The prevalence of social media has enabled unlimited data and information to reach even the farthest corners of the world. With almost 5 billion individuals – more than half of the total population worldwide – currently using this type of platform, it is not a surprise that social media is now used in different industries such as business, entertainment, healthcare, security, fashion, and the like.
To maximize the potential of social media, social media translations are taken advantage of and made into a tool that boosts all of its benefactors. With this being said, let us find out the answers to the following questions:
● What is it?
● Why is it significant?
● How is it done effectively?
Types of Social Media
Before delving into social media translation, first, let us get to know the different types of social media. According to Van Dijck, there are four main groups of social media: social network sites, user-generated content sites, trading and marketing sites, and play and game sites.
● Social Network Sites
First, social network sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, are ones that encourage interpersonal communication and the formation of relationships.
● User-Generated Content Sites
Second, user-generated content sites like YouTube and Wikipedia, are those that support innovation by allowing people of both types – professionals and amateurs – to share their various creations.
● Trading and Marketing Sites
Third, trading and marketing sites like Amazon and Craigslist are largely used to trade or market goods.
● Play and Game Sites
Fourth and last, play and game sites like DOTA, Valorant, and Genshin Impact are, as the name suggests, gaming platforms wherein users play to accomplish the goals of the games.
Defining Social Media Translations
Social Media Translation is done on anything existing on the internet, specifically the four types of social media aforementioned. This implies translating the original language of a post, product, or digital content into another existing language.
It first started in the late 2000s to early 2010s when the advent of these sites gradually became available to people all around the world. They realized that this tool is necessary, especially in the 21st century and the era of globalization.
Since then, social media translation has come a long way as it revolutionized the comprehensive marketing strategy of several companies and institutions. In fact, in order to achieve an international reach, it can be likened to a requirement already.
Some examples of social media platforms that typically use this service are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Wikipedia, Tiktok, and many other sites popular among the global audience.
Although big establishments are more likely to translate their social media material, small enterprises or one-person businesses can and actually still do opt to do this.
As the definition of social media translation is now established, we can move on to understanding the uses and importance of this service.
The Power of Social Media Translations
Like most things in life, social media translation has a lot of implications. It has a good effect on those who use it, and a bad effect on people who do not use it.
As previously mentioned, translation is necessary because it can significantly and positively impact its benefactors. As a matter of fact, The New York Times stated that social media can help a business by using it to obtain information and also by enhancing the brand.
Following the same line of thought, its translation will be able to multiply its rewards.
Obtaining Information By Translating Other Sources
Social media translation can be used as inputs to aid the building of a brand and ensure relevant decision-making.
● Build the Brand with a Stable Foundation
When creating a new brand or business, it is important to research about the needs and wants of the target audience. This might be hard to do because the data collected cannot be analyzed if it is in another language that is not understood by the staff.
Having social media translation done can enable the effective and efficient creation of a brand that has a foundation built upon multiple sources of information.
Messaging apps like Messenger, Line, Viber, and WhatsApp are prime instances of this as they have users worldwide that continuously give them feedback on how to improve. Surveys that are done on the internet similarly run using the same principle.
● Discover New Trends
Having content from TikToks that are multilingual and even news articles based in different areas of the world can make discovering new trends simpler and easier.
This data must come in fast because it can either make or break a company in this ever-changing and fast-paced world. Let’s face it – to stay relevant in this world, being aware of everything happening in real-time is simply needed.
This is even more apparent in the fashion industry where clothing trends are constantly shifting. For international brands such as Shein, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and Zara, having an updated collection of pieces every month or season relies on past trends on what people like to shop for and wear.
Thus, this is where translation comes into play. Gathering trends and popular styles from different countries will only be possible using this tool.
Benefits of social media translation for businesses
On the other hand, social media translation can also be used as outputs to improve the popularity and accessibility of the business.
Reach More People
Translating the original social media posts into ones of different languages is incredibly beneficial to an enterprise. This is because the translated work can now be read by many more people who may not be fluent in the original language.
Speaking from statistics alone, there are only 1.5 billion English speakers in the world. Although English is the most spoken language, Chinese, Hindi, and Spanish, among others, also take up the vast majority of the total population. Truth be told, the speakers of these three languages combined actually amount to more than the 1.5 billion English speakers.
Content creators from YouTube recognized this and so, multilingual captions and subtitles have become popular. This is undoubtedly due to the given evidence that 80% of people will more likely watch a captioned video.
So as you can see, In order to reach more people and expand the business to other markets, social media translation is a must.
Cater to Specific Audiences
Instead of broadening the market holistically, you can also choose specific audiences to engage in your posts. Translating and speaking using their everyday vernacular is one way to spark their interest.
It doesn’t stop with just choosing the language of the target country – there are also other factors to take into account. Such factors include age, occupation, gender, and others that may influence how they talk and perceive data.
For instance, if a product or post is intended for individuals aged 34 and below, Snapchat might be a great avenue. To fully connect with this audience, one must be knowledgeable about the slang and terms used by the audience.
