Translate social campaigns for multicultural markets

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The question of whether or not to spend money on multicultural marketing budgets no longer holds much weight. Companies in nearly every industry recognize the purchasing power of the burgeoning Hispanic community in the US, and many are scrambling to localize their marketing platforms to attract Spanish-speaking prospects. Despite their willingness to devote resources to multicultural marketing, enterprises are struggling to effectively tailor their brand messages effectively. As these firms employ the Web and social media platforms to reach Latino customers, they should keep in mind several tenets of international search engine optimization that are as effective at home as they are abroad.

1) Say it in 140 characters or fewer. Effective translation is difficult enough. Effective translation on an influential social networking site like Twitter is even more challenging. When you have to be succinct, precision counts more than it does in a longer form venue. Translating for social media requires time-saving software solutions coupled with human translators who understand the possibilities and limitations of the medium.

2) Robots don't excel at authenticity. Facebook and other social media platforms make it easy for consumers to share the worst kind of translation mistakes. For example, translating an English pen slogan, “It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you” into Spanish could appear as, “It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.” Such an error can mark a company as half-hearted in its multicultural marketing efforts. One way to avoid such mistakes is to steer clear of machine translation. Multilingual brand messaging can be tricky and should be properly vetted by experts – human ones.

3) Keep international SEO in mind from the start. There is little value in going live with a website or social media campaign that is not optimized with fresh, keyword-specific content. Descriptive tagging, rich media, social media distribution, and internal and external links should be constructed simultaneously with the overall campaign to create consistent, relevant messages in ads, landing pages, tweets, Facebook postings and search engine marketing.

4) Deliver choice. Just as companies should not presume to serve Canadian customers English over French copy, businesses should not select language preferences for US visitors. The realities of the marketplace are too complex for enterprises to presume preferred language. Instead, offer a language menu to increase reach into target markets.

Liz Elting is the CEO and cofounder of TransPerfect, which offers a range of language and business services.

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