Facebook Forums
Facebook vs. forums for expat marketers.

Having thrown themselves into a new situation, expats are naturally on the lookout for information which can aid them in their foreign life. This demand helps to fuel strong expat communities within which information is shared and people are generally keen to help each other.

Starting afresh in new surroundings takes away opportunities for brand loyalty, which means as a marketer, if you manage to get one expat onside you’ve got the potential to get many more as a direct result. Because of this, expat communities provide a unique opportunity for expat marketers.

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Facebook use is fairly high among expats, even in regions where internet penetration is in the single digits; click to enlarge

A majority of expats use Facebook as their social network of choice, according to HSBC’s 2011 Expat Explorer Survey. Even in countries where only 3-4% of locals use Facebook over half of expats are on the site a couple times a week.

Overall, 69% of expats use Facebook and 52% use it once a week or more. LinkedIn came in second at 40%, followed by Twitter at 14% and MySpace at a meager 2%.

But can businesses targeting expats turn this trend into cold hard cash?

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Anne Lutgerink is Communications Officer at Nuffic. She is heavily involved with the organization’s social media presence.

Social media is one of the most powerful, yet also most frustrating tools available to an expat marketeer. For every success story there are countless firms (especially small businesses) that utterly fail to develop a social media presence.

So what separates the successes from failures? Expat Marketing talked to Anne Lutgerink, Communications Officer at the Netherlands Organization for Cooperation in International Education (NUFFIC).

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The cost of advertising on Facebook is rising fast, according to marketing firm TBG Ditigal’s Global Facebook Advertising Report for Q2 2011, with cost-per-click (CPC) rates up an average 74% across the US, UK, France and Germany. The figures could raise eyebrows among companies marketing to expats, many of whom leverage heavily on social media to build connections with the online expat community. Said the report:

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