Social media is increasingly important to businesses as they try to interact and engage with a global audience.
Research by eMarketer predicted that nearly one in four people worldwide used social networks in 2013. By 2017 the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion, which demonstrates just how important applications such as Facebook and Twitter have become.
However, translating these short and snappy posts can create a headache for firms pursuing a global strategy, as they need to be sure that their localized social media output is consistent with their corporate brand. The time sensitive nature of social media only adds to the challenge.
Context and relevance
According to branding and marketing specialist Veronique Mermaz, context and relevance is key. Regardless of the language people are going to use, it's important to make sure the message of the point is maintained.
"Spontaneity, empathy or a tone of voice is difficult to reproduce in another language. Humour and cultural references, points of view and colloquial expressions don't cross the language barrier well in 140 characters," she stated.
"On Twitter, a 130-character message in English can easily become 160 characters when translated in French. Like good manners, hashtags have a meaning in a precise context."
Because of this, she is of the conclusion that multilingual social media is very much a human job, as real-time translation still has a long way to go and cannot be relied upon to always produce an accurate translation.
If brands want to develop conversations with customers in more than one language, they are going to need skilled linguists to do so.
Target the right audience
Social media is still very much a young marketing channel and so there is still a degree of trial and error associated with using it effectively. However, firms need to have their targeting right.
The benefits of online localization are already well established, as localized marketing content will have greater relevance to consumers, drive higher response rates and repeat business if done correctly.
Planning is vitally important, as brands need to have an editorial calendar that integrates national and local messaging. As part of this, suggested posts for the week can be outlined and this means local users will always have a menu of good content.
A local social strategy
Jon Schepke, founder and president of SIM Partners, thinks brands need to utilize geotargeting tools to push localized content to their social networks. He pointed out how Facebook has a function that can "significantly increase the engagement and exposure of brand posts".
Writing on Search Engine Watch, Mr Schepke stated posts can be targeted by gender, relationship status, educational status, age, location and language. He said this is a "simple but effective way to put the right messages in the right geographic areas".
The expert also advocates the use of local social advertising, as he thinks this is a great way to drive relevant leads to the right location, which in turn should boost engagement and conversion – the ultimate aim of social content.