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The expensive translation mistakes businesses make on social media

Social media is so important to businesses that 74% of consumers cited that they relied on it when making a purchasing decision. So if you are translating your business and trying to engage with foreign markets, these social media translation mistakes could be costly.

Not researching social media markets

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when trying to go global is that they don’t thoroughly research the market they are targeting. By concentrating solely on the differences in languages, most companies tend to forget that social media markets around the world tend to vary significantly.

For example, a business looking to grow in China will see no expansion using the likes of Facebook, despite the fact that the social media site has over 1.5 billion active users. That’s because Facebook has been banned in China since 2009. As such the most popular social media site in China is Baidu Tieba, with around 300 million users.

Not producing content tailored for different languages

Social media is a great way to engage with people and spread your brand’s name. But if your business only provides social media content in English you are neglecting the 70% of internet users people who use the internet speaking in another language.

Although sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all recently launched translation apps, the technology used is at a very early stage and the translation is often very flawed. Businesses that offer only a literal translation of their English language social media activity will fail to reach that 70%. Creating new, localised content is the only way to do that.

In addition to the language, the content itself should also be tailored. Social media accounts in different countries shouldn’t have identical content, especially if not all the information needs to be shared with all of your followers. For example, an offer that is only available in the Netherlands would only be relevant to tweet to your Dutch customers.

On Facebook you can target individual audiences depending on their language. For example, if you are posting updates in Portuguese then it will only appear on the news feeds of those who follow you that have their settings saved to Portuguese.

You can do this by changing your page’s language preferences. When you post you will see a ‘target’ appear at the bottom of the status box. Click on that and select ‘Add Targeting’ which will allow you to send an update to the right followers.

Not using an editor with local insight

Particularly on social channels messages are likely to include slang or specific phrases that only native speakers would understand. Translating this in a way that allows your content to remain engaging and on message requires a professional.

A native linguist can help your business reach audiences in ways others fail to. Proof-reading for translation mistakes is something we specialise in at Global Voices and can localise your content to different audiences around the world.


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