We are all obsessed with the number of fans and followers, likes and subscribers. Too often, however, we focus only on people who speak our own language. The fact is that the greatest growth potential for social media channels lies beyond our mother tongue and our national comfort zones. But how best to reach and influence those who live in other countries and speak other languages? We’ll consider your options for combining localization best practices with crowdfireapp to go global, suggesting the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reach out and engage beyond the tip of your tongue.
Value of localization and translation services for boosting reach and engagement
It’s funny: we fancy ourselves worldly people, but few of us venture beyond our own language. If we are English speakers, we are relatively lucky. Because much of the world has been forced to speak our language, but they don’t really love doing so. Between 1.5 billion and 2 people speak English but only for 350 million – just 20% — is it their mother tongue. Given a choice, they would likely prefer to speak, read, and listen in another language. If you can reach them, and others, in their native tongue, you can vastly expand your social media reach and, potentially, your revenues. You do this by translating and localizing your content. What are translation and localization services? The translation you surely know, but localization is a newer term.
Language translation is a subset of localization. The key benefits of translation services are extending marketing reach by accessing new markets and deepening engagement by speaking to customers and other audiences in their native tongue and familiar terms. Localizing includes not just converting spoken words to a target language. It also includes adapting number and date formats, currencies and measurement units. It requires knowledge of cultural preferences, likes, and dislikes. Localization needs to be done for any marketing or technical material but it’s especially important when developing, maintaining, and marketing software, websites, and social media.
Localization can apply to different locations using variants of the same language. There are subtle but significant differences between US and Canadian English, and even bigger differences with British, South African, Australian and New Zealand English. If you want to really make readers feel like you know them, then speak to them in their vernacular. People who have lived in two or more of these countries can do this naturally, but those who haven’t will need help.
Even more, help is needed when you are crossing linguistic borders. Then you can’t “fake it till you make it.” Unless you’re truly bilingual, you will need professional help.
Happily, localizing content and social media is much less expensive than creating new material. So let’s look at ways to get the “most bang for your buck.”
Working with website localization services and localization agencies
The vast number of websites and the perceived need of many of them to “go global” means that there is a strong and growing demand to create localized sites and social media campaigns. Globalization can be understood as creating local media assets that adapt to the language of visitors, using cookies, geolocation, or user selection. You can choose to work with a professional translation agency or a localization agency. If you’re dealing with multiple languages and have a complex website, make sure your website translation services leverage specialized software to organize the local data.
These resources help you build multilingual websites and multilingual social media platforms for your business and brand. The most visited sites are multilingual and globalized. Bear in mind that the Crowdfire app can help you localize out of the box. Geolocation enables localized media campaigns. Send out push notifications to a specific target area, encourage check-ins, tailor your advertising with a local angle. That’s how to do social media marketing, optimized by geolocation. But what happens when you cross borders into a different language?
If you aim for a bilingual website, and you or your staff speak both languages fluently, you might “go it alone” without seeking outside help. If not, your choices will be dictated by the scope of work and your budget. A robust localization project can involve ten or more languages, be supported on websites, apps, and social media. You don’t need to do all at once for social media or web translation, but you or your social media manager first should ensure that your digital assets are ready to be localized.
Advantages of using a professional localization company or translation agency
What service do you need? You need localization professionals to create localized products, which are typically websites, social media, or apps. A localization specialist can help you pick which language to begin within your social media marketing. Your localization company should assign a localization expert for each market. Just search for localization agencies and mention the languages you aim to support. After obtaining basic information from you, they will provide a free quotation and timetable. Understand their proposed localization strategy and localization methods. Compare 3 to 5 agencies and their offerings. Note: some translation companies include localization, others don’t.
The important advantage of working with a localization company is that it’s a one-stop-shop. They can expand your website and social media to support many languages and manage that process for you. Usually, you will be assigned one or two account managers as liaisons to the translation and localization teams. Typically, a project will start with one or two additional languages and build from there. A good agency will advise you which languages or localities to tackle and in which order.
Localization Services and the Freelance Translation Option: Pros and Cons
The main disadvantage of working with a professional localization agency or translation company is cost. You can save money by working with freelancers. What they charge depends on where they are and which languages you need to translate. But as a rule of thumb, expect to pay one-half to one-third as much by working with a freelancer.
The pros of working with a freelancer, besides lower cost, are direct access. You choose your translator directly, usually through a freelance marketplace like Upwork, Freelancer.com or Fiverr. Inspect their profiles, ratings, reviews, and rates. Clarify and negotiate. You can interact with each translation, something you can’t do with an agency. Control freaks can micromanage localization projects.
The big disadvantage is the personal time such management requires. Is this how your time is best spent? You also are hostage to the events in your freelancer’s life. What if he gets the flu? What if she needs to take a trip? What if they get busy with another client? Tip: hire two freelancers per language, one to check the work of the other, and to fill in if the other goes off the beam.
Machine Translation and Best Practices for Going Global with Social Media
Last but not least, machine translation services like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator are available. Resist the temptation to use these free services to translate your websites or social media. The risk of an embarrassing mistake is too high. But they save time and money for internal correspondence and research, and for checking the work of translators. Be on the lookout for translators who cut corners by using machine translation. You should explicitly prohibit this in your contracts.
In sum, use all resources out there, both within Crowdfire and with free online services to save money, but don’t skimp when it comes to translating high profile articles and pages. If you can afford an agency, hire a freelancer to audit the agency’s work. And as noted, two freelance translators are better than one. These smart steps will keep quality high and costs down as you go global, without getting lost in translation.
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