There's no doubt that language on social networks has changed the way we express ourselves. Written language is now closer than ever to oral language, and it's never been easier for anyone to write for a large audience. If we add to this the revealing statistic that more than 90% of large companies and 50% of SMEs have a presence on social media, and if your business also sells products and/or services abroad, you absolutely need to translate and adapt your social media content for each country. A poor translation on social media can seriously damage your brand image.
Factors to take into account when translating for social media
When a brand sets out a social media strategy the main aim is to get their brand closer to a specific audience. Your content on the various social media platforms reflects your brand identity, and a strategy usually defines the type and tone of content your brand values convey.
When it comes to creating and translating content, each platform has its own characteristics. As well as its own obstacles:
- Tailored content. Writing a post on LinkedIn or Twitter, or sharing an image on Instagram, are very different things. They're different platforms and they target different audiences. This is why you need to adapt your content to each social media platform, as well as the corresponding translations.
- Adapting to space. Some social media platforms like Twitter limit text to 280 characters. Other platforms have no limitations - but if the text is long, only part of it will show in the preview. To ensure your readers read on, you need to make an impact in your first two sentences.
- Immediacy. You can't wait a week to answer a social media message, and if you want to make the most of it, you should share content that's relevant right at that moment. This is why you need to plan carefully, with agility built in - and this also extends to social media translation services.
- Engagement. The key to success on social media platforms is to make sure your messages connect with users and bring them closer to brands. That's why the content you share - and the translations - need to be carefully worded and sound natural.
- Stay away from machine translation on social media. Social media users are particularly critical and demanding when it comes to the content brands share. If a message is impossible to understand, contains mistakes, or has been translated automatically, it can provoke criticism from users and affect a business's reputation (every week we share an example of this on our social media networks).
Social media translation strategy
Within your wider social media translation strategy, the first point to consider is defining any potential language varieties (by geographical area) and the tone you wish to convey, according to the target audience you're aiming your general business strategy at on social media. It's essential to define your tone with a native speaker of the target language - someone who understands how your strategy can be conveyed without losing the essence of the content in the source language.
Another way of tailoring your content to customers in several languages is to create different profiles depending on the geographical area they're present in. Well-known brands such as Flying Tiger have several profiles depending on the region, for example in Spain, Portugal, Greece, or Copenhagen, its global headquarters. This way you can be sure that each account is adapted to each country's culture and language, and, being more relatable, this in turn will get you closer to your audience.
Putting your trust in a translation company prevents you from making errors which could prove fatal for your brand: not only will you be publishing social media content in error-free language, it also makes it easier to create content tailored to the target country, as the translators will be specialist, native speakers.
Your company's image and social media reputation are at stake, so don't leave anything in the hands of those who aren't professionals - or free machine translators. In the same way that social media should be managed by the experts, content creation in other languages should be left to the professionals too.
At AT Language Solutions we translate content for major brands' social media platforms on a daily basis, giving us a wealth of experience - and we work with native translators who specialise in digital marketing and community management. Contact us!