Social media is here to stay, and if your business hasn't sent a tweet yet you should seriously consider joining the other 86% of business owners who are already benefiting from it. But what if your company is operating in more than one country? What if your audience is multilingual and you’re missing out because you’re not communicating in the right language?
Going global on social media can be a little bit daunting and there are a few important intricacies to keep in mind. By the time you finish reading this blog post, you will be ready to reap maximum benefits from multilingual social media marketing.
How to know when you’re ready?
One of the main reasons for having a social media presence is to drive traffic to your website.
Let’s say you are based in the UK and after throughout research, you have decided that your second best market to export is Italy. Do you setup your Facebook and Twitter accounts? Probably not.
So before you start on your social media campaign, make sure you have your website translated into the target language.
If you are still testing the market and you don’t want to spend a considerable amount of time and money in translating your whole website, you can have a landing page or a subdomain with a couple of pages in the required language, which will help you build trust with customers in that country.
When to do multilingual social media marketing?
English is de facto a standard in today’s communication, but it’s not the lingua franca of the Internet because only 27% of the Web speaks the language. Doing research prior to setting up your foreign social media channels is essential. There are some nifty free online tools, such as Google’s Global Market Research, which can help you further with your research.
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries are still the most popular location for business exports while the CIVET (Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, and Turkey) countries are still emerging markets. Is your target audience there? Do you have your site already translated into any of these languages?
Using social media in different languages can help businesses achieve their international goals, country by country. You have to know your audience and, more importantly, know how to reach them.
We suggest focusing on one country at a time, allowing you to be more focused and more successful in each market.
Which languages does your audience speak and how you can reach them?
If you are already operating in a country that speaks a language different to your company’s then doing your research is vital. Facebook is undoubtedly still the largest social network in the world with 1.16 billion monthly active users, but does that mean your audience is there? Not necessarily. For example, Russia’s VK.com is more popular than Facebook and in China, QZONE dominates the masses. From here you have two options, set up your business profile on these networks and take it from there, or stay on Facebook and tailor your content according to your audience.
It is essential to know where your audience hangs out online and how you can interact with them, especially when there might be cultural differences.
If you don’t want to or don’t have the time to set up your presence on foreign social networks, you can easily start your research and planning on Facebook. Go to ‘Page Insights’ and under ‘People’ you will see something like this:
From the data presented you can plan your strategy - you can see the languages that your audience speaks and at what time of day they are most active. You can start by scheduling posts with content tailored to a specific audience.
That way you will have a stream of multilingual content in one place. However, sometimes this may look confusing and may alienate people from the brand. That’s why many companies set up separate profiles for different countries.
But be careful - inconsistent content, engagement and communication are where the most common mistakes occur!
Content and brand consistency in multiple languages
Translating and scheduling posts is one thing, but when it comes to fully managing social media you need to resource this by finding a community manager. If you have a limited budget and you aren’t ready to hire in-house staff, there are many freelancers who will be up for doing the job. Just make sure they are trustworthy, readily available to communicate and know how to communicate your brand.
You have to think like a local, or at least your community managers have to, as they will be managing your multilingual social media audience. As part of their training, they will need to speak the required language, preferably natively. Natively is better because apart from knowing the language a native speaker will also know the culture in that country.
If you are going to broadcast your messages in a variety of languages, you have to ensure that the content is relevant. People will hit the ‘Unlike’ or ‘Unfollow’ buttons as soon they stop seeing interesting tailored content. Keep track of local events and holidays, and always localize and transcreate, don’t just translate. Using Google Translate and its alternatives, for example, is cost-effective but very unreliable. People will know you have used software to translate your messages, but they will appreciate your efforts when your content is translated and localized by a real person.
Social media is huge and more and more people are using it daily. However, different people use different platforms, so to have a successful social media strategy you need to tailor your content to your target audience and location. Ensure success by continually monitoring what people talk about and engaging with your network, avoid talking at them but rather talk with them. Deliver consistent transcreated content and you will be sure to receive many ‘Likes’, ‘+1s’, and ‘Retweets’.