Graphic ranking online media channels
A ranked list of the website types consumers use to research products. (US data; Bynd.com)

How do you generate more sales? The big buzz is always social media but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Especially for expatriate products, more purchase interest seems to come from online channels other than Facebook and Twitter.

Expat purchases are normally ‘high involvement’ products such as health insurance coverage, personal finance, or real estate. Interestingly, a study by Joann DeLanoy explains that for high-involvement products, people use web search before using Twitter or Facebook.

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According to Alex Alpert, Business Development Director at Wheaton Worldwide Moving, brands can improve their image by portraying human qualities on social media.

Let’s face it. There are industries consumers simply love to hate (ahem: banks, insurers).

For these industries, the brave new world of social media has proven challenging, to say the least. Younger people are particularly difficult for these firms to reach.

The problem is these companies are viewed as impenetrable, faceless monoliths. So insists Alex Alpert, Business Development Director at Wheaton World Wide Moving and joint re-Founder of remobilize.org (a new movement for relocation professionals that aims to create professional development workshops and networking events young professionals actually want to attend).

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70% of comments on US health insurers across social media are negative; click to enlarage

International health insurers and banks get little love from social media, according to a recent report from Amplicate, which monitors topics and opinions across social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Amplicate found 70% of all opinions expressed on US health insurance companies over the last 12 months were negative.

Aetna earned the unwelcome distinction of most hated insurer. Only 9% of users expressing positive views of the company in the last year. Believe it or not, however, the industry has actually fared worse on social media in the past.

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Lukas Ritzel has spent more than 15 years helping companies coordinate media projects. He also lectures on media at IMI University Centre and other schools.

Young expat professionals do not respond to traditional campaigns. They’re not interested in photos of dressed up models  or sanitized PR speak.  What they crave for is authenticity, says Lukas Ritzel, Marketing & Web Strategist at Switzerland’s IMI University Centre–and they’re looking for it on social media sites. In an interview with Expat Marketing, Lukas explains why traditional marketing managers are struggling to cope.

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Social media has seen Social media logosan enormous growth. According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, 65 per cent of adult Internet users claim to use a social networking site.

The rise of social media has forever changed the way that customers expect to interact with brands. To prove this, Nielsen published a report looking at the time Americans spend online. It found that e-mail’s share of time declined 28%, behind online gaming. Meanwhile, social networking climbed 43% and is the number one online activity in terms of time. While the data is for America, this trend  is seen worldwide.

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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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In the wake of survey results showing dissatisfied Facebook users and a sharp rise in advertising costs on Facebook, it would not surprise if many expat marketers were hoping for alternatives to Facebook’s monopoly. There are high hopes for Google+, which–despite being the product of a monopolist in another market–seems to offer at least a supplement to a Facebook-dominated social world.

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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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