As leading language services providers (LSPs) the world over try to establish footholds in global marketing and customer experience, they find themselves focusing on high-engagement communication channels like social media, where excellent localization is of the utmost importance.
GetSocial’s CEO João Romão understands the intricacies of social media localization. The following article is largely taken from Romão’s blog post “How to Localize Social Media Campaigns,” and is revised and republished here with his express permission.
Often, with little prior experience and limited funds, managers tasked with social media localization are faced with daunting priorities, the foremost of which is ensuring creative social is aligned with international expansion. Romão offers some procedural changes to make this easier:
Define the Local Market
The first task at hand is to work out which platforms are popular in each market. Realizing that in some markets like China, the usual Facebook + Twitter + Youtube combination is banned by authorities, alternatives such as WeChat and QQ are available. After this, Romão recommends you get to the bottom of what makes the platform tick: “the next step is to spend some time truly understanding exactly what people are using these sites for; is it microblogging? Sharing videos? Private messaging? The myriad distinctions in function between each social media platform can be dizzying but the best way to get to the bottom of what a channel is all about is to ask the question: what makes this channel successful and popular in this market?”
Romão explains that “content must be relevant and look native to each specific culture,” and recommends keeping abreast of social and political climates to “avoid churning accidentally insensitive remarks in to the public sphere.” It all boils down to efficient research, respect to societal norms, and drawing up an applicable culture / style guide for each market.
“Related to culture but still distinct enough to deserve separate consideration,” Romão says, “this is more about researching the general attitude and personality of a market.” He explains that within a person’s own country and culture, this process is instinctive, but unless the same person has spent years in a market they’ll be creating social content for, they’ll have to start from square one.
“A combination of field and desk research is vital to achieving this,” Romão says, recommending that it should be added into any cultural style guide being developed, and to always “consider the importance of transcreating – rather than simply translating.”
Create Localization-Ready Assets
“The scourge of every global marketer is having to work with creative that hasn’t been designed with localization in mind. Creating assets like videos, memes and infographics can be expensive enough – being lumped with a tranche of non-localisable creative that has to be made all over again for a new market is insanity; wasting time, money, and resources,” Romão says.
When rolling out a campaign across multiple markets, planning with localization in mind is a must. Romão gives an example: “[send] .psd asset templates for infographics to each localization team (rather than .jpgs which have to be edited all over again, inevitably creating unwanted variations between markets).”
Work with In-Country Teams and Avoid Machine Translation
Romão couldn’t be clearer about using Google Translate for something as high-quality as social media localization. He recommends to instead “create local teams in each country who can be in charge of adapting content to their markets. Cultural savvy is essential here — in-market linguists are best positioned to decide if a particular piece of social content is relevant to the target country, not only in terms of content but also tone… Also consider applying strict version control and don’t let translators or designers copy/paste content.”
Follow and Keep Up-to-Date with the Rules
In China, Romão explains, there are simply some words that aren’t allowed in social networks, and could result in users being banned from all networking if used. “When it comes to multiple market translation, social media platforms are prone to messing around with their rules. YouTube, for example, is scared of skewed view counts and have strict rules in place that must marketers must adhere to – just having different subtitles doesn’t quite cut it,” Romão says.
He strongly recommends research and keeping up-to-date with platform policies and developments.
Finally, “while it’s important to tailor content to multiple markets via segmentation, it is equally important to unify all of these markets through one global brand account – the ‘daddy’ account,” Romão says.
This is where Romão’s article concludes, and this last procedural change that he recommends is a structural paradigm many LSPs recognize: multiple localized markets under a single account where the high-quality translations and transcreations for each market provide the cultural user engagement needed, but the entire effort is centralized and managed efficiently under one dashboard, per se.
As LSPs appreciate this and know that they can categorically provide this level of granularity served under a single umbrella account, they appear to be leveraging this competitive advantage to move into many other aspects of global marketing.
The requirements of excellent social media localization as explained by Romão paint a picture of high-quality demand in a high-engagement channel that some of the leading LSPs are eager to fulfill.
Slator.com would like to thank João Romão, CEO at GetSocial.
Romao is a young entrepreneur giving companies insights and actionable data about their online users. Focusing on how social visitors behave and how they’re driving traffic and sales is his mission.