the good news for businesses is that we’re living in the era of social media; more specifically social networking; which is fundamentally shifting the way the world communicates and how we look at information, with the advent of social networking sites, this new movement has paved the way for businesses to connect, engage and listen to real people on a global scale.
One name that is instantly associated with social networking is Facebook. Having only started in 2004 as an internal university network, it grew exponentially in the next couple of years. Presently, it offers more than 70 different translations and has recently hit 500 million registered users.
But before you start planning extravagant strategies using Facebook, it’s wiser to have an overview of the other social networks out there, especially the dominant social media networking sites in your target markets. Even though Facebook is generally the most popular social networking site in the world, a host of similar social networking sites still dominate the local social networking scenes in some of the most populous nations in the world.
Take China for instance, the most populous nation in the world. Its social networking scene is being dominated by QQ and Renren, with QQ boasting an astronomical number of 300 million users and counting.
Although Google’s Orkut never seemed to have hit off in most parts of the world, it is the number one social networking site in Brazil, which is listed in the fifth most populated nation in the world. Orkut was also previously the number one social networking site in India (2nd most populous nation in the world), but according to statistics from comscore, Facebook had recently overtaken them as number one in India.
Another competitor of Facebook, Hi-5; leads the charge in countries such as Mexico, Peru, Romania and Portugal.
Friendster who has lost its leadership position to Facebook, still holds a strong social presence in South East Asian countries like Indonesia and the Philippines.
According to statistics from socialnomics.com, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertisements. Businesses can now look into leveraging on the prevalent usage of social networking sites as a tool for analyzing social and cultural trends of their target markets.
The revolution of these social networking sites has certainly helped to erase borders and allow people from around the world to be easily connected, making the world a much smaller place.
Such is its ease of use that anyone with basic or little computer knowledge can easily sign up for membership on any of the available social networking sites and place their profile online for the whole world to see.
In terms of cost, it is perhaps the most cost effective platform out there for businesses to utilize as the cost of joining any social networking site and creating a business profile is usually free or at a low cost
With the participants of social networking sites being expected to grow even more exponentially in the next few years, the potential of social networking looks promising; considering the significant opportunities and the extent of its reach, businesses can tap on social networking sites to help expand their global presence.