The Multilingualization of Social Media
Over the last few years, there has been a sudden increase in the number of languages being supported by major social networking sites. Great strides have been made by internet companies to provide a multilingual social product and this has been achieved through various methods such as Facebook and Twitter’s use of crowdsourcing. Facebook now supports 96 languages and Twitter recently introduced support for right-to-left languages increasing its total to 28. The availability of these websites in different languages has enhanced their global appeal and enabled them to sustain their growth. The objective of these internet giants is simple; make their social product available in as many languages as possible to achieve the largest possible user base globally.
Google+, a new entrant to the social networking arena, recently announced that it now supports 60 different languages making it the largest single rollout of languages on a social network. Google already has its Google Translate utility which allowed them to make rapid progress on the language front for their social network.
Changing Social Media Environment
What this indicates is that the internet is no longer a single language environment. The global growth in internet users has led the demand for polyglot websites, international in scale but local in detail. Internet companies are leading the way in providing multilingual content to web users, and many global businesses have started to engage with their customers in their native language. Yet, the amount of multilingual engagement conducted by businesses is still very low all the while user engagement in foreign languages has drastically increased over the last few years.
Companies that have a multilingual audience require a multilingual social media strategy. An effective strategy must ensure that all customer segments are catered for by the business with culturally and locally relevant content. The importance of social media is undeniable and has a profound impact on brand image, thus the requirement for multilingual engagement.
Developing a Multilingual Social Media Strategy
Connecting with foreign language audiences requires the use of a native language speaker living in the audience’s country or region. Web users are more receptive to content that is relevant to them and their culture. It is also a good strategy to create language or market specific pages in order to distinguish between different sets of people and provide them with localized content.
Social media is rapidly gaining a new dimension and the eventual distribution of web users on a language and locale basis is imminent. Understanding and planning for multilingual communities online will have long term benefits for a company.
Written by Talha Fazlani, a technical marketing professional who works for Language Connect, a language, localization and multilingual digital marketing agency. Follow Language Connect on Twitter @lconnect
Image Credit: KEXINO