LinkedIn, allegedly the largest website for a professional setting, will consequently need a different approach to translating than Snapchat because it must be free from slang. It may also contain some professional (business, medical, etc.) jargon that will otherwise not be commonly used elsewhere.
This all boils down to the concept of relatability or the ability to establish a connection. If a post is relevant to the one reading it, the brand is more likely to be able to get its point across and market its products.
What happens to brands not utilizing social media translation?
However, as much as it can give benefits to those that do it, it can also be a downfall for those that choose not to translate their social media posts. This is especially true for businesses that are just starting out and need exposure to fuel them.
The company risks becoming outdated and irrelevant without social media translation. To demonstrate, a study held in Saudi Arabia found that consumers agreed that more information should be present on social media regarding sustainable fashion. Using this information, users can translate this data into their language to avoid being left out of the current consumer preferences.
Moreover, an article expounds on what would happen for those that do not use social media for marketing. The implications are as follows:
● Less Trustworthy
People will trust an establishment less if they are not easily found on social media and backed by followers and likes. Seeing a brand offering services, but in another language that they are not fluent in can also contribute to distrust.
● Less Popularity
On social media, popularity is synonymous with and reflects authority. The more popular a post, the more people will be curious and end up believing it.
Less people will also be able to know that this brand exists if they don’t use social media translation because the audience didn’t see it as a share from their friends or from people they follow.
It is more hassle-free for users if the content online that they want to share is in the language that they understand.
● Fewer Potential Customers
Customers enjoy interacting with businesses that have an online personality, and who start and join in discussions without having a secret objective.
Less exposure means fewer potential customers for your business. Having social media and translating the content on it will mean that the potential customers are every one that comes across and reads the post.
● Tighter Room for Growth
Sticking to the same routine and strategy will not improve the business. It is only when innovation and creativity is used can a business prosper.
Feedback from various languages is a great way to spot the deficiencies or lack of the product and improve on them.
In the same way, tackling customers from different markets can pose a challenge that may lead to a beneficial turn for the company.
● Fewer Ways to Market
Influencers, individuals on social media with a large following, are great means to do the marketing for you. Having a diverse pool of influencers is the key to having a global network. Translating the texts for them to read is easy to do with great rewards.
Social Media Translation: Overcoming Language Barriers For Effective Communication
Not everyone has the skills needed to correctly translate social media content. It has its challenges that must be solved by seasoned professionals. To achieve this, some technicalities like the following are needed.
Extensive knowledge of the target audience and social media platform to be used is compulsory for an effective translation strategy.
Understand the Audience
You need to be aware of your target audience before translating the material. It is crucial to consider the type of audience that you’re aiming for. What country would they be from? Are you targeting English-speaking or non-English-speaking customers? Are you looking to enter new markets and expand the business?
You must also make material that is suitable for the audience. For example, content intended for young adults would not appeal in the same way to the elderly. Products meant for women might also be misinterpreted when presented to men.
Knowing the preferences of the target audience also means knowing what social media platforms they enjoy and frequent. This is very important as the content translation for a platform that is seldom ever utilized by the target market would be a waste of time and money.
Understand the Social Media Platform
Every social media network is unique, so what works well on Twitter might not work well on Facebook or Tiktok. Other than the specific media that performs best on each platform, the character or word restriction for each channel must also be taken into consideration.
For instance, a long translated paragraph will not be accepted on Twitter, so it is best to find short yet accurate translations for the text. An even shorter translation will be fit for Instagram that relies on brief captions of images.
Creativity and Critical Thinking
With social media translation, literal word-for-word translations will not work. Ingenuity is needed to create content that is tailor-fit for the specific post.
Be Aware of Jargon and Shared Words
What should be translated and what should not? Is there an equivalent word in the other language?
Jargon is an important consideration because English is the most used language on social media. Some English words have developed and gained use in other languages, so it’s best not to literally translate words that fall under this case.
Instead, using the shared words of two different languages which reflect the same meaning can be the right way to go.
Find the Best Tone of Voice and Style of Writing
People increasingly spend the majority of their time online. As such, it is important that they feel at ease interacting with the company. They won’t interact with you if you don’t communicate with them in a way that connects with them and makes them comfortable.
Choose Appropriate and Relevant Hashtags and Emojis
Hashtags are typically carefully selected words that are cleverly chosen to relay a message. Having this translated into another language can be difficult to master. Experimenting with different hashtags and careful selection of emojis will ensure that your social media posts won’t be lost in translation.
There are four groups of social media, and these all can benefit from translation.
Specifically, obtaining information from translations of other sources can help in building the brand with a stable foundation and in discovering new trends as well as enhancing the brand by translating its content to reach more people and cater to specific audiences.
These translations are so important that they can even negatively affect those that don’t translate. They can seem less trustworthy, be less popular with fewer potential customers, a tighter room for growth, and fewer ways to market.
It takes people with the appropriate skills to be able to translate correctly. They must have in-depth knowledge, creativity, and critical thinking skills.
With these techniques, they are able to understand the audience and the social media platform, be aware of jargon and shared words, find the best tone of voice and style of writing, and choose appropriate and relevant hashtags and emojis.
Although all of these may be difficult to do, if done properly, social media translation can be the secret to your global success.