3.48 billion people around the world are now using social media. That is close to half of the overall global population. It’s safe to say that as far as marketing is concerned, social media is the top dog. Furthermore, growth in this area shows no signs of stopping.

While it would be impossible in this article to analyze social media engagement in every country, the headline figures speak for themselves. In Asia, where social dominates, it is the primary purchasing channel for consumers. 70% of all purchases in China are now made directly from social media. And the demand for professional translation services has increased now that Facebook’s Marketplace is used by 800 million people in 70 different countries.

In the US, all social media platforms have seen a steady growth of both new users and ad revenue. 48 percent of users say they have engaged with brands on social media. Instagram shows the most promise, with an average value per order of $65.

What Does Social Media Have to Do with Translation?

Savvy marketers are getting on board with social media at unprecedented rates. In 2018 alone, advertising budgets for social increased by over 30%. Every major brand has accounts across multiple platforms.

In addition to having a social media presence across the most popular channels, the most successful global brands have something else in common: multilingual social media sites. They have replicated their message in multiple languages to cover a broader consumer base than ever before.

If you want to get ahead of your competitors, this type of global thinking at the outset will put you ahead of the game when it comes to your competition. If you are going to go through the time and effort to position your brand on Twitter, for example, a multilingual marketing strategy makes sense from a financial standpoint. It often costs less, in the long run, to implement an entire localization plan for multiple countries at once and allows you to build brand awareness to millions of consumers who were not available to you before.

Professional Translation in Social Media

One of the hottest trends for 2019 is translation of social media sites. Marketers have seen how much revenue has increased by translating their websites into multiple languages, so it only makes sense that the fastest-growing marketing sector should follow suit.

However, there is more involved in translating social media copy than just running the tweets or posts through a translation app. This is actually the worst thing you could do. In fact, from a marketing standpoint, the likelihood of this hurting your brand’s reputation is much higher than if you did no translation at all. Let’s look at why.

Social Media and Consumer Trust

Despite the phenomenal growth of every social media platform in the world, consumer trust is still lacking. The Cambridge Analytica scandal eroded confidence and consumer engagement with brands. This means that companies now have to work harder to earn that trust back. In some ways, this is good as it has helped foster better communication between brands and their social media followers. True, you have to exert more effort to build brand loyalty, but once it is there, consumers are more likely to purchase and remain loyal.

But here’s the kicker; this engagement needs to be highly personalized. Generic messages won’t suffice. Your brand needs to foster the confidence and trust that relationship marketing is built on – and that can’t be done using machine translation.

Why Not Machine Translation?

Machine translation is not the best way to translate between two languages. While the technology has improved tremendously over the past several years, it has not gotten to a point where it can translate language accurately enough to incorporate the use of idioms or cultural references, or even to get grammar spot on. And that is precisely what is needed to personalize your marketing messages.

In some regions, for example, the use of certain symbols, expressions or colors can denote bad luck or be insulting. A machine can’t help with this; without a human being who can help you carefully plan your campaign, you risk alienating your new audience and potentially wasting resources. And it can take a while to bounce back from gaffes like this.

The only way to truly connect with your audience is to have a localization expert helping you with your translation tasks. This type of language services professional is a native speaker of the language you are translating into, preferably someone who lives or has lived in your target country and has intimate knowledge of the culture, customs, and purchasing habits of its residents.

Genuine Brand Loyalty Through Accurate Translation

The human touch that you can achieve by incorporating a localization professional into your social media marketing strategy is invaluable. If your potential audience perceives they are not being heard or understood, they will bounce to another site, and that will be lost revenue for you. Further, trying to regain their loyalty after a botched attempt at communication will be that much more difficult.

Talking to your potential customers in a way they can relate to and understand, with images and local language that are familiar to them, shows them that you have put some effort into trying to gain their trust and their business. It shows a level of respect and attention to detail that your competitors may overlook. This is something that can give you a distinct competitive edge and help with audience retention over time.

Relying on translation apps to do this work for you is tantamount to social media suicide. At best, your message will turn customers off with its robotic and contrived translation. At worst, it could ruin your reputation as a company among a large segment of potential buyers by alienating them with gibberish. Consumers in any language are smart enough to know when they are being advertised to. Most won’t mind if the delivery is personalized and relevant. However, they will likely care a lot if their intelligence is insulted.

Ultimately, consumers like to do business with brands they can feel good about. Communication is the number one priority you need to focus your marketing efforts on when it comes to global marketing in general and when it comes to social media, it is vital. Communication is what social media is all about. The right message, delivered at the right time, using the right choice of words – no matter which language they are in – is priceless.