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How to use social media for global marketing

Social media connects people around the planet in powerful and unprecedented ways. As the world becomes increasingly globalised, social media plays an important role in fostering real-time communication and understanding between different peoples, cultures, and countries. 

Social media is also credited with connecting organisations and individuals in similarly new ways, eroding the barriers that used to exist between brands and consumers, and opening the door to direct communication and engagement. According to Statista, increased exposure “is the most commonly cited advantage of using social media for marketing purposes among global industry professionals,” with billions of active social media users as a potential advertising audience. Improved web traffic, lead generation, and increased loyalty are listed as further reasons why marketers use social networks in their campaigns. 

All of this means that social media is a persuasive force in global marketing – and vice versa. It informs and influences preferred marketing channels and tactics, and helps marketers tailor their messages and strategies to the specific needs of international consumers in the worldwide market.

Marketing professionals who want to use social media for effective global marketing need to first consider a few key questions.

  • What is the organisation’s aim for being on social media?
  • Who is the organisation’s target audience?
  • What are the right social media platforms for the organisation’s brand, aims, and audience?

Creating purpose

Many organisations create a Facebook or Twitter account without really understanding why they’re doing so, or stopping to consider their aim on any of the social media platforms that they join. 

Before creating logins for all the latest platforms, or joining TikTok just because that’s where Gen Z is, marketers need to first consider their purpose for joining any social media platform. Is it to build brand awareness and reputation? Is it to create a loyal customer base through social media-based customer service? Is it monetisation, or to drive e-commerce sales, a tactic known as social commerce? Any and all of these aims are valid ones, but knowing them before embarking on a social media campaign can help ensure the campaign’s success.

Engaging a target audience

Social media algorithms mean that marketers can target specific audiences, but in order to maximise on these sophisticated tools, marketers need to first understand precisely who they’re trying to communicate with. 

For example, an organisation might prefer to directly target potential customers within a particular demographic or geographic region, or it might choose to instead direct its messaging towards media professionals or social media influencers who could assist in raising brand awareness. 

Understanding the target audience also helps ensure that marketers can tailor their messages accordingly, whether it’s for specific time zones, languages, or cultural sensitives. 

Social media platforms

The sheer number of potential social media apps on Apple iOS and Android can be intimidating for some marketers, especially when new social media platforms seem to crop up regularly and others appear to fall unexpectedly out of fashion. However, few businesses will appear on all platforms, and the staples for global marketers remain Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Ultimately, though, the platforms an organisation uses should be directly linked to its social media marketing purpose and audience. For example, if the organisation’s target market is in China, it makes more sense to be on Weibo than on Facebook.


Facebook is the most well-known of all social networking sites, and boasts more than two billion monthly active users. Facebook’s user base is encouraged to post updates to their connections – typically friends and family members. Other integrations within the platform include games, an online marketplace, and online event functionality such as live video streaming as well as live audio, such as podcasts.  

Facebook also includes a popular instant messaging app, Facebook Messenger, which enables texting as well as audio and video calls.


Instagram is a photo-sharing social media platform known for its influencer marketing. It also supports video content formats, and is a popular tool for marketing products available on e-commerce sites.


LinkedIn is the go-to social media network for working professionals, and is frequently utilised for digital marketing strategies’ brand-building and reputation-building activities.


TikTok is a short-form video social media platform and is particularly popular with younger generations. In fact, many young people now prefer to use TikTok, rather than Google, to search for information.


Twitter is the microblogging platform that popularised hashtags and includes new features such as Twitter Spaces for live audio conversations.


Snapchat allows users to share messages and images for a brief window of time before the content is no longer accessible.


YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing platform, and sits among Google’s homepage and Facebook in terms of visits.


Twitch is a live-streaming platform popular with gamers, and is often used for esports competition streaming as well as music broadcasts.


Discord is a decentralised social platform that allows users to join communities – called servers – that suit their interests. The platform supports real-time text, voice, and video chats, as well as file and media sharing, and servers can be private or public spaces. 


WhatsApp is a global instant messaging platform that supports text messages as well as voice and video calls, file and location sharing, and end-to-end encryption.


Clubhouse is a relatively new social network, launching towards the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. It’s described as a social audio app that supports audio chat rooms, and was initially invite-only.

Build social media into your global marketing strategy

Learn how to harness social media for international marketing strategies with the Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of York. This programme includes a taught module in marketing and society, so you will examine a variety of methods, including new social media, as a mechanism of distributing knowledge and information as part of global marketing management. The module will also encourage you to explore the marketing challenges that all organisations face, and to develop the capacity to learn and engage with the opportunities – and challenges – of communicating brand images and corporate values across national, linguistic, and cultural borders to a variety of consumers.

This programme is studied part-time and 100% online, so you can continue to work full-time as you focus on your professional development. Through research and taught modules, you’ll learn about management strategy, contemporary topics in global business, leading and managing organisational change, and how to manage across cultures, among other important areas of business.