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Translating Social Media Content: A Journey from Likes to Languages

image of a hand holding a smartphone showing social media apps

Social media has become a powerful tool for inbound marketing and businesses to connect with their target audience, build brand awareness, and drive engagement.

However, with diverse audiences spanning across different languages and cultures, the question arises: should content for social media platforms be translated? And if so, how can we ensure the translations resonate effectively with the intended audience?

Translating content for social media platforms is no different than any other content that requires a deep understanding of nuances, communication styles, and the ability to adapt content to resonate with diverse audiences. The goal is to create content that speaks not only the audience’s language but also speaks to their hearts and minds, driving meaningful connections and, ultimately, engagement and conversion.

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, new platforms constantly emerge. One platform that has recently taken the digital sphere by storm is Threads, Meta’s new social media platform. Within a mere 24 hours of its launch, Threads amassed a staggering 100 million users, showcasing the power and allure of the social media phenomenon.

As the popularity of social media platforms continues to soar, it becomes increasingly vital for businesses and content creators to consider their target audience’s language preferences. In a bilingual context such as Quebec and Canada, where English and French are widely spoken, the question of whether content for social media platforms should be translated becomes even more relevant.

“Canada has a population of nearly *35M people. French is the first official language spoken for 22.8% of the population. The majority of Francophones (85.4%) live in Quebec and over 1M live in other regions of the country.”

Source: Government of Canada “Some facts on the Canadian Francophonie” webpage last updated 2019-09-13. *April 1, 2023 estimation was more than 39M according to Statistics Canada released 2023-06-28.

So, as we delve into the world of bilingual social media content and translation, let’s uncover how to bridge language barriers on social media platforms and create content that resonates with your audiences. But first, here are some impressive statistics:

world social media statistics

For quick browsing:

Different Approaches to Translating Social Media Content

When it comes to translating posts, tweets, or threads, there are several approaches to consider.

Manual Translation

The traditional approach is to manually translate posts by hiring professional translators. They can accurately convey the intended message, tone, and nuances of the original content into the target language. This method ensures high-quality translations but may involve additional time and cost, especially for large volumes of content.

Machine Translation

Machine translation (MT) involves using automated translation tools or platforms that utilize algorithms to translate text. Popular MT include Google Translate or DeepL. It can provide quick translations, but it may not always capture the full context, idiomatic expressions, and cultural nuances or take industry-specific jargon into consideration accurately. It’s advisable to review and edit machine-translated content to ensure accuracy and clarity.

Hybrid Translation

A combination of manual and machine translation can be employed, known as Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE). This method is used as a starting point, and professional translators review and edit the machine-translated content to review and refine it. This approach can save time and cost less while still keeping a higher level of accuracy compared to relying solely on machine translation.

User-Generated Translations

Each social media platform has its own approach to translation to cater to its global user base. For example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok all have language settings to customize their interface language.

Facebook and Instagram offer manual translation features where users can translate posts, comments, and captions into different languages. Twitter relies on users and third-party translation services for tweet translations and offers an automated translation feature.

As for LinkedIn, it utilizes a mix of automated and user-generated translations for profiles, posts, and articles, allowing users to add their own translations. YouTube provides automated captions and subtitles for video translations, and creators have the option to add their own translations as well.

Finally, TikTok offers language settings for adjusting the interface language and incorporates automated and user-generated translations for captions and comments, facilitating manual translations with built-in tools.

HOWEVER, it’s important to be aware that relying solely on machine translation processes employed by these platforms can easily result in miscommunications. Users may not always grasp the nuances of translation and mistakenly assume that automatic translations are entirely accurate.

Imagine investing time and effort into crafting carefully written content, only to have its meaning misconstrued by a user who generates their translation based on an automated tool. Let’s take a closer look at why translating your social media posts is beneficial.

The Benefits of Translating Social Media Content

Audience Reach

Translating posts allows you to engage with a broader audience, including those who may not be proficient in the post's original language. By providing translations, you can connect with diverse communities and increase the chances of your content resonating with more people.

Cultural Relevance

Translating posts enables you to adapt your content to different cultural contexts. It shows that you respect and value the cultural diversity of your audience. This approach helps ensure your messaging remains relevant, relatable, and avoids potential misunderstandings.

Business Expansion

If you have plans to expand your business, translating posts becomes crucial. It allows you to establish a presence in different markets, connect with local audiences, and build relationships with potential customers or clients in their native language.

Higher Engagement Rate

Translated posts can drive higher engagement and interaction from your audience. When people can understand and relate to your content in their preferred language, they are more likely to engage, comment, share, and take action, increasing brand awareness and visibility.

