Global audiences, social media and content localization

Content localization is a relatively new realm that is rapidly gaining momentum. Its existence is necessary in the modern-day world of marketing if a business wants to reach wider audiences.

Content localization has also spread to the sphere of social media marketing. Social media platforms engage billions of people. According to Statista, Facebook alone has over two billion users, and of course there are other popular social media platforms that support huge audiences, which marketers can easily reach.

Localizing content your business posts on social media can have numerous benefits in terms of reaching global audiences. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at what content localization is and why it’s not just a simple translation.

What is content localization?

Content localization has a lot to do with cultural translation. It differs greatly from a simple source text to target text translation. It is meant to answer the needs and interests of the target audience. The goal of content localization is to represent the text in the target language the way that makes the target audience believe that it was written in their native language.

A qualified professional in content localization should have:

  • excellent writing skills in order to convey the core message and transmit it to the target language;
  • good understanding and knowledge of both the source and target culture;
  • a good grasp of the technical aspects of content localization.

The skills of a professional in content localization include but are not limited to these three skills. Content localization is a complex process that requires high expertise and profound experience.

Why do you need content localization?

The answer is simple: you don’t want your brand to go down in flames on the international market.

When Coca-Cola first entered the Chinese market, the brand name was infamously interpreted as “Bite the wax tadpole.” And Pepsi’s logo “Pepsi brings you back to life” was interpreted in Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” It not only sounds wrong, but it’s also disrespectful toward Chinese culture.

Content localization is here to help you avoid these mistakes. Although such giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi could survive such huge blunders, a small business or a startup probably couldn’t.

As far as localizing for social media specifically, let the numbers speak for themselves. According to Lyfe Marketing statistics:

  • 71% of consumers who’ve had a positive shopping experience on social media would recommend the brand to their acquaintances. Here’s where localization of social media content can help you out, as you make your brand’s products more accessible to wider audiences.
  • 91% of social media users access their accounts from smartphones or tablets. By localizing your social media posts, you’ll be able to not only access laptop users but other wider audiences who use their smartphones.
  • 49% of millennials claim that they are ready to buy a product after they’ve seen its promo on social media. Localization of your social media content will help you not only target the exact audience you want but by localizing this content you’ll be able to reach more people on the international scale.

Social media is a big deal in the world of marketing, and you already know how many people use social media platforms worldwide. “Localization of content on social media is an absolute necessity for the modern-day marketing,” says Peter Jefferson, a marketing specialist at localization and translation company The Word Point. “Having a post entry written in English and thinking that that’s enough is a big mistake. By localizing social media content you show your respect and genuine interest in reaching an international audience.”

Localization of your social media posts can benefit your business in a number of ways.

1. Your brand becomes more customer-oriented

By localizing content on your social media accounts, you improve communication with your customers in a certain country. Your client from Japan, for example, doesn’t want to buy a sweater from you if all they’re looking for is a pair of pants. The differences in languages can lead to embarrassing misunderstandings, and localization can help you avoid that.

Consider how IKEA solved the problem of localizing their social media content for different countries. They created a separate Instagram account for each country they operate in to help people in the target countries be more familiar with their products. This definitely improves B2C connections and communication.

2. You show more cultural sensitivity

Localization does not only deal with text. When talking about social media content, most people likely think of visual content like videos and images. And here localization plays an important role as well, as the pictures that are considered to be normal in your country can be considered inappropriate and obscene in other countries. By paying close attention to what you post for your audiences from other countries you’ll be able to secure your authority and create a strong image of your brand.

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Global audiences, social media and content localization

You also get a chance to express your respect towards a target culture by inviting local professionals to introduce your brand. That’s what Sephora Turkey did by inviting Murat Bekler, a Turkish makeup artist, to represent the brand’s cooperation with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty makeup line. This builds a kind of trust between a brand and consumers, as they see a familiar face that recommends a brand to them.

3. You get tons of comments and shares

Sharing, re-gramming, re-tweeting, liking — all these things are desirable for every brand. This means that your brand gets more recognized and popular. By localizing your social media content you reach bigger audiences and get a definite chance to get more likes and shares.

You can see the same results with geotargeting: if you identify a specific location on your post, you immediately get more views, likes, shares and so on. But localization works on a wider scale: if you localize your content from English to French, you’ll not only reach people from France, but likely other French-speaking people from all over the world.


Pauline Farris
Pauline Farris speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She has traveled the world to immerse herself in new cultures and learn languages. She is a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division


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