The Ultimate Guide to Social Media in Multiple Languages

The Ultimate Guide to Managing Dual language and Multilingual Social Media Accounts Introduction For many companies and brands maintaining multilingual social media accounts are a necessity.

Do you really need multilingual social media accounts?

Before embarking on multilingual social media it's worth looking at your existing fan base to see if your followers actually use multiple languages and if so how much emphasis should you be putting on any particular language in your social media activities.  Multilingual social media often requires extra resources and specialist staff and it's essential to understand whether making this investment will provide you with positive ROI for your business. 

Facebook Method 1

In the insights panel of your Facebook page navigate to the 'people' tab, scroll down and Facebook will show you the language preference of your Facebook fans. In the example below from one of our clients our fans are split between English (70%) and Arabic (30%).

multilingual social media facebook

Facebook Method 2

Whilst Facebook's language option is a helpful data point for understanding your fans language preference it should never been taken as the only marker for understanding your audience on Facebook. Bahrain for example is a multilingual country with many people speaking both English and Arabic fluently. Consequently in the example above many of the fans who list English as their language choice will also be comfortable in Arabic.

This is where it's extremely important to test your content in multiple languages rather than relying on Facebook's language data. This guide on split testing pages posts runs you though the steps to preform split testing on Facebook. Using this method you will get a better understanding of the language preference of your fans based on their engagement with your content rather than a language preference they may have set years ago.

It's worth taking the time to test your content before deciding on your overall strategy as it could drastically effect the performance of your campaigns. In the above example even though only 30% of the fans on this page list Arabic as their language of choice when we tested Arabic content it outperformed English both in terms of reach and engagement. When we discovered this and we switched the strategy to focus more on Arabic content all of our metrics jumped.

Twitter

For finding the language preference of your Twitter followers you'll need a 3rd party service like Fliplingo, which offers a free language analysis report of your Twitter followers. Go to Fliplingo, enter your details and wait for your report. It can take up to 24hrs but it's worth it. The results below show the languages preferences of the Gulf Broadcast twitter account.  

multi lingual social media

Whilst Facebook offers the most robust features in terms of language preference with Twitter you have to rely on geo-location data to get an understanding which languages your Twitter followers speak. [need to add in fliplingo here] You'll need a 3rd Twitter service to find the location of your customers. https://tweepsmap.com/ Creates a global map of your Twitter followers with % followers per county. http://www.socialbro.com/userguide/how-to-geolocate-your-competitors-community-on-twitter Suite of tools for Twitter power-users that gives you geo-location data http://www.demographicspro.com/hootsuite-app If you use Hootsuite as part of your social media workflow this app will give you detailed location data for your followers.

Instagram

Instagram is similar to Twitter and you will have rely on geo-location data to discover insights into the language your audience uses.

Iconosquare Snapshots http://iconosquare.com/snapshot.php Iconosquare is a web based Instagram analaytics and management platform. To find the location of your followers navigate to 'Snapshots' and find the #geoiconosquare snapshot for an overview of your followers locations.

https://totems.co/analytics/features/monitor-instagram-followers/ Professional analytics for Instagram that will show you locations of your followers (expensive but free trail is available)

Multilingual social media strategy

Once you measure which language preforms better Hashtags - How to successfully track multilingual social media posts.

Many of the single language best practices are relevant in multilingual

Time to post - Time Zone -​

Web Assets ​

Can you visual only experiences and games that don't require multiple languges - Facebook tabs with display multiple language content ​

Social Media Translation

One option is to translate your posts and there are many companies that will add translation into your social media workflow. Ultimately translation is rarely the best option, especially on social media, as you will limit creativity, increase repetition and more than likely loose the personal touch. 

Translation however, will generally be cheaper than creating a multilingual social media team that creates and distributes content targeted to a particular language and in certain contexts translation can work well - for example if a B2B company's social media is location agnostic and doesn't feature idioms or specific cultural references translation may be a solution. 


Social Media is Listening

If you translate your content do you have someone on your team who can reply to questions or monitor the conversation and engage? 

Before hiring a translation company it's worth asking them some questions to make sure they can meet your requirements: 

1. Do they employ people who are actually living the country or territory you are targeting?
2. Do they have case studies and domain knowledge for your industry. Getting the jargon right is important.
3. How can you ensure quality control? Do they employ editors? 
4. What kind of security do they offer? Though your social media activity you may giving away some information and strategies about your company that you'd rather be kept secret.
5. What does their workflow look like?  If you have time sensitive posts can you guarantee you will get your translations in time? If you already use social media management software how easily will their system integrate into yours? 

