If you’re just starting to take your business globally, it’s important to understand that translating your social media campaigns isn’t the only language service that you need. To be able to truly address and engage your audience in each market with a successful social media ad campaign, you need to localize your social media content.
What Is Localization?
Localization is the process of adapting and adjusting content to fit into the culture of each global audience and helps them relate it to their own experiences. So it’s not just translation and language fluency that is important but also having a deep cultural understanding of the target audiences. Your audience wants to see content that’s meaningful for them and focuses on their needs, which includes being sensitive and inclusive to their culture while still promoting the essence of your global brand’s service or product.
Your audience will be the most impacted by content that they can really relate to and touches on their own experience. Your audience can be entertained or emotional if they feel like they’re having a unique cultural experience that they can relate to. If the content isn’t relatable, it’s much more likely that your target audience will bypass the social media post. Perhaps your audience will even negatively view your brand, since you’re not providing them something that they can relate to even if the content is in their own language.
This is the difference between translations and localization, and why localization matters so much. Localization can ensure that your intended message is communicated in just the right way for your target audience. Sometimes it means making light adjustments and adapting small things, and other times it requires more in-depth changes.
Some of the Items to Evaluate During Localization
As you can see, localization goes beyond mere language fluency and translation. We’ll describe just some of the many factors to consider during the localization process.
Cultural references include rivaling sports teams, celebrities, historical events, or cultural or religious holidays. During the localization process, your language service provider will look at these cultural references to ensure that the target audience is familiar with these references and are as specific as possible. This means you need to have a deep cultural and historical understanding of your audience. Most likely, you’ll need to consider hiring assistance that will provide you with the necessary cultural experts.
Another element to consider while shifting your business to a new market is cultural values. If your audience feels a lack of understanding or respect of their history or values, the chances of your business succeeding will diminish. For example, a restaurant chain is quite unlikely to succeed if they promote a ham sandwich as their main dish in a Muslim majority country where pork is taboo. Also, consider that your audience may interpret or view historical events. Another cultural norm to think about is the different modesty levels in each location and how that can affect the kind of content you generate.
In addition, you should make sure that you represent the culture you’re trying to attract. Don’t just represent your culture in photos. Make sure members of that culture, whether they have special headdresses or are predominantly from the same race, are represented in your images, especially the ones about their holidays or historic events, or any other content you might create that is culture-specific.
Slang and Idiomatic Speech
Consider your audience’s slang and idiomatic speech. There’s no doubt that decorating your content with regionalisms and sayings or phrases particular to a place will add personality and make your content more engaging. However, they might not work for your target audience. It might sound challenging, so if you don’t have the resources to do this work, consider hiring a language service provider with this type of experience.
The idea is to find these phrases and adjust them to fit your content. First, look at your content for phrases that are already regionally specific and might not have the same intended effect on other audiences. Second, determine what your intended message is. What is it that you want to be the takeaway message from each piece of content? Will your audience understand it? Third, look for words or phrases from your target audience’s culture that can substitute them. Or, alternately, omit the phrase entirely and restructure the post so that it’s globally understood.
Another important item to take note of is units of measurements. For example, the UK uses the metric system, but the US uses the Imperial measurement system. Although both countries speak the same language and so no translation is required, localization remains an important factor as both countries have different cultures and want to see content the way they’re used to. For example, a recipe video posted in the US that uses the Imperial measurement system doesn’t have the same appeal in the UK and vice versa. If you want to appeal to a UK audience, you’ll need to make adjustments. Differences in measurement units are another reason why it’s important to localize content to reach your audiences.
No two audiences are the same. Even if your social media and business goals are the same in every region, your strategy to meet those goals needs to adapt to each region. Promoting your global brand through social media marketing can be a great way to expand your business, but to unlock this benefit, localizing your social media campaigns is key.