International Social Media Sites for Canadian Businesses

Social media marketing is one of the easiest and least financially-demanding strategies your company can use to support sales internationally. Developing a reputable, engaging brand on social sites will funnel traffic to your website and promote sustainable growth in foreign markets. If you have physical operations within the country, it can also help to bring traffic to your location where they can further engage and become valued customers.

While many Canadian companies view social media platforms through a domestic lens, it’s also helpful to understand and engage on lesser-known international social sites.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube may dominate the North American market for social media users, but consumers in your target export markets might not utilize those platforms. There’s a wealth of international social media sites that cater towards Asian, European, and Latin American users. Companies need to be aware of these platforms if they wish to develop business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships in these regions.

Top International Social Media Sites to Engage Global Customers

So where should your business invest the time and resources to build an internationally-recognized social media presence? In addition to the top platforms mentioned above (especially Facebook with its 2.23 billion global users as of October 2018), consider looking into the top sites that influence your targeted export destination.

Related Post: Influencer Marketing Trends for Social Media Success

Below we’ve listed some of the biggest platforms you might not have heard of before. While these sites are not common in Canada, their ability to target users in foreign markets can have a significant impact on your export potential and sustainability within the region. If your company uses some that we haven’t shared here, feel free to leave a comment and let us know why it works for you!

Social Media Sites to Engage Asian Customers

Social media users in Asian countries have a diverse selection of social media sites to choose from. With many Chinese users unable to access sites common in North America, a plethora of sites specifically targeted towards these users have been developed. Asian social media sites need to be on your radar if exporting to this area, so where should your focus lie?

  1. Tencent QQ: With 803 million active monthly users, Tencent QQ (more commonly referred to as “QQ”) is China’s largest social media platform. It most resembles Facebook Messenger, where the vast majority of activity is conversations between users. Brands can establish groups where up to 200-500 people can join and participate in discussions, which makes for a unique marketing opportunity. Instead of a social media “push” of information, which resembles North American brand activity, a greater emphasis is put on attracting likeminded people to particular topics/groups, then supporting their interest with information and other valuable offerings.
  2. Sina Weibo: With 431 million active monthly users, Sina Weibo is another Chinese powerhouse on social media. Unlike QQ, a messaging app, Sina Weibo instead focuses on microblogging and sharing messages and multimedia among a broad group of people. While most prominent in China, the site is also popular among users in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This site is most like a combination of Facebook and Twitter, but with unique differences that cater towards Asian social media users.
  3. Baidu Tieba: With 300 million active monthly users, Baidu Tieba most closely resembles Reddit. While Reddit has user threads where users discuss topics, Baidu Tieba has “bars” where users can contribute to a discussion on any number of topics. The site functions with a search bar where users can search for topics, then participate in existing forums or create a new one. Companies can participate in discussions to further educate the Asian audience segment that has a particular interest in their product or service offering.

Social Media Sites to Engage European Customers

Europe has been heavily influenced by North American-based social media platforms. While Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter remain highly used among Europeans, there are regional differences that Canadian firms should be aware of. English-speaking nations within Europe tend to closely resemble North American social media use, while non-English speaking nations (such as those in eastern Europe) tend to use non-traditional platforms. European social media sites to consider include:

  1. VKontakte (VK): With over 100 million monthly users, VKontakte is one of the top social media sites used in Russia and other smaller European countries where Russian is the primary language spoken. Companies can build brand pages on the site, which makes targeting your message to a Russian audience relatively easy. It’s most similar to Facebook and maintains similar user functions, such as posting pictures and other status updates, sending messages, and engaging with groups.
  2. XING: With 15.8 million monthly users, professional social site Xing has long been seen as the European version of LinkedIn. It’s most popular in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, but has a wider reach across Europe. Although LinkedIn is growing its greater market share in the region, Xing has been steadily increasing its number of monthly users and remains an excellent option for Canadian companies branching out to European markets.

Social Media Sites to Engage Latin American Customers

Southern and Latin America has similar social patterns to European social media users. Common social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have high usage, although non-English-speaking users tend to favour more localized platforms. There is one worth exploring – Taringa.

  • Taringa: With over 75 million monthly users, Taringa remains one of the only social media sites devoted to Latin Americans. It has a presence in every Spanish-speaking country across the world, including Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, Chile, and Peru, among others. It most closely resembles the feel and functionality of Facebook, with users able to upload posts, images, videos, and links to content across the internet.

Export Resources for Canadian Businesses Expanding Abroad

Ready to take the next step towards starting or expanding exports? Explore over 200 resources designed to fuel your export success by downloading the Canadian Guide to Export Expansion.

This white paper uncovers powerful tools and expert content that review how to research and analyze trade statistics, how to get the most out of trade shows, news and publications for exporters, as well as how to finance export expansion. Use it to take the next step towards export success!

Canadian Government Grants for Exporting

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Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

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