Introduction to social media localization
Ever considered a social media localization strategy for your business? Social media has become the main means for brands to connect with their customers. However, when deciding to go global, most brands’ social media strategies fail without localization.
Today the regions with the highest internet growth are Asia and South America. The most widely spoken languages in these regions happen to be among the fastest-growing languages in the world. Chinese, Spanish, Hindu, Urdu, Portuguese, have increased their speakers massively in recent years.
So, if you plan to expand your business globally, do you think that publishing your content in English will be enough to engage with new, international customers?
Definitely not. In fact, a CSA study shows that 65% of customers expect brands to deliver content in their native language.
In other words, you have to make sure that your content is not only in the local language of your target customers but also culturally appropriate.
This means that you have to adapt the colors, images, and tone of your message to make it reflect the culture of your target audience.
Localization is the process whereby content is not only translated, but adapted to the cultural norms and beliefs of the target locales.
Why should you localize your social media?
The benefits of social media localization go beyond an increased customer base.
Adapting your content to the local culture of your customers will help you build a positive relationship between the target locale and your brand. Catering to customers in their language makes your brand more approachable and authentic.
What’s more, not many brands invest in localization services for their content. In other words, this investment will help you gain a competitive advantage.
Last, but not least, having an enhanced global presence will inevitably attract new customers, which, in turn, will result in higher revenue.
Sounds interesting, doesn’t it! But you have to keep in mind that it’s a complex process. Having the right localization strategy will help you avoid any bumps along the way.
So, here are our 10 tips on social media localization to help you get the best results in the shortest amount of time!
1. Choose your social media account strategy
There are two main strategies: You could either have one account for posting all your content in all the target languages or create a different account for each language.
Each of these strategies has its pros and cons. So let’s have a closer look at each of these strategies.
The Canadian government, for instance, is successfully implementing the first strategy. Since English and French are the official languages of the country, the government’s account posts content in both.
Also Read: Italian vs French: How Different and Similar are these Languages?
In fact, the biggest pro of having a single account is that it is much easier to manage than multiple accounts. However, having a single account won’t allow you to create a more personal connection with your customers.
Your content will be viewed by people with diverging social and cultural backgrounds. It is highly unlikely that your content will resonate with all of them.
If you think that having a single account might not work for you, you can select the second option. While maintaining multiple accounts is quite demanding, the payoff will be pretty high if done correctly.
By dividing your social media accounts for each locale, you can create content specifically catered to the expectations of your customers. For instance, the South Korean tech company, Samsung maintains social media accounts for each of its target locales.
What is even more impressive is that the company’s accounts function independently. Besides the translated text, the account offers completely different experiences to its users, depending on the locale.
2. Choose the right platform(s)
Do your research on the most popular platforms in your target locale. For instance, if your target region is China, having a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account will not help you reach new customers. These platforms are blocked in the country.
Instead, you should use social platforms such as WeChat, Dauyin, and Weibo, which are the most popular ones in the country.
Have a look at Coca Cola’s Wechat account:
In Russia, on the other hand, the mainstream social media platforms are not blocked. However, they happen to be less popular among the Russian people. Instead of Instagram, Facebook, and the like, in Russia, most people have an account in VK (ВКонтакте which means “in connection”).
Therefore, if you want to reach more Russian customers, you might as well create a profile in VK as many international brands.
Also read: 7 Common Russian Translation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
3. Keep text expansion in mind
When creating the layout of your content, leave enough space between the different elements such as text, graphs, or images.
Due to text expansion, sometimes text can take up significantly more space. For instance, if you translate a text from English to Russian, you can expect an expansion of up to 300%.
The same holds true for audio or video files. If you are doing a voice-over for a video, always ensure that the file is long enough. If the voice-over is longer than the video itself, you will have to edit the video all over again.
And as you can imagine, this will cost you time and money. Text expansion might crush all the efforts you have invested in designing a post, so always be aware of text expansion!
4. Use accurately stamped audio scripts
Video content is the most frequently consumed type of content nowadays. However, it is pretty challenging to translate and localize video content.
Nevertheless, there is one big game changer called audio script.
Having scripts with accurate timestamps is a great way to handle text expansion while enabling easy translation.
By providing the translator with a script, it will be much easier for them to translate the content while keeping in mind the length of each segment.
This way they will be aware of the time limits of the audio and will adapt their translations accordingly.
As a result, the translated content will have approximately the same length as the source text.
5. Adjust your audio synchronization and subtitles
When you translate your video materials, you have to keep in mind that when translating the text into new languages, the word order might change.
