Do You Speak Social? A Primer on Creating Social Copy for Multilingual Markets

In today’s digital age, online content has morphed into a currency of its very own – a currency for communication. Its ability to engage global audiences, in real time, anywhere in the world, makes its reach unrivalled. And with such a powerful tool at our disposal, comes a responsibility to ensure the content we share makes the right kind of impact.

The digital space is ever-evolving – news is only news if it's new. Every day, hour, second there is new content published that can overshadow and overwrite what has come before it. However, the ability to share, screenshot, and retweet means brand blunders can live on much longer than they would have done previously. This can make social media a total minefield to navigate. Get it right, and you’re on the road to global glory, but get it wrong, and you risk a bruising to your brand image, along with an audience who have lost trust in your brand values.

With all this in mind, adapting your online copy for multilingual markets is no mean feat. Brands must break the mould when it comes to localizing their social campaigns – switching out traditional translation methods for a more strategic approach that hones in on the behavioural as well as the linguistic. To develop such a strategy, it’s worth taking the time to consider the building blocks that will support your foundations for localization.


Set the Stage

You’ve identified your target markets and their specific locales – now it’s time to pick your platforms. Although the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn might seem like the obvious contenders, it’s vital to tune into the channels most popular with your target markets. For example, in most of China such platforms are blocked and therefore rarely used by market-based consumers. And in South Korea, much of the social scene takes place on a platform called KaoKaoTalk. Knowing your market’s local hotspots for the highest social engagement ensures your messaging reaches the people it’s written for. Trust in in-situ specialists to show you around the social space and keep you in step with what’s trending in your target market.

Next, you should turn your attention to how you can get the most from your social copy. And this is where your strategy comes in. Successful engagement on a global scale often requires an approach that is tailored to a local level. Opting to publish multiple languages on one social account, without the use of proper targeting, will lead to a lukewarm reaction that sees your messaging scrolled past and skim-read. 

Instead, if you wish to manage a global account and combine languages, then curate foreign language profiles to target each of your specific audiences – this not only makes your content more accessible, but it gives your followers a chance to fully grasp every bit of your social copy, leading to all-round more effective engagement. Following a strategy that is guided by local trends will allow you to create a sense of relatability around your content – in turn growing a consumer base with a community feel, who are much more likely to stay loyal to your brand in the long run.

A Bespoke Approach

When faced with a dizzying sea of social media jargon, character restrictions, and hashtag strategy, localizing your social content calls for skills far beyond those possessed by your average translator. To win in this arena, you need to partner with on-the-ground specialists who can be your eyes and ears when it comes to keeping up with trending topics, current voices, and all the latest lingo. 

So, although consistency is key when it comes to translation, here, the localization strategy must shift from blanket to bespoke. To pull off a tailored social strategy for each of your target markets whilst still projecting one cohesive brand image, you need an air-tight tone of voice. Before beginning any localization work you should therefore spend time drilling down on your brand identity to ensure all stakeholders have a clear, collective vision of what defines your brand. That way, when you come to involve a localization partner and your in-market talent, you will all be speaking the same language.

One element that sets social media copy apart from other marketing collateral, is its prolific use of hashtags. Hashtags are essential for every social media campaign. They are the lungs that bring your social copy to life, and keep it alive – fueling the buzz and conversation around your content. So, it’s no surprise that they should form a key part of your transcreation strategy. Should you translate them? How will you integrate them into your posts? Do you want a certain hashtag to achieve global reach and viral potential? These are all discussions that should be had before you launch into any localization work. 

This is not to say your approach must be set in stone from the get-go. In fact, if you do not have the know-how in-house, then it would be wise to welcome guidance from your language partner on what works best for each market. This may involve researching international competitors in your space, and what approach they are taking to tags, learning your audience’s habits, and selecting tags that reflect the behaviour and interactions seen in your target community.


Tracked and Tested

Social strategy is a two-way street. Much like fruitful conversation, it should be a dynamic, balanced interaction between parties – in this context, brand and consumer. So, although it’s important to plan out your strategy in advance, it must come with enough slack to accommodate consumer feedback along the way. Being open to and aware of the way in which your audience is perceiving your content, as it goes live, allows you to better understand the behaviours and patterns that exist in these environments. You can then use this valuable feedback to help shape and inform your strategy moving forward. 

And there are several tools and tactics you can call upon to help you tune into these all-important conversations. So, trust in technology to help you digest your data. Not only can it provide one easy-to-navigate space for all your scheduling and managing needs, its ability to track and record how your various campaigns are performing means you can take stock of the bigger picture, whilst keeping your finger on the pulse.

Got an upcoming social campaign that you’d like to take into foreign territories? Get in touch at hello@mothertongue.com to find out how we can support your localization strategy.

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