Tips for Effectively Translating Your Social Media Content

Marketing, Translation Services

Your brand’s digital marketing strategy can have a huge impact in your overall success. You develop strategies for your website, SEO, and email marketing. If you have an established presence in markets where English is not primarily spoken, you’re most likely also developing strategies to reach these audiences in their own language for each of these areas.

So how does social media play into your digital marketing strategy? And should you also translate this content like you would any other?

While reaching your foreign-language audience via social media just like you would with your English-speaking audience may seem like the obvious choice, how do you know where to you begin? Do you translate each post for every platform you have? Just a few?

The key to successfully reaching foreign-language markets via social media is to be strategic. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Don’t assume. Research social media habits for foreign-language consumers.

Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter may be dominant players across many international communities, but this isn’t always the case. Different platforms may be more popular among your customers, depending on their age, demographic, and geographic location.

You may also find that your target market hangs out on social media channels you are unfamiliar with. If you want to reach consumers in China, for example, you need to familiarize yourself with the top 3 social media channels among Chinese consumers: WeChat, Kuaishou, and Sina Weibo.

Instead of posting content on the same platforms you use for your English-speaking audience, take the time to find out where your target audience is hanging out online. Then tailor your message for that audience and social media platform.

Plan in advance. Decide which social media content to translate (or create!) for your foreign-language audience–it doesn’t have to be everything!

Your foreign-language social media feeds do not have to match your English-language feeds post-for-post. In fact, they shouldn’t.

When planning social media content, decide in advance which posts would be relevant to your foreign-language markets and place those in the queue for translation.

If certain announcements are relevant for your foreign-language markets and not for your English-speaking audience, then create and include that content in your request for translation.

Planning your content in advance will save you from spending money unnecessarily on content that is not relevant for your audience and will better engage your audience. You can feel confident that they will be reading only the information that is specifically meant for them, instead of having to filter through content that is geared toward your English-speaking customers.

This strategy will also help you to save by sending the content for translation all at once every month. Batching your content for translation means you’ll be less likely to incur multiple minimum rate fees than you would if you sent off each post for translation as it was ready.

Use a professional translation and localization service for your social media content instead of relying on plug-ins.

Quality matters.

You wouldn’t ask someone who isn’t qualified to create your content for any other part of your digital marketing campaign. Your brand’s reputation is on the line.

The same can be said when it comes to translating your social media content. Plug-ins and automatic translation tools are imperfect at best. Using these methods for translating content that is reaching a set of potential customers can really cost your brand its reputation in the long run.

A professional, native translator with a specific skill set can help make sure your posts have the same effect on your foreign-language market as they do on your English-speaking market. They’ll consider things you may not otherwise, such as:

  • Character restrictions. If a message needs to be reduced to meet a platform’s character requirements, a professional will ensure your post still carries the same message and feel, without having to be cut off mid-sentence.

  • Slang and emojis. Social media content is often less formal than other types of marketing content. If you utilize slang and emojis in your posts, a native speaker will be able to determine whether certain emojis or slang might be considered offensive to the target audience—or have a different meaning altogether—and adapt them to make your content as relatable as possible.

  • Knowledge about the target culture to best localize the content. Your original content may contain jokes or cultural references that are not relevant to other audiences. A professional, specialized translator will recognize these instances and make adjustments to these types of references to convey the same meaning in a way that will make sense to a foreign-language market.

If you rely on free translation tools, or even the help of a bilingual friend, you run the risk of damaging your brand by missing some of the nuances a specialized professional will be able to better handle for you.

Social media is a very personal channel for many users. It allows you to engage with users in a way that is otherwise impossible through typical web traffic. If you are looking for likes, retweets, and follows that convert to paying customers, then researching, planning, and using a professional to handle your translation and localization needs will go a long way for cultivating engagement with your customers across these platforms.

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