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5 social media translation mistakes most brands make – and how to avoid them

Published on December 20th, 2018

Social media is a vital marketing channel for brands in every industry but only 30% of marketers say their content strategy is highly effective. That is right, social media marketing is a tough nut to crack and it is even more challenging for international brands trying to manage a multilingual content strategy.

In this article, we look at the most common social media translation mistakes we see international companies make and then we tell you how to avoid them.

The top 5 social media translation mistakes

First, let us start with the most common social media translation mistakes we see, before we move on to how you can avoid them. The good news is these are all relatively easy to avoid, as long as you set up your social media marketing efforts correctly to begin with and manage things correctly.

That being said, we see these same mistakes all the time, so hopefully this post is going to make sure you do not follow the same path. Here are the top five mistakes to avoid:

  1. Using the same networks for every target audience: Facebook might be the most popular social network here, but it is not across half of Asia nor other parts of the world.
  2. Publishing multiple languages on the same account: Your accounts should not be mixed with English, Spanish, Korean and half a dozen other languages – stick to one account/page for each language.
  3. Using machine translation to translate posts: Remember when Facebook translated “good morning” into “attack them” and some guy got arrested? Do not use auto-translate for your social posts.
  4. Mistranslating hashtags: Or directly translating them when there is a better/more effective hashtag in the target language.
  5. Responding slowly: This is one of the biggest social media marketing mistakes you can make in any language, which means fast translation or native responses are vital.

If you are not making any of those translation mistakes, great – you are off to a better start than many brands. However, if you think you have fallen into some of these traps then you need to keep reading.

How to avoid these social media translation mistakes

The first thing you need to do to avoid these mistakes is know which markets you are targeting and do your research. Above all, you need to understand what the most popular networks among your target audiences in each region are and what kind of content is most effective for your marketing objectives, because it will not be the same everywhere.

If you are using a network like Facebook or Twitter, which are used by more than one of your target audiences, you need a way to segregate your content by languages. Create separate accounts for each language to ensure users only see content in their language and localise your content strategy to publish posts that are relevant to each audience.

Oh yeah, never ever use machine translation to translate your social content. Ever.

Another big mistake we see brands make is mistranslating their hashtags – either because they made genuine mistakes or they have literally translated their English hashtag and it does not mean what they think it does in the target language. Here is the real kicker, though: even if you translate your hashtag accurately, it does not mean this is the hashtag that is going to perform most effectively – so restart your hashtag research from scratch.

Finally, you need to distinguish between when you should translate content and when you should just use native speaking social team members. For example, you do not want to be translating customer service conversations. Just hire social media team members for that native language so you can respond quickly and effectively to use concerns.

Social media is all about engagement after all.

If you think your social media marketing efforts are being held back by poor translation, get in touch with our social media translation team today.

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Posted on: December 20th, 2018