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Leverage Your Brand Internationally Or Someone Else Will

This week Facebook has managed to throw MySpace from the No.1 spot, putting “considerably distance” between the two sets of audience figures. Facebook drew a massive 132m viewers in June while MySpace managed just 117.5m. The reason for this success? Facebook decided to embrace the multilingual audience and deliver the service in a range of languages.

Facebook has done an exceptional job of leveraging its brand internationally during the past year,” commented comScore vice president Jack Flanagan said in an official release.

By increasing the site’s relevance to local markets through local language interface translation, the site is now competing strongly or even capturing the lead in several markets where it had a relatively minor presence just a year ago.

There’s are lessons here for anyone not yet convinced about investing in a multilingual strategy for their business or services. First, you’re ignoring a significant revenue source. If you need further convincing, look at Google’s Q1 report for this year; 51% of their profits are now earned outside the United States.

The second lesson is that if you do not take your services into these markets, others will. Take the example of YouTube.com, the popular video sharing service. The lack of multilingual support on the platform left the door open for RuTube.ru, the Russian version, to take a dominant marketshare in the country. The popularity of YouTube would have raised user awareness for the service and helped secure investment.

Clever VCs are looking at internet business models in the west with an eye to investing in localized versions. RuTube successfully took $15m USD in investment earlier this year. Microblogging platforms such as MBlogi or SMSter have sprung out of the Twitter revolution. The Chinese incarnation, Komoo.cn is even less subtle.

Although people may cry foul and claim these ideas are cloned, there is little they can do to stop this process. Patents are difficult enough to obtain on these applications, let alone when people try to apply them internationally. Lack of action by the origional brand led to an unoccupied niche and an opportunity for local players.

In the case or RuTube, they have hit the ground running and solidified their position through local media deals. They can show Russian content at high speeds to local users. They have leveraged the brand to become the “YouTube of Russia”.

The best defense is offense. If you have a business model that can be exported to another market, consider adopting a multilingual strategy. Not doing so may hand the opportunity to someone else. Next month I’ll be giving you some practical advice on how to setup such a strategy and what points are important to consider.

About Nick Wilsdon

Nick Wilsdon works as a Content and Digital Strategy Consultant He manages online campaigns for the UK's leading telecom, finance and FMCG brands.

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