Thus, if you have synced your video to a word cue, even the slightest change in word order might mean a costly re-creation of the whole animation to match the new text.
When you want to localize your content, keep this issue in mind. You can avoid it by simply syncing your video to a sentence or paragraph instead.
When it comes to subtitles, there are a few aspects you should consider:
First, subtitles should be located at the lower third of the screen. They should not contain long sentences. As a rule of thumb, subtitles should not exceed two lines.
You have to adapt the style of the subtitles according to the outset. If your video contains darker colors, you should use lighter, contrasting colors for your subtitles.
Last but not least, using custom fonts for the subtitles is not advisable since they might not be compatible with some scripts. Instead, use more common fonts, such as Ariel or Ariel Black.
6. Include local events
Create your social media content according to the local events of your target audience.
For example, Black Friday is the most profitable day for most companies in the US and, since recently, in Europe.
However, this is not the case for China where Single’s Day generates higher profits.
Also Read: Doing Business in China: The Cultural Differences You Need to Know
Single’s Day takes place on the 11th of November, which is not just a random date. The 1’s on this date (the 11th day of the 11th month of the year) represent all the people who do not have a partner and are not in a romantic relationship.
Posting in accordance with the local events, regardless of whether it’s a national holiday or a breaking news story, makes you part of the local market. And it is bound to attract new customers.
7. Using culturally specific images and graphs.
Using images or graphs that are culturally specific is a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, these images usually require expensive and lengthy rework when localized, so you will save yourself a lot of time and money if you avoid them.
However, using images that represent people and locations from your target locale will resonate better with your locale customers. In other words, your potential customers will see familiar faces or views. This, in turn, will build their trust towards your brand’s authenticity.
For instance, an image Audi has posted on their Kuwait Instagram profile has one of their new models. What is truly impressive, however, is the background itself. As one can see in the background are some of Kuwait’s best-known tourist spots, such as the Al Hamra Firdous Tower and the Liberation Tower.
A smart move from Audi, indeed!
Pro tip: You have to be very careful when selecting colors for your images. Colors have different meanings in different cultures. For instance, green is usually associated with money and prosperity in Western countries. In the Islamic world, however, green has a religious connotation attached to it since it is considered the color of Paradise in the Qur’an.
Also Read: Localizing Colors for Different Cultures
8. Adapt the tone of your content
Different cultures have different norms when it comes to communication. Thus, you need to understand how the people in your target locale interact with each other to communicate your message effectively.
For instance, young people’s attitudes towards older people might vary in different cultures. Communication between different sexes might follow certain norms.
In order to reach your customers and not offend them, you have to watch the tone of your content. For example, if your brand’s target audience is young people, your content should adapt the tone of their attitudes.
Young people’s speech is often associated with jargon, slang, and colloquial expressions. Implementing these into your content would bring you closer to your target group.
The fashion brand H&M employs a similar strategy. Have a look at a caption of one of H&M’s recent Instagram posts:
The brand targets younger people and the tone of its content reflects that. If we compare the tone of H&M’s captions with Chanel’s Instagram posts, you will see a significant difference.
Chanel’s post is longer and more descriptive. The language itself is rather formal. Indeed, such a tone is more appropriate, considering the type of customers that a high-end fashion brand would want to attract.
9. Accommodate your users’ experience
A crucial part of the localization process is to adapt all aspects of the content to the target locale. This includes text and images, along with other features, such as:
- date formats
- address formats
- units of measurement
If your content refers to any of these, you have to localize them with the rest of the content.
For instance, on Kia Motor’s USA Instagram account, all units of measurements are in miles. While Europe and many other locales around the world utilize units of measurement such as meters, centimeters, and kilometers, the USA diverges from the norm.
To accommodate its customers, the South Korean automobile manufacturer has localized its content to the target locale successfully.
These are small details that might seem unimportant but will make a big difference to your customers. So make sure to localize any of the aforementioned features.
10. Finalize content before you start localizing
Let’s finish this guide with a crucial tip. Localization of Social Media content is a significant investment. Thus, ensure that before moving on to the localization process, your content is ready to be localized. This means that you do not intend to make any changes to it.
This will guarantee that the localization process will run smoothly and according to plan!
Localization of Social Media content can be expensive, complex, and challenging to get right.
Smaller businesses might not have the budget to localize all their content. However, it’s not necessary to go all in. You can start by localizing only your top-performing content and move on from there.
It is best to finalize a budget. Then, based on your finances, you can discuss all possible localization strategies with a professional. .
Regardless of its size, localization is a significant investment for any business. However, when done right, you can reap big rewards.