Does your company need to have a social media presence in more than one language? Do you struggle to allocate resources to generating not just one, but two or more Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, blogs, etc.?
This is a relatively common issue, especially for small and medium-sized company who don’t have the employees and budgets to handle multiple accounts and content generation costs. It was a question that came up several times after our presentation to the members of the AQT at last week’s Big Bang conference here in Montreal.
It’s certainly a question for many of our clients here in Québec, who find themselves servicing English and French clients, or who contend with transforming the content generated in the rest of Canada and North America into content for their regional French-speaking prospects. But it`s also a big issue in the United States, where English and Spanish content may be needed, in the European Union, Africa, Asia and elsewhere.
Sometimes the forces of globalization butt up against the forces of localization; we need to be sure we are putting out content that will help all of our prospective customers find out about what we can offer. We must seed the search with all the words that count.
There are a variety of ways small and medium-sized companies, or regional divisions can do that without breaking the bank:
Summarize and link: The least expensive way to give a nod to a second (or third and fourth) language is to blog, tweet or post a link to the original version with a brief translated summary or excerpt. This works well when the majority of your prospects are bilingual enough to read the original language as well. This technique serves as an effective (and often critical) gesture of recognition other language speakers, acknowledging their importance to your organization.
Translate original content: Depending on the context, it may be less expensive to hire a translator (or take advantage of ones multilingual employees in-house) than to hire someone to generate a completely distinct set of content. However simple translation can’t take into account significant cultural distinctions in a linguistically segregated audience. And you need to beware of the pitfalls of poor translation, since literally translated idioms often don’t work well in a second language. If you do go this route, it’s critical to make sure the translation is rock solid and plays well in its intended sphere.
Streamline: When translation costs appear prohibitive, consider allocating resources to either a bilingual or multilingual account (with posts in different languages) or post a smaller number of shorter items in the second language. Many companies here in Quebec maintain Twitter and Facebook accounts in both languages or use the unique bilingual argot we’ve come to call franglais. Clients (especially in bilingual Montreal) are accustomed to seeing both languages. Check out local Montreal gift shop Mortimer Snodgrass, the Québec Facebook page for Metro supermarkets and the Via Rail Facebook page to see how bilingual posts are combined, as well as the Montreal Fringe Festival Twitter account for a very different take on the same idea.