 

A word on Google Translate. The absolute cheapest strategy would be to use Google to quickly translate your posts into your desired language. This is rarely a good idea as almost any native speaker will know immediately that your post has been translated by a machine. As you will have potential customers reading your posts not taking the time to provide content written by a human will often lead people to question your products or services. Social media is a first impression of company and by failing to provide information that makes sense or is badly written you will inevitably be shooting yourself in foot. 

3 things to consider in multilingual campaigns 

Hashtags

Time Zones

Column 3

Multilingual Social Media Tactics 

As each social network functions differently how you set-up your campaigns will vary across the different platforms. Usually the biggest question is whether or not to have separate feeds for different languages. There is no one size fits all answer and it will depend on your available resources, the size of your audiences and the social networks you'll be focusing on. 

​Facebook

​Because of Facebook's post targeting options the majority of SME's probably don't require a separate Facebook business page. This is especially true if you operate in just 1 country that uses several different languages. For larger brands and companies working across international boarders, multiple Facebook pages may be the way to go. To target your Facebook posts to a particular demographic of your fan base:

1. At the bottom of your page post select the 'target' button

2. Select either 'language' or 'location' or both depending on the content our your post

3. Enter the languages and/or locations of your fans you'd like your post to appear for. 

Using this method allows you to restrict each Facebook post to a single language which has many benefits in terms creating content aimed particular languages, not giving people unnecessary content they don't understand and for tracking and monitoring (see below). 

For example, telecommunications company Zain Bahrain's English/Arabic Facebook page uses single language posts to provide relevant content to a particular subset of their fan base. 

multilingual social media zain

The alternative is to post multiple languages in your posts and then distribute them to your entire fan base. Whilst not as powerful as post targeting, multiple language posting can work when the majority of your fans are multilingual or if you are translating content rather creating original material.   

Bahrain's Authority for Culture & Antiquities Facebook page uses multi language posts to get their information out to a multilingual, Arabic and English speaking audience. The page is a good example of best practices for this type of Facebook post where each post doesn't exceed the character limit of the post preview and contains outbound links to language specific landing pages. 

One of the major drawbacks however is if your languages are right-to-left (RTL) and left-to-right (LTR)​ Facebook won't be able to display both of them in the correct orientation. 

multilingual social media bahrain

Instagram

Leverage Social Media management software 

​Managing workflow in a multilingual social media team is many magnitudes more complicated than in one language and taking advantage of social media management software is a no brainer for many teams.

Most social media applications will allow scheduling, permissions and tasks to be assigned to individuals in your team giving you the power to synchronise your efforts across multiple languages and accounts. Sprout Social for instance has teams fully integrated into their management system. 

You can read a multilingual case study using Hootsuite's platform here

Currently Hootsuite offers the most comprehensive support of multilingual teams. As well as team management, permissions and assignments. 

  1. Change the dashboard language.
    Hootsuite's dashboard can be used in most of the world's major languages.
  2. Advanced demographic Facebook Targeting.
    Take advantage of Facebook's post targeting features (see above) from within the Hootsuite dashboard. The platform also supports user geo-fencing meaning you can restrict the language and location of posts by individual team members by default!
  3. Asian social network integration. 
    Though Hootsuite's apps you can manage you social media profile on both Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. 

Tracking

A key part of all social media strategies is tracking the successes (and failures) of your content. Throw two or three languages in the mix and it can quickly seem overwhelming. In simple terms there are two areas that needs to be tracked 1. The native metrics inside of social media platforms (reach, engagement, shares etc) and 2. Links For social media metrics your strategy can depend on which metrics are valuable to you. - dangers of bitly General areas of consideration >> Visual Content Social widgets Website assets Facebook vs Instagram vs Twitter >>>> what are best practices for each? How to split test Facebook organic posts. Using 3rd party software to make life easier - hootsuite - sprout social. Advertising Focus on the problems of language for Facebook targeting. Seperate Posts in terms of content Does translation work? - It's not just about language but also about frame of reference - idioms. Traditional values? Comments/likes/engagment - Multiple image posts - two languages in the same post. Invest in making unique content that is individual to each langauge but still follows the broader brand message. What do your web assets look like? multiple language websites. Facebook tabs with multiple languages? Using 3rd party software to make life easier - hootsuite - sprout social. Facebook vs Instagram vs Twitter >>>> what are best practices for each? Visuals - speak to cultural norms. Arabic avoid abstract - use human elements. Cultural holidays - Ramadan. Tracking - bit.ly - UTM tracking Facebook global pages. Social widgets - link people to the correct account!

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