Social media localization: How to build a multilingual presence

social media localization

The world is a giant online community now, but the billions of users that hop on social media platforms each day are still chatting in different languages, celebrating different holidays, leading different lifestyles, and so on. This is why you need to tailor content that resonates. Luckily, you can do that with social media localization, and we’re here to tell you about the best practices when localizing this type of content.

Elements of social media to adapt

Social media is a multifaceted platform, and to truly resonate with a global audience, you can localize many elements:

  • Text
  • Visuals
  • Humor
  • Hashtags
  • Currencies
  • Live events
  • Calls to action
  • Community management
  • Contest and giveaways
  • Influencer marketing

As you can see, social media localization goes beyond just translating text or adapting images and videos. Localization can also mean responding to comments and messages in the local language, tailoring contests and giveaways to local interests, and displaying prices and other monetary values in the local currency. By localizing multiple elements, you demonstrate cultural sensitivity and a genuine interest in connecting with your target audience.

The importance of social media localization

As the world gets more wired, social media is exploding in popularity, reaching a wider audience than ever before. These online hubs, overflowing with information, have become an undeniable part of our daily lives, fundamentally reshaping how we connect across the globe. What began as a playground for younger generations has evolved into a universal platform for people of all ages, who use it for everything from business deals to casual chats.

Statista reports that social media has become a dominant force in the online world, boasting billions of users worldwide. This trend is far from slowing down, with projections indicating nearly a 6 billion user base by 2027. On average, people are glued to their social media and messaging apps for over 150 minutes each day, a significant increase compared to just a few years ago. Interestingly, Latin America leads the pack when it comes to the average daily consumption of social media.

Given all this, why is it so important to localize your social media efforts? First off, you’d be speaking the language(s) of your customers. Sure, basic translation is a start, but it’s just the first step. Understanding cultural nuances goes beyond words. Think about local slang, regional references, and even humor. A clumsy translation of a joke can fall flat, while a localized pun can turn you into a social media hero.

Social media localization also shows that you’ve done your homework! By referencing trending local topics, upcoming events, or even popular memes, you demonstrate you understand your audience’s interests, which creates a sense of shared experience that builds trust. Imagine a brand celebrating a local holiday with a creative post – it instantly positions you as a brand “in the know.”

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You’ve already seen that billions of potential customers use social media in their native languages. Localization allows you to bypass language barriers and connect with these untapped markets directly. This opens doors to entirely new demographics and customer segments.

Social media localization best practices

Now that we know some of the benefits of localization, let’s get the action started. Here are a few essential tips for effectively localizing content for social media:

Choose the right strategy

When taking your social media strategy global, one of the very first decisions arise is: manage one account for all languages or create separate accounts for each target language? Maintaining a single account simplifies content creation and scheduling, and requires less manpower and financial resources compared to managing multiple accounts. Plus, a larger, combined follower base can boost your overall social proof and credibility.

Multiple accounts, on the other hand, allow you to tailor content to the specific interests, humor, and cultural references of each language group. You can fully adapt your content to local trends, events, and holidays, demonstrating a deeper understanding of each market. Furthermore, these accounts can be optimized for local search terms in each language, improving your discoverability in local searches.

Localize, don’t just translate

Basic translation is a must, but it’s not enough. Localization means much more than a simple translation. Dig deeper and understand cultural nuances, humor, and references. A literal translation of an idiom might leave your audience confused. Instead, find an equivalent expression that conveys the same meaning within the target culture.

Remember The American Dairy Association’s iconic “Got Milk?” campaign? Confident in its success, the Dairy Association decided to translate the campaign for the Mexican market. Unfortunately, the Spanish translation of “Got Milk?” resulted in “¿Tienes leche?” which Spanish speakers perceive as “Are you lactating?” Luckily, they didn’t go for this tag line.

Speak the lingo

Formal language might be appropriate for business posts, but slang can be a great way to connect on a more casual level. However, careful with slang, as you don’t want to make the same mistake as Honda. The car manufacturer planned to introduce their popular subcompact car, the “Fitta,” to the European market. So, what could go wrong?

The name was chosen for its association with being “small on the outside, but big on the inside.” The thing is, in Swedish slang, “fitta” translates to a very vulgar term for female genitalia. Imagine the marketing materials proudly proclaiming the arrival of the all-new “Fitta,” boasting about its spacious interior. Luckily, Honda renamed the car for the European market, settling on “Jazz” instead.

Tailor to local interests

What resonates in one region might miss the mark in another. Research trending topics, upcoming events, and local news to create content relevant to your target audience. Let’s say you’re a travel company. A post promoting summer getaways in the US might not be as effective in December for audiences in Australia, where it’s summertime.

Use the right visuals

Images and videos are a universal language, but even with these, you should consider local preferences. A photo that works in one culture might be offensive in another. For example, avoid using imagery with religious symbols or gestures that could be misinterpreted in certain regions. Use visuals that resonate with your target audience. Think about including models or scenes that reflect the local population for a more authentic feel.

Celebrate local events

Show you’re engaged with the community by acknowledging and celebrating local holidays and festivals. including local holidays and events in your social media strategy demonstrates cultural sensitivity and positions your brand as one that cares about the local market. Celebrations are a natural conversation starter, so you could share photos, videos, and live updates from the event to spark engagement with your audience.

Utilize localized hashtags

Research popular hashtags in your target region to increase discoverability. Hashtags are a great way for users to find content related to their interests. By using localized hashtags, you ensure your content appears in relevant searches within your target market.

Partner with local experts and influencers

Consider collaborating with native speakers or cultural consultants to ensure your content is authentic and avoids unintentional faux pas. These experts can help you navigate cultural sensitivities and ensure your message resonates with the target audience. They can also advise on appropriate humor and slang to use in your content.

Local influencers can also help boost your brand awareness. People are more likely to trust recommendations from someone they recognize and respect within their own community. These influencers understand the local lifestyle, interests, and challenges. They can create content that resonates deeply with your target audience because it reflects their everyday experiences. And compared to big-name influencers, local influencers offer a more budget-friendly option.

Measure and adapt

The figures don’t lie. You need to monitor key metrics like engagement (likes, comments, shares) and reach for each localized campaign. This data helps you understand what resonates and where adjustments might be needed. Analyze which types of content generate the most engagement so that you can tailor your future strategies accordingly.

Keep in mind that social media is a dynamic landscape so you may have to adapt your approach based on audience response and evolving trends. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. Social media analytics can help you identify what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to constantly refine your approach.

Closing thoughts

You’ve just taken the first plunge into the vibrant world of social media localization. Now that you’ve learned the power of cultural references, the importance of speaking the local lingo, and the magic of collaborating with local influencers, all you need to do is go forth and conquer the social media world.

POEditor simplifies the translation process for your social media content. Upload your text strings (posts, captions, bios) and choose a human translation service or invite your own qualified translators who understand the target language and cultural nuances. Alternatively, translate strings automatically and refine with human translators.

You can build a glossary of key terms to ensure consistency for commonly used brand terminology and marketing jargon across all languages. We support language variants and regional dialects, so you can tailor your content for specific audiences within a broader language group, to ensure that your message resonates on a deeper level.

Our flexible pricing plans are made to suit every need, making POEditor a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes venturing into localization.

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