Is multilingual social media for you?
Increasingly, people turn to their social networks to learn about different cultures, cuisines, and, well, just about anything. For companies operating across multiple languages, multilingual social media opens up a way to reach a wider audience.
Before you invest time and money, take a few minutes to see if posting in more than one language is right for you.
Do you already work with clients in another language?
If you never or rarely work with clients in a second language, you likely do not need multilingual social media (unless you answer ‘yes’ to the next section!). On the other hand, maybe you want to engage existing clients who speak another language. If so, multilingual social media is for you.
Do you want to work with clients in a new language or market?
Perhaps you want to reach an entirely new market. If you want to reach a new demographic, multilingual social media is for you. Social media posts in a new language will give you visibility and help engage new customers.
Can you commit to building quality content in each new language?
Naturally, multilingual marketing is only as good as its content. Be sure you have the resources to provide quality content regularly. You will need a translator or native-speaking staff member to localize existing content or create new content from scratch. Additionally, you will need someone who can respond to comments and messages.
Narrow your focus
Once you decide to go multilingual, pick each new language carefully. A few key questions can help you narrow your focus.
Where does my engagement come from?
One of the simplest ways to decide which language to target is to look at your engagement. Perhaps you already track data on your social media and website. Numerous tools (like TinyURL or Bitly) tell you about what country people click on your links from. Facebook also shows demographic data for people who like your page. This gives you invaluable insight into which new language to target.
Which language will help grow my business?
Along with where your engagement comes from, consider where you want to grow. The classic example is a company based in Germany that wants to touch a broader European market. Currently about 52% of all websites use English. In that case, social media in English also makes sense. Conversely, a company in Europe that targets the Japanese market will want to have social media accounts in Japanese.
Choose your platform
Although social media giants Facebook, Instagram and Twitter tend to dominate, don’t stop there. Different markets may actually favor a different platform. In China, for example, Facebook is famously off-limits. However, one billion users per month flock to WeChat. Companies looking to connect with Chinese users will miss out if they aren’t on the platform as well.
Create multiple accounts..or not?
Often, how you decide to go multilingual will depend on your specific goals and the platform. Let’s take a look at going multilingual on the most common platforms.
You can set up a separate business page for each region that you want to target. Uber Eats in Tokyo, for example, has its own Facebook page. But if your goal is simply occasional multilingual engagement, Facebook has an easy tool. Before you post use the “target” icon to filter your post by language, region and other options.
As an image-based platform, text tends to be short on Instagram. That said, some companies post in two or three languages on the same post. However, industry best practice recommends separate accounts for multi-location or multilingual companies. Don’t forget to include tags in each of your target languages, so people can find you!
Twitter is tough for multilinguals. Followers feel spammed if you post several times in different languages. However, a different account altogether can divide your following. This depends on your individual situation. A smaller company might be content to post in a common language, like English, and post in Japanese occasionally. Then, when the Japanese following grows, the company can spin off a new Japanese-language account.
It goes without saying that local platforms are most effective in the local language. A new social media account on the region’s hottest platform is always a smart choice. Just look at Burberry, who targeted Japanese consumers by using the LINE platform to live-stream their autumn/winter collection launch in 2015.
How to reach them and keep them
Remember, social media allows you to reach people, but your content is what will keep them. A good translation company can help you avoid awkward or offensive disasters.
Remember, just because your content is in another language does not mean your reputation is safe. The last thing you want is to alienate your audience with an avoidable mistake!