Improved SEO

Translated posts can help improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. By translating your content into different languages, you can target specific keywords and phrases relevant to each language, increasing your visibility in search results and attracting more organic traffic.

While translating posts can be beneficial, it’s important to consider the resources, time, and quality of translations. It’s recommended to work with professional translators who can accurately convey the message and tone of your content in the target language. Additionally, consider the preferences and needs of your target audience to determine which posts should be translated and prioritize accordingly.

How to Translate Social Media Content

When choosing a translation method, consider factors such as the volume of content, the desired level of accuracy, the budget, and the importance of cultural nuances. Translated posts should effectively convey the intended message and maintain your brand voice.

Whether to include translations in the same post or create separate posts depends on various factors, including your target audience, platform capabilities, and the nature of the content. Here are a few considerations to help you decide:

Length of the text

If the translation significantly increases the length of the post, it may be better to create a separate post. Long posts can be overwhelming for users and may result in reduced engagement. Consider whether the translated content can fit comfortably within the character or word limit of the original post. If, on the other hand, your message is short and concise, then you can insert a line below your original message and add your own translated content in the same post.

For more in-depth insights on post lengths, read our article “Social Media Posts: The Ideal Lengths Across All Platforms”.

Target Audience Preferences

Consider the preferences of your target audience when deciding on your translation approach. While some users may find it convenient to see translations within the same post for quick access, others may prefer separate posts that allow them to engage with content in their preferred language without distractions from other languages.

In Quebec, where francophones make up over 80% of the population, the expectation is for posts to be in French. So, if you are conducting business in Quebec or aiming to cater to Quebecers, it's evident that posting in both English and French is not only beneficial but also necessary to effectively connect with your audience.

Content Type and Context

The type of shared content may influence your decision to translate or not. For short and concise updates or announcements, including translations within the same post may work best. However, separate posts might be more appropriate to maintain readability and clarity for more extensive or detailed content, such as articles or in-depth explanations.

If you are posting a visual with text, also consider posting a second one with the translated text, and you can include the second visual in the same post, basically uploading two images within the same post.

Have you been following our social media posts on Facebook or LinkedIn? We’re proud to offer bilingual language services, and our posting strategy reflects our commitment to serving both English and French-speaking audiences. For some publications, we post twice, once in English and once in French. However, we also take an alternating approach, where our content targeting anglophones is exclusively posted in English, and our content targeting francophones is exclusively posted in French. Call it yet another hybrid approach to posting translated content on social media.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on a combination of the factors mentioned earlier and what best serves the needs and preferences of your target audience. Test different approaches, monitor engagement, and gather feedback to refine your strategy and ensure that translations effectively reach and resonate with your audience.

Challenges and Considerations in Translating Social Media Content

Short and concise messages

Translating social media content poses unique challenges, mainly due to the limited space available for conveying a message effectively. Short and concise posts require careful consideration to ensure the translated version maintains the intended meaning, tone, and impact. Translators must balance accurately conveying the message and adapting it to fit within the character limitations of each platform.

Cultural Adaptation and Localization to Ensure Relevance

Localization and cultural adaptation play a vital role in translating social media content. Each target audience has its own cultural references, idioms, and nuances that resonate with them. By tailoring the translated content to the specific cultural context, companies can enhance its relevance and connection with their audience. Cultural sensitivity and understanding are essential to avoid unintentional misinterpretations.

Maintaining the Brand Voice While Translating

Maintaining the brand voice throughout the translation process can be challenging yet crucial for consistency and brand identity. Translators must carefully capture the original content’s essence and tone while considering the target language’s cultural and linguistic nuances.

Striking a balance between staying true to the brand’s voice and adapting it to suit the target audience’s preferences requires linguistic expertise, cultural awareness, and a deep understanding of the brand’s values and identity.

Conclusion: Building Connections With Bilingualism

Translating social media content presents unique challenges that require careful consideration and strategy to convey the intended message within each social media platform’s limitations and best practices. By navigating the challenges and employing effective translation techniques, businesses can successfully engage diverse audiences, foster meaningful connections, and drive engagement and conversion on social media.

Ready to take your social media strategy to the next level? Besides translators, we’re content writers and creators and we can help you devise a social media content marketing strategy for your business in English or French or both!

Contact us today to learn how our bilingual language services can help you effectively adopt a bilingual social media content strategy, connecting with English and French-speaking audiences and expanding your reach in our bilingual communities.

Engage, connect, and grow with translated social media content that speaks directly to your audience!



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