Making Sure Brand Messages Aren’t Lost in Translation


Making Sure Brand Messages Aren’t Lost in Translation

By Elizabeth Elting – March 30, 2011

ADOTAS – Internet World Stats show that 86% of Web users live outside the United States. Many of them speak languages other than English, and capturing their business depends upon quality website translation, localization and international search engine optimization (ISEO). Increasingly, that business opportunity also hinges on extending multilingual campaigns to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

There are several core tenets of ISEO that companies must follow to build compelling websites around the world. Many of these apply to social media, as well. To break into promising regions in the Americas, Europe and Asia, enterprises are applying these principles to all of their electronic communication points with customers.

Principle #1: Every word counts.

This is certainly true on a website, but the importance of word choice is magnified as businesses condense the content of their communication. Twitter’s strict length parameters, for example make every word choice a critical one. Translating for this kind of platform requires not only timesaving software solutions, but seasoned human translators, as well.

Multi-language tweets can be a valuable tool in numerous communities around the world, but 140 characters in English do not neatly translate into 140 characters in Spanish, for example. A proven translation solution is a must for any company eager to take advantage of the direct customer communication possible on social media platforms.

Principle #2: ISEO must evolve alongside international social media strategies.

International search marketing requires meaningful and fresh content that is keyword-specific. It demands descriptive tagging, rich media, social media distribution, and internal and external links. There is little value in going live with a website that is not optimized with these needs in mind. Only when international SEO and design are done in conjunction can a business be certain that customers will find it online.

For example, a young person in one part of the world may search for shoes using a slang term, such as, “tennis shoes,” “sneakers,” or “kicks,” not the literal translation of the English words. Furthermore, there are different search engines in different part of the world, such as the dominant Chinese search engine, Baidu, that will use an algorithm vastly different from Google’s to serve up results.

This is one reason why enterprises must adopt an integrated approach to ISEO that determines the right wording and creates consistent, relevant messages in ads, landing pages, social media posts and search engine marketing.

Principle #3: Prospects want choice in all matters, including language.

Any business pursuing customers online must consider the linguistic reality of the marketplace, even domestically. The latest American census results contained some important data for marketers.

The fastest growing segments in the U.S. are minorities, including Spanish-speaking residents. There is a largely untapped domestic market that is waiting for e-businesses to meet its needs with greater choice in multi-language content.

At home and abroad, businesses should extend choice in language preference. Depending on the country, any given website visitor might prefer French over English or Arabic over Spanish or any number of other possibilities. Don’t guess which language might be best. Instead, offer a language menu to reduce visitor frustration and increase the site’s effectiveness.

Making the most of social media around the world

The Web and evolving social media platforms make it easier than ever to reach customers in virtually any market. However, that easy access should not lull businesses into cutting corners as they localize their brand messages. Automated translation might be a quick, inexpensive way to launch global efforts, but for measurable return on investment and successful customer relationship building, follow the principles of smart ISEO.

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