Multilingual social media agency - Should you run it?

Whether you are running global marketing campaigns for a huge multinational organization or you run a more modest import/export business, you should be considering multilingual social media marketing, which means translating your social media marketing into more than one language.

Those readers involved in marketing will know the concept of targeting the right people, at the right time, in the right place. If you decide that social media is the right place, you may be wasting your time if all your posts are in English when 50% of your customers are Spanish. Likewise, if you try to address the large Arabic-speaking world with a website that offers little content in Arabic, well, let's say there is a small handicap in your strategy. This is a relatively easy and cost effective way to run a global marketing campaign, which traditionally would have demanded huge budgets, making it inaccessible to many smaller businesses. All you need for a successful social media campaign is a good translator and some local knowledge to ensure your campaigns aren’t inadvertently offensive to some cultures. I’d highly recommend reading this very entertaining article from Business insider, which highlights some marketing campaigns which were definitely lost in translation. One of the most famous examples of this was a Pepsi campaign which had the slogan "Come alive with Pepsi". Unfortunately, when it was translated in China it became "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead". However, do not let this put you off. As long as you use a good translator you can avoid these pitfalls. Our one word of advice would be to avoid free programs like Google Translate as these usually offer very poor quality translations and may leave your potential customers very confused. If you get it right, then taking this simple step could transform your business. As noted by James Brockbank on the in September 2015, 75% of internet users will make important purchase decisions when products are in a language they speak and over 70% of global users don’t cite English as their mother tongue. By producing English-only social media marketing, you could be excluding over 70% of Internet users.


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Another pitfall to avoid is assuming the social media channels which work in your home market will work in other countries. The obvious example of this is Facebook, which might be one of the world’s most popular networks but is banned in China. Do your research and find out the most popular networks in your target country, then find out what type of people use them and pick the site most relevant to your business. It’s absolutely no different to planning a marketing campaign in your own country, it just happens to be in a different language and targeted at a different culture. Here are our top 5 tips for launching a multilingual social media campaign.

  1. Do your market research – identify your target customers and find out their interest and habits.
  1. Create specific campaigns for specific countries. Don’t assume that one campaign can just be translated and will work for all. Sometimes this can work but not always.
  1. Keep up to date with local news and events to avoid pitfalls. Also be very careful about trying to capitalize on big news stories unless you truly understand them. The classic example often used to illustrate this is when fashion designer Kenneth Cole used the 2011 political uprising in Egypt, to try to promote his new collection by tweeting 'Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online…”
  1. Make sure you are targeting the most relevant social media networks in the countries you are targeting. Don’t assume that a Facebook campaign will work everywhere.
  1. Use a professional translator. It is a false economy to use a free online translation tool, as it is more likely to alienate your potential customers than gain their patronage.