Multilingual communication on social media: The myths

Mar 21, 2017

Social media have become an important feature of business communication strategies – for some even highly essential. Communicators at many leading brands generally understand that content needs to be as customized as possible for (potential) clients, yet their communication on social media often exists in a single language only.

There are, in fact, many good reasons why marketers and social media managers have opted not to localize social media content. However, times change.

Here are a few myth-busters that might make you reassess the social media content strategy for your international markets.

1. English social media content is sufficient and machine translation will do the rest.

WRONG. It's perfectly understandable that brands, mainly small or mid-sized, cannot always manage separate social media accounts for each individual key market in different languages. And while it is true that machine translation provides a certain extent of understanding to non-English speakers, the business potential of your messages drastically decreases.

If you are serious about your international expansion, make sure you include social media content localization into your strategy, at least for 1 or 2 of your key markets. Then, you can either:

  1. a) hire a social media copywriter to produce content that is subsequently localized by aprofessional translation services provider, or
  2. b) hire native sales reps with copywriting and social media skills for each key market.

2. Social media don't support professional content localization.

CORRECT. They only do it partially. The common practice for brands was to manage multiple accounts on social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), each account for each key market with different language, for a very prosaic reason:there used to be no way to communicate different language versions of a message via one single post.

However, globalization is strong. So, it's been over a year already since Facebook introduced the option for multilingual posting on fan pages, or better said of adding non-machine translation to the original post content. Social media managers can actually publish the very same posts in various language versions, while users will see it in their preferred language settings of Facebook. As long as the language is not supported yet, the post will display in its original language. It is safe to assume that other social media platforms will follow Facebook and introduce better localization options for their business pages.

3. Translation services providers are not flexible enough to supply translations for social media content.

VERY WRONG. Translation service providers have been forced to amend their business models and translation techniques because of online environments and the increased volume and speed of content consumption on every level. By hiring social-media-savvy translators, using tweaks on social media platforms in combination with upgrading their translation tools and optimizing content channels, the translation providers are eager to upgrade your content to a truly international level.

So...what are you waiting for? :)

Contact your translation services provider and begin a discussion on how to localize your social media content for your key international markets today and don't let opportunities slip by you again...

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