Translation and Social Media blog

Hooray for Social Media?

You will have noticed that during the last few years everyone’s lives have been touched by social media – even those who are against the proliferation of online communities can’t help but shout about their dislike and distrust of it. But for most, it’s been an opportunity for individuals and businesses to really
experience a different way of keeping in touch.

Social media in the marketing mix

From the marketer’s perspective social media opens up new and direct channels for reaching out to and engaging with customers and prospects in meaningful, and relevant ways. The most important difference though is that dialogue becomes 2-way, and needs to be maintained, and consequently managing can prove quite time-consuming.

Depending on the nature of your product or service, you may be engaging with consumers directly or alternatively you may be promoting a business to business proposition to prospects or clients. It’s likely therefore that you’re using a mixture of social media platforms depending on the preference of your target audience and where its effectiveness will be greatest. You may even be running different accounts allowing you to separate your business communications from maintaining day to day consumer contact.

Just add languages . . .

. . . except there’s no ‘just’ about it! Once your product, brand or service gains market share internationally, it becomes as important to engage with your non-English speaking audience as you do with those who speak English. Of course, you could work on the basis that your customers will adjust to your English-only communications, but this is a risky strategy because you may end up alienating more of your valuable customers than you succeed in winning over.

So what can you do?

You know how time consuming it is writing, scheduling and checking social media input; never mind responding to relevant output and ad hoc feedback. If you have a schedule that reaches out at regular intervals it is worth checking with your translation provider if they’re able to manage this schedule for you into individual locations, using dedicated accounts. For instance; if they’re tweeting to your German customers, they could do so under a yourcompanyname_DE account. This makes it easier to track reporting as well as manage communications.

Machine translation or human translation?

Machine translation is really coming of age – our website’s MT pages carry some really useful information on this – and for content that is not business-critical, it’s the perfect compromise between instantly-available translation which can be understood most of the time by most people and the more labour-intensive yet considered translation undertaken by a professional translator.

If you need to quickly respond to incoming IM, live chat or SMS enquiry, post an answer to a question asked via Facebook, or add a caption to Pinterest; machine translation is the perfect tool.

Time permitting though; for instance if you’re running a specific country campaign or launching a product and expecting a significant number of live discussions, it would be worth lining up a human translator to help with potential peaks in volume and complexities of communication.


But what if something goes wrong? What if one or more people complain about a product or service? How about if your brand comes under attack and you need to undertake damage limitation or risk management? This is definitely where assistance from a human translator would be helpful. Of course, you can take the conversation off line which will help you manage dialogue better, but you still need to turn negative customer experiences into a positive ones, and the only way to do this by getting the customer onside using the subtleties within their own language.

Make connections

So whether you use machine translation, human translation or a combination of both, the key is to work with your translation provider to determine the appropriate level of accuracy needed for each activity. Once this is established, make the most of the multilingual resources available to you to fully engage with your newly-found audiences.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how PUSH International can help with your international social media strategies.

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