How to manage and engage with an international audience via social media

By Grégory Rossi

Expanding overseas can cause complications for social media teams, especially if you’re working across different time zones. Fashion brand River Island expanded its ecommerce offering into the US, Europe, Asia and Australia, giving its social team a new set of challenges. Social Media Editor, Emma Goble gives her advice on overcoming the obstacles of international markets, and effectively engaging with a new and varied audience.   


As with any social media campaign, you need to plan posts meticulously, rather than sporadically posting as an afterthought. Define what you want to achieve with your audience and set a goal for you to work towards. Before you start any campaign:

  • Define your audience
  • Set a clear goal
  • Decide on the messages you want to present
  • Evaluate

Make sure that you note popular holidays and events in your industry in each territory or country so that you can join in the conversation. It is also worth researching the most effective platforms in different countries, as not all countries favour Facebook and Twitter. Instagram announced that it now has over 300 million users and many countries such as China use platforms that you may not have even heard of.

Creating content for a global audience

All River Island’s followers have one thing in common: an interest in the brand and its offering. This common interest is a great starting point for your content ideas.  Research your audience in all territories by testing different content mediums and topics. Whilst experimenting, keep referring to your analytics to see which posts are creating engagement, and where.

To successfully engage with your audience, storytelling is key. Take a product or trend, and put it into context that resonates. Adidas’ ‘Brazuca ball’ Twitter feed is a great example of storytelling. Adidas set up a separate Twitter feed for the official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and made it into a character. Throughout the world cup the personified Brazuca “updated” its Twitter page with match updates and pictures with famous footballers. Overall the account gained 3 million global followers which isn’t too bad for a football.

Targeting tools

Facebook is a great tool for targeting people by specific location or language, so our French team can send out posts in French rather than English to better engage with that audience. It’s fantastic for celebrating public holidays in different countries as well. For example, Australia recently celebrated Australia Day and we were able to involve bloggers in an Australia Day guide and send it out to our Aussie audience.

If you are working across different time zones or even across a number of platforms there are so many free tools you can use to schedule posts. Facebook even has its own feature that you can use to schedule your updates. The only drawback to working across different time zones is that the immediacy of replying is limited so it might be worth hiring an external company in that country to monitor your social media.

We all know social media is an effective tool but you need to approach it in the right way. Do your research, get to know your audience and explore different platforms before implementing any global strategy. 


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