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Facebook has growing international potential

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San Francisco—Marketers are working hard these days to establish a social media marketing strategy, but it may be more essential for companies with international marketing aspirations, according to session presenters at the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference and exhibition, which took place Oct. 9-14.

Both Indonesia and the Philippines have a Facebook penetration of 100% of the population, with many other countries almost as high, said Jeff Ragovin, chief revenue officer with Facebook strategy implementation company Buddy Media. This compares with 63% penetration in the U.S.

“The challenge is in creating one global Facebook wall,” Ragovin said, presenting case studies at a session titled, “Driving a Global Facebook Marketing Strategy That Works.” “You have to organize your team to make targeted status updates based on regions.”

Ragovin said different approaches can work. He cited Facebook marketing strategies by Sony Pictures, promoting a recent release in 13 international markets with just one Facebook template translated into local languages. But that doesn't work for companies with different brands in different countries, he said.

Brand engagement can come most strongly through encouraging viewers to “like” a fan page in exchange for an offer, Ragovin said. He cited a Borders campaign devised by Buddy Media that encouraged likes by giving away coupons. It produced 100,000 likes in a single day, he said.

Crowdsourcing also works well in encouraging likes, Ragovin said, noting campaigns that prompt viewers to participate in contests or product design.

David Godsman, VP-global Web with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which includes such hospitality brands as Westin, Sheraton and W, said his company's social media outreach has Facebook at its core, “not only at the brand level but also for each property, aimed as business travelers who come two or three times a month.”

Facebook is used at Starwood primarily for brand engagement, Godsman said, but has had great viral impact when Starwood addressed issues of individual travelers. Starwood also stresses likes from travelers, but doesn't push offers.

“We want people to endorse us,” Godsman said. “It's taken our conversion rate up dramatically on nonprior stays.”

“It's not a perfect science yet,” he said. “But it's a space in our industry that, if we start to see growth in interaction, we call it a success. This is a long process.”

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