Global vs. local: How to solve multilingualism on social media?

Operating a brand across the globe carries with it some fairly obvious operational challenges in terms of language and culture. Keeping several audiences engaged at the same time is important for maintaining business in multiple markets, and a key element in any marketing strategy these days is social media. We’ve taken a look at the most popular platforms from this aspect to hopefully shed some light on how you could better manage your multi-lingual campaigns.

So, what language options do LinkedIn, Facebook & Co. offer for international companies? Do you want to manage a separate profile page for each language region? And when is it better to rely on a global presence?

Companies with a presence in different markets must also be multilingual on social media. And have two options. Either they create their own company page for each market and maintain the content in the respective language. Or they opt for a global presence where the locations fade into the background. We show what this decision depends on and what language options the largest social platforms offer.

Linkedin

On the largest B2B platform, there is a practical targeting function for company pages: Each organic article can be posted specifically according to language, geographical region and other target group characteristics. In this way, your own followers can even be filtered by area of activity, industry or career level. The prerequisite for this: at least 300 followers must be available per filter criterion.

In the Campaign Manager, you can also plan paid posts by language region, even targeting certain companies or deliberately excluding competition. The company description of the profile can be entered in more than 20 languages. For example, if a user is in France, posts and profile descriptions are displayed to them in that language. If its language is not covered, LinkedIn serves the defined default language – mostly English for international companies. Once you have reached a certain number of fans, you can easily appear globally on LinkedIn with a single page and at the same time place locally relevant posts. Individual pages are only worthwhile if the audience is still too small to filter and you still want to post multilingual.

Facebook

Facebook also provides options to run multilingually from one page. The fastest option is to post multilingual posts: once activated in the settings, you can manually translate the text into other languages. The followers will then receive the post in the language relevant to them. Likes and comments are bundled in a post because they are the same content.

However, the solution is not suitable for all content. This is where option two comes into play: Activate “News Feed Audiences” in the settings. This allows you to post posts, as with paid campaigns, limited by location of your followers. The language can be chosen as a further criterion, but it is not restrictive. The posts are more likely to be displayed to your followers in the correct language in the feed, but they are still visible in all languages on the company page. This solution is therefore especially handy if you have a broad target group and want to be seen to be posting in other languages from time to time.

If you want independent posts exclusively for a specific language audience, you need to create different local company pages. After all, organic posts in the post options can be timed – handy if you manage profiles in different time zones. Really large accounts also have the option of a global page – i.e. a main page with several market pages. The advantage: only one URL and a uniform brand image with central management, while on the subpages you can post individually. However, it is also the most time-consuming of all possibilities. Facebook does not disclose exactly how much budget and reach must be for this. Whether you are one of the chosen ones can be found out in the business settings.

Youtube

To make video content available in a multilingual way, subtitles are the best solution. On YouTube you can manually upload subtitle files in different languages and play them as open or closed captions. The increasingly popular streaming services Vimeo and Twitch also offer this possibility. If the video does not feature any dialogue, off-comments or motion design (typography in the opening credits) are other options. The same applies, of course, to video content on the other social channels. Attention: Social media is often consumed silently. Therefore, when embedding videos on Facebook and Co., make sure that the subtitles are activated by default.

Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter

On these platforms, your search for language and audience functions for organic posts are regrettably in vain. Many companies therefore solve the situation with accounts by language region.   Fortunately, it is different for paid campaigns: these platforms also offer extensive targeting. On Twitter, it is also possible to schedule organic posts.

Whether you rely on individual, local sites or a global presence on social media depends in particular on your goals, company size and resources. Not every company has the budget or capacity to manage single pages with different content on multiple platforms and manage the community accordingly or want to focus an equal amount of effort on each location. Once these strategic issues have been resolved, most platforms provide acceptable options.

Either way, the more markets you attempt to conquer, the more important a clear concept for a multilingual appearance. And here, of course, cultural knowledge also plays a role: do your posts strike the right tone and observe the rules, taboos and boundaries of the country or region? Is you website designed to cater to multi-lingual audiences? And, do you also succeed in a mixture of global and local issues?

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