Social media provides one of the easiest ways for brands to keep in touch with their customers and expand their audience. Or that’s how the theory goes, at least. In reality, social media marketing is a time-consuming process, especially when you’ve got multiple languages to think about.
Social media translation is one thing, but how do you structure your accounts to deliver content to people in the right language? Likewise, how do you generate enough of a return on your multilingual social efforts to make it profitable?
Know your network limitations
Your first challenge with multilingual social media isn’t social media translation, it’s knowing how to post in multiple languages on each network. You don’t want your English-speaking customers seeing content in Spanish and German, or vice versa – you want each audience to see their language and nothing else.
Let’s say you want to use Twitter to keep in touch with your audiences. Now, you can use language targeting with Twitter ads to reach each audience from the same account but you can’t filter regular posts for each audience on the network.
To do that, you’ll have to create separate accounts for each target audience. The downside is you make Twitter management far more complex and slash the number of your followers and interactions.
Things are considerably better on Facebook. As with Twitter, you can target languages with ads on the network but you can also create a single business page and select audiences by language for regular posts. You simply write your posts in each language and users only see the version in their native tongue (based on their location) with the option to see other versions.
Facebook still hasn’t perfected multilingual account management, though. Your page descriptions and other info will remain the same and filtering posts from users rather than yourself is more challenging. Essentially, it’s still not easy to make sure users only see posts in their own language with one business page.
So, for now, it’s still probably best to have a separate Facebook page for each language.
You need fast, conversational social media translation
Engagement is crucial to any social media marketing strategy and speed is always an important factor. People want responses quickly and this makes your social media translation demands more challenging. First, you have disgruntled customers to think about – more of whom turn to social media to get their problems fixed. They don’t like to be left waiting around.
Then you have multilingual campaigns to deal with. Facebook allows you to post in multiple languages at the same time but this doesn’t help you manage conversations in each of those languages at the same time.
When you post in five different languages at once, you need to be on top of your social media translation to keep the conversation running smoothly.
Brand voice and social media management
Social media translation isn’t your only language challenge with multilingual social media. You also want to keep a consistent brand in each language, whether you decide to maintain the same identity with each target audience or create variations better suited to their needs.
Either way, it’s important your brand voice(s) are consistent throughout your translations. This can be particularly challenging when you have to respond quickly, which is where you might want to call upon some translation memory to speed up the process.
Your other big challenge is managing the workload of social media accounts for multiple languages. Luckily, there are plenty of tools like Hootsuite and Buffer that make it easy to manage multiple social media accounts and pages. You can also automate and schedule posts, which will be an important part of your strategy (don’t forget about time differences).
Technology can really help you get more from your multilingual social media strategy but it won’t get you all the way. You’ll still need the resources for some manual posting to give your brand that human element. You might get away with automating 50%-70% of your social media efforts in various languages, but the latter end of that is really pushing it.
If you’re not sure how to find the right balance, get in touch with our team of multilingual social media translation experts today.