Social media is an increasingly useful way for businesses to engage with current customers and gain new ones. It’s no surprise that, according to the Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2015, 93% of marketers now use social media for business. However, what happens when you want to use social media to target audiences in foreign countries? Well, that can be a little more complicated.
For businesses with an international audience, effectively translating your social media feed can be simultaneously a hindrance and an opportunity. Multilingual social media can help you target the 70% of internet users that don’t speak English, yet remarkably many businesses persistently make mistakes. We’ve rounded up the most common mistakes your business could be making, and more importantly, we’ve got the tools you need to become a successful multilingual social media marketer.
Not localizing content
Repeating the exact same content on different platforms and to different global audiences will be seen as lazy, and will not engage effectively with people around the world. Not only that, producing identical content can lead to avoidable translation mistakes, and both frustrate and annoy followers.
To remedy these multilingual mistakes, businesses should consider having separate accounts as a way of targeting different language speakers independently. Businesses should filter their Facebook feed on a geographic basis in combination with the language filtering. This localised approach will help you engage with local audiences.
Translating word for word
With the plentitude of translation apps that have launched in 2016, businesses could think that by simply translating their content word for word across a number of languages has become an easy and cheap undertaking. However, what works in one language, and to one audience, could be nonsensical or even offensive to another. You must localise your content to maintain the same high quality communication in multiple languages.
This means having your social media accounts run by someone who can not only literally translate the content, but know the audience you are targeting. Translation company Global Voices argue the importance of localisation, especially when interpreting ‘slang or specific phrases that only native speakers of the language would understand’. Using localisation rather than word for word translation allows your content to remain engaging and on message.
Not doing the necessary research
Although Facebook, with over 1.7 billion active users, is by far the biggest social media site on the planet, its popularity differs on country to country. Failing to do research on the platforms themselves is just as damaging as not localising your content.
For example, as of January 2016 Japan was the only country where Twitter has more users than Facebook. In China, Facebook is banned and the biggest social media platform is QZone, a site that has 653 million users in Asia.
Multilingual social media marketing, like translation in general, can be a minefield for businesses. Mistakes are made by some of the biggest brands in the world, from KFC to HSBC.
However, by simply not doing anything you risk missing out on the opportunities multilingual social media brings. We know that social Media is already providing huge opportunities for businesses, the Social Media Marketing Industry Report found that 66% of marketers plan on increasing their use of Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Being multilingual can help brands establish a global presence, the use of Arabic online has grown by 6,602% since 2000, Chinese by 2,227% and Spanish by 1,424%. English has grown by just 574% during that time, and although it is still the most common language online, exploring smaller but faster growing markets can really help businesses visibility online.