The Challenges of Social Media Translations
Social media translations are in more demand than ever. Platforms such as Instagram and Twitter provide an avenue for the whole world to see your business and brand! Many of these platforms translate captions to the user’s language automatically to improve accessibility to a global audience. But with their unique form and purpose, these automatic social media translations are rarely professional or high-quality.
To truly leverage your social media marketing, build trust with global clients, and create content that engages worldwide, you need to use professional social media translations. However, even skilled linguists with backgrounds in media run into issues. Here we discuss these unique challenges so you can avoid them and send out successful multi-lingual marketing campaigns.
Challenges of Social Media Content Translation
All forms of translation run into some challenges. At the very least, there are instances when no direct translation is possible. Certain words in one language might not have a direct correlation in another language. This limit could mean using an approximation that’s close enough or stringing together several words to convey the same meaning as one.
You also have to consider things like slang, cultural context, and conveying meaning to specific groups of people. Whether you’re creating web content, blog posts, or social media posts, these considerations are essential. However, because of the precise nature of social media content across platforms, you’ll face additional difficulties with social media translations.
Here are four challenges to be aware of when you translate your social content into another language:
1. Limits on the Length of Content
When it comes to social media translations, one practical issue many companies come up against is length restrictions. Take the English word sale. This translates to rebaja in Spanish, verkauf in German, xiāoshòu in Chinese, and takhfid alsier in Arabic. The four characters you started with turn into 6, 7, 8, and 14 characters, respectively, and that’s just one word!
This difference might not make much difference on a web page or blog post. You may have to adjust your layout to accommodate longer or shorter content, but you can use the correct vocabulary to convey your meaning regardless. However, the challenge of social media translations becomes much more complex when you have a hard limit on characters, as with Twitter.