Tackling social media marketing in other languages

November 22, 2018

Thanks to social media, businesses of all sizes and types can develop a networking strategy for engaging consumers with their brand and attracting new customers. Even a company’s website ranking can improve through the power of social media, as a result of becoming more visible to search engines. If you are a business that already engages in international commerce, and especially if you have translated websites, you know the value of localization services that can tailor your message to a global audience. But establishing a social media presence that includes each of your target audiences is also vital to the growth of your company.

Research Your Target Market Before Hiring A Translator

What is the best way to implement a multilingual social media strategy? When you are attempting to set up campaigns across different languages and cultures,  information overload can set in fast. What kind of translation services will you need? Which platform should you focus on? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? All of them? There are dozens of different social media channels that your target audience may be using. Your brand could be a topic of discussion in hundreds of languages. As such, it’s important to find out where your potential customers are and which platforms they are using to communicate on about your product.

Before hiring a translation agency, make sure the agency is familiar with both marketing translation and social media marketing. You will find it much easier to overcome potential obstacles with a translator who is a native speaker and understands the cultural nuances of their region. For example, in China, the government has a list of banned keywords. Cultural quirks like this are important to know about when you’re spending money on a marketing campaign, so your content doesn’t end up blocked.

Translation And Multilingual Social Media Platforms

Facebook, which has translations in 72 languages, is still the largest social media platform in the world, and in many countries, it is the primary channel used. Youtube is second in popularity, and Instagram has recently reached 1 billion users. But there are also different platforms in other countries that dominate the social media scene. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

In Japan, Twitter wins hands-down as the preferred social media platform. One reason for its popularity likely stems from the fact that much more can be said in 140 characters in Japanese than in English. Before you hire a translation professional to start tweeting about your brand in Japanese, be sure to open a separate account for Japan only. In fact, each country should have its own separate account on social media.

China ranks number one in the world when it comes to internet users, and the Chinese spend a lot of time on social media sites. Yet Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other Western social media sites are banned there. The WeChat app is used by more than 900 million users a day in China, and it is utilized for everything from investing and shopping to travel planning. Baidu Tieba is also very popular in China, and an essential platform for businesses looking to target niche groups and interact with users. There are several other prevalent social media platforms in China as well. Clearly, enlisting professional translation services who understand Chinese culture and have experience with these platforms can be invaluable if you’re trying to bring your brand to the Chinese market.

Brazilians also love their social media and make up about 122 million of the globe’s active users. They are primarily Facebook users, but they also have another main social media platform: Orkut. Last year in  Brazil, citizens spent nearly four hours a day on social media sites. As such, enlisting the help of language translation services specializing in Portuguese is critical for reaching this market. A translator who can navigate both Facebook and Orkut would be ideal to work with on your social media marketing project in Brazil.

Instagram is very popular in Canada, Australia, Denmark, and New Zealand. In several African countries, LinkedIn is the primary player. And in Russia, VKontakte (also known as VK) dominates the social media scene. India has a popular social media platform called  Ibibo, which centers around online gaming. Professionals who are skilled at marketing translation and localization can help bring your brand to the forefront of these various networks.

The Importance Of Localization

You can find a lot of information about social media platforms around the world just by searching the internet. You can (and should) have a peek inside the preferred platform of your target audience, even if you don’t know the language. Although it should never be used for professional translation, a tool like Google translate can help you familiarize yourself with the social network you are considering.

Localization helps you to form marketing strategies that take into account things like holidays, customs, seasons, and celebrations in your target regions. It goes beyond translation and adapts the content to the culture. Localization services keep you from mistakes like promoting winter hats to your target audience during their summer season, or using images of women without head coverings on your Arabic site.

A localization company analyzes content during the translation process to ensure it is appropriate. It looks at colors, currencies, regional slang, and time differences. It ensures that you present your brand to your audience with content that is translated and localized in their own language, and that you play by their rules rather than insisting they adapt to your culture. It shows respect and empathy for your potential customers.

Businesses can no longer afford to ignore the conversations about their brands that are taking place globally simply because these conversations aren’t happening in English. Roughly 80 percent of internet users are not native English speakers. This represents an enormous potential market that you should tap into now, rather than later. Professional translation companies are positioned to assist you in translating, localizing, and monitoring your international social media sites to help you deliver the best experience to your overseas customers.


Louise Taylor is head of content for Tomedes, a translation company providing a comprehensive range of professional language services. A writer with a keen interest in languages, Louise has studied Spanish, French, German and Latin, as well as learning Portuguese in her own time. She runs the Tomedes translation blog and the company’s business translation center.

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