Michael Walton is a freelance writer, editor, and novelist dedicated to delivering engaging content that satisfies readers’ needs and leaves them wanting more. When he’s not writing content, you may find him writing novels, writing about writing, reading, or hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
We all like to say it’s a “small world” when a friend knows a friend of a friend’s sister, but as a growing business, you’re probably quickly realizing just how massive the world actually is. Sure, we can book a flight to just about anywhere in the world. We can instantaneously contact someone in a country we’ve never heard of, but the bigger your business gets, the more connections you need to establish to keep your growth moving, and doing that requires rethinking some of your previous marketing strategies.
You’ve seen the success of video marketing in your current corner of the market, but now you’re ready to take it to the world stage. However, if you’re expecting to expand the success of your video marketing, you’ll have to adjust your strategy to compensate for cultural differences. With some research, a fresh look at your marketing strategy, and some adjustments to your videos, you’ll soon be getting views from Amsterdam to Zurich and every other corner of the globe. Here are four international video marketing tips.
Establish Cross-Cultural Competency
Image via Flickr by Neil Tackaberry
If you’ve been born and raised in a particular culture without extensive experience outside that culture, you need to start your international video marketing with some things that have nothing to directly do with videos: research and self-reflection. We all live in drastically unique cultures. Even in the United States, cultures vary widely. For example, the culture of Manhattan is completely different from the culture of Portland, Oregon. And just like you would be aware of differences between audiences here in the States, you’ll need to do the same thing across international borders. Recognize and embrace cultural differences and use them to strengthen your connection to international audiences.
One negative side effect of immersion in a culture is that we become unaware of biases and stereotypes surrounding those outside our own culture. Gaining a cross-cultural competency will help you avoid ignorantly including biases and stereotypes in your video marketing. Don’t trust everything you see in entertainment. For example, not all Irish are redheaded alcoholics. Not all Latin Americans wear raggedy clothes and constantly smoke. Americans don’t appreciate it when other cultures illustrate us all as fat slobs, so remember what mother always said: Treat others how you want to be treated.
Look at content that is native to the cultures you’re trying to reach. If you want to share your video in Europe, watch some other popular European videos to get a feel for what kind of video content your demographic enjoys. Doing so will also introduce you to nuances of culture you may have otherwise missed.
Right now, your video marketing may take place primarily on your website. While that may work in the States as long as your website has strong SEO, international audiences may have a harder time finding your content for a variety of reasons. Love it or hate it, YouTube has revolutionized the way we ingest digital media, and if you’re not already taking advantage of it, now’s the time to jump on it.
Remember how we discussed the world being a massive place? One of the greatest challenges you’ll face in marketing your videos to an international audience is making them accessible to all corners of the Earth. Since YouTube is one of the top search engines (especially for video content) on the planet, uploading your videos there will help you solve this accessibility issue.
Subtitle Your Videos
If you really want your video marketing campaign to reach around the world, you need to speak the language of those to whom you’re dispersing your video. Many companies completely dub their videos, which entails finding someone fluent in the language that can translate your dialogue or text as well as lip syncing the audio to the visuals. While dubbing definitely has its perks, it be expensive and time consuming. Plus, if the lip syncing ends up just looking cheesy, it may damage the credibility of your content.
Instead, consider inserting subtitles into your videos. It’s cheaper, it takes less time, and it generally works better. How you go about translating is up to you. You can bring in a physical translator or turn to improving translation technology like Google Translate. If you decide to integrate YouTube into your strategy, you can take advantage of its auto-translate feature. All it requires is that you plug in your English captions, and YouTube will handle the rest of the translation. It’s worth noting, however, that in more illiterate countries, dubbing may be the only way to go. Again, that comes down to knowing the culture!
More Show, Less Tell
Visuals are a universal language. Everyone, anywhere in the world, will identify with a hurt child or the pain of separation and isolation, and simple visuals can effectively tell that story. Some things don’t require words. In fact, the intricacies of written and spoken language may not translate well semantically or culturally, despite advances in tech like Google Translate. Sometimes, words just get in the way.
Let your video speak for itself. Use human faces that experience universal issues. Understand what your international audience will universally identify with and build your video and marketing around those themes. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use any dialogue or text, but the more you can just show, the better. Plus, the less language in the content, the less work you have to do to generate subtitles or dub.
Video content is a crucial part of any marketing strategy in today’s digital era, but if you’re going to do it, do it right. Reaching out for an international audience can be a risky endeavor that requires dedicated resources, so make sure that those resources pay off. But don’t be intimidated. Approach international video marketing as you would approach any other strategy: with research, patience, humility, and refined ideas. Who knows, maybe your international video marketing really will make the world a smaller place.