Move over Facebook: Social media platforms that will help your business go global

For many years now, social media has been essential to business success. Facebook likes, Twitter followers and even LinkedIn connections have become essential metrics for gauging customer engagement, and social network interaction has become a staple of customer service practices.

You might think you’ve mastered all the social media platforms you need to as a business, but all that changes if you plan to go global. Facebook may boast billions of users worldwide, but the social media landscape is different in every country, sometimes in crucial ways.

To help you take that worldwide step, here are three social networks every business should be using if it aspires to dominate the global market.

1. Qzone

With upwards of 653 million monthly active users, Qzone is one of the most successful social networks in China—one of the world’s largest consumer markets. Qzone is owned by Tencent, which is one of the biggest internet companies in the world, thanks to its several popular Chinese social media platforms.

Qzone’s closest western counterpart is likely MySpace in the pre-Facebook era, but the platform is very unique. Users post diary entries, upload photos, listen to music, and keep personal blogs on Qzone. As a business, you too can do all of these things, provided you do so in Mandarin.

Using Qzone will undoubtedly help you expand into the Chinese market, but you’ll also need to translate your website. How else will your followers use your service when they click through to it?

Chinese characters are so different to the Latin alphabet that even aspects like site layout may need to change during the translation process. Global Voices suggest when getting organised for website translation, businesses should also bear in mind localisation. No matter how effectively you use Qzone, if local Chinese customers do not understand your business’ website, it will all be for nothing.

2. VKontakte

With the size and strength of Russia in mind, it’s definitely worth getting to grips with the country’s favourite social media platform. VKontakte (often known as simply VK) serves Russia as well as most of Eastern Europe, and this combined audience results in 97 million monthly active users, making it the fifth most-visited site in the world.

VK is quite different to most western social networks, but in many ways it’s also quite similar. This is due to Russia’s lack of copyright law, which allows VK to take “inspiration” from features of Facebook, Foursquare, and even Pirate Bay.

The most important thing for businesses using VK to keep in mind is the sheer amount of information most users enter. Details such as address, age, gender, religion, political views, employment, and even drinking preferences can all be found for most members, giving you the ability to target exactly the kind of people that may be interested in your product or service.

Once again, a significant amount of translation and localisation will be needed, but the results will no doubt pay off.

3. Xing

The previous two social networks have been public-facing services with huge user bases, Xing is more niche. The website is Germany’s home-grown alternative to LinkedIn—a professional network to businesses and colleagues to make connections.

Xing serves German-speaking countries such as Switzerland, Austria, and of course Germany, connecting 10 million total users in the same way LinkedIn does in the UK. While you may be able to expand your network using LinkedIn in Germany, the website is mostly seen as the tool of students who have studied abroad, rather than professionals ingrained in the German business community.

By entering your information and searching the vast database, Xing will help you connect with potential German business partners, collaborators, and even employees, helping your global business expansion plans run more smoothly.