Operating in global markets sets an interesting dilemma: what language should one use in their content? Data says that about 63% of websites are in English but his alone does not mean that English content rules over local languages, as only 26% of people online use English.
When choosing the language for content creation, the target markets, their preferred channels, and the type of product or service should be carefully analysed before making any decisions.
Sometimes these decisions are rather simple to make. For example, if targeting end-users of beauty products both in China and the UK with the main channel being TikTok, it is clear that the TikTok platform as we in the Western countries know it should be in English. This is due to the fact that the people in China use Douyin, their own version of the app. In addition, these end-users will surely appreciate learning about the product in their own languages.
On the other hand, if the company targets different European markets in one channel, such as Instagram, the question gets trickier. In a case like this, the company should analyse whether using multiple languages and multiple localised accounts for sharing its content is more beneficial than using one global account in English.
While multiple localised accounts sound like a lot of work, it is good to keep in mind that people often prefer getting information in their own language. Engaging with the customers and gaining their trust is similarly much easier when the language in common is the audience’s native one.
Even if managing multiple accounts in different languages means more work, you can make the job easier by following the tips listed below.
Invest in good translations
Professional translating is much more than translating the words into a different language. We often use idioms and other playful language that simply don’t work when translated directly. Professional translators know this and adapt the content into a form that does not sound translated and awkward but instead like it is written in the native level from the beginning.
Remember that customers will most likely want service in the same language than the account is. Make sure you have customer service representatives who can take care of that.
When creating content in multiple languages, planning ahead gets even more crucial. Create a publishing calendar for each language and decide what posts can be shared in all accounts and what should stay localised. Thanksgiving may not be relevant in Sweden and Scandinavian Midsummer is totally irrelevant for Australians.
Pay attention to each market and their special features.
Remember cultural differences
Cultural differences are yet another reason to use a professional translator. Sometimes jokes and metaphors, or even cultural events, we find funny or clever are not that for people from different cultures. Humour varies greatly from country to country, and when translated directly, your jokes become a huge hit or miss. Professionals know how to translate the message into something that works for the desired audience, even if that requires changing the content.
Define what it is to be translated
Before sending the material for translation, define what is required to translate. How much of the product name, brand-related things, such as events or programmes, are to be translated and how much of them are to be used in the original language. Are the slogans or other sentences that are to be kept the same? Let your translator know these in advance.
Allow 30% expansion to the text
Remember that some languages, such as German, for example, may take more characters to tell the same message. Always plan your content in a way that allows 30% expansion to the original text.
Treat channels equally
While it is easy to focus on your local market and let the other channels survive on the side, this does no good for your community building. Instead, actively engage with your audience by hosting competitions, collaborating with local influencers and organizations, and in general, treat every different language version like they are worth the same.