If you haven’t given much thought to establishing a multi-lingual presence on social media, now is the time to do so. While English has been the dominant language of the Internet for quite some time, it is now being pressed by several other languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese, as well as some of the languages used in India. It is essential to engage with your audience in a language they prefer to use, so as to form lasting relationships with them.
A study recently conducted by Facebook found that people of Hispanic origin in the US preferred brands which advertised in Spanish more positively than those which were advertised in English. This isn’t an isolated case either since more than 70% of all consumers will require information presented to them in their own language before they will make a purchase. Whether you are trying to engage more with your current audience or wanting to establish a sound relationship with a brand-new audience, you should really consider reaching out to them in their native language. Here are some tips on how you can go about doing that.
Don’t count on translation tools
While many advances have been made in tools which accomplish auto-translation, there are still too many nuances in all languages for machines to adequately account for them all. Only humans can adequately interpret language and convert it into an understandable expression for the user. Marketing users will especially notice the shortcomings of translation tools, when they create short, punchy taglines for their content, which are then commonly misinterpreted and completely lost in the translation. Several huge companies have already run afoul of translation tool errors in marketing campaigns, and have had their original intent completely misrepresented, resulting in extreme embarrassment and a hasty recall of the campaign.
Include visual content
While it’s always possible for your text message to be misinterpreted and slightly skewed, visual representations are universal and are pretty much always interpreted correctly. Using high-quality photography and video to communicate your brand’s message, you can be much more effective at getting through to your target audience. It would be a good idea to include captions which can accompany your images and videos, so as to drive the point home.
Make use of tools already available
Many of the social media platforms already have tools in place for multi-lingual users, and these should be used to your advantage whenever appropriate. In fact, more than 6 billion translations occur on Facebook daily, and there are currently more than 4,500 language directions available for people to use. Language directions refer to translating from English to French for example, which means they are language pairs. Since more than 50% of the total users on Facebook speak a native language other than English, it’s very important to have these translation tools in place, so you might as well make use of them yourself.
Understand your audience demographics
It’s a known requirement of marketing to have a good understanding of your target audience, and the language which those audience members speak should be part of the knowledge you retain about them. Since all social media platforms make analytic dashboards available to users which display language statistics, it should be fairly easy for you to identify the percentage of your users who speak other languages. For example, if you are a U.S. company which has a very low number of Spanish-speaking followers, this might very well be an indication that you are not connecting with that audience very well. It’s essential for you to identify this kind of information about your users so that you actually have a chance of engaging with them.
Think about double-posting
One of the ways that you can get around language constraints with your target audience is to double-post all of your content. If you don’t want to have separate social media accounts for different languages, writing separate posts for the languages involved might be an alternative. Most of your users will probably appreciate this because it means you are giving them respect, and acknowledging their differences. It may take a little more effort to create double-posts, but it will be worth it in terms of public relations with your multi-lingual audience.
Use language to spotlight brand culture
Some companies are confident enough about their audience engagement that they will use language as a means of spotlighting cultural pride. As one example, Air New Zealand has a greeting for all its passengers which says, “Kia ora, we wish you well.” This is a phrase which is extremely common for New Zealanders who speak English, as well as those who speak Maori. By using this mixed-language phrase to greet its passengers, the company presents itself as a kind of cultural ambassador, thereby incurring the goodwill of virtually everyone patronizing the airline. While this can be a little tricky to pull off effectively, if you can make it work, the benefits can be really worthwhile.
Offer assurances to customers
For companies which have an e-commerce business, or which makes online products available for sale, the most important moment of any shopping experience comes at checkout time. If a user can’t understand what’s happening, they will simply abandon the process and look elsewhere. Online shoppers will always avoid making a purchase when there are un-translated instructions or steps involved in the purchasing process. To counteract this potential shortcoming, you can offer reassurances to your customers such as generous return policies, samples which they can try out, and trial periods for your products. However, the best assurance you can offer any customer is to provide all the checkout instructions in their native language.
Be aware of timing
Two of the largest international audiences being sought by many companies these days are India and China, both of which are fruitful areas for expansion. If your company has taken on a huge initiative to reach out to natives of these two countries, and have adapted content which might appeal to them, you should also be aware of the timing factor.
Any content you post which is specifically targeted at these two audiences must be posted at just the right time and should take into account the appropriate time zones involved. This may seem like a small issue, but when you’re trying to appeal to a vast number of people in their native countries, you want to do everything possible to put them in the right frame of mind, and to make it easy for them to make a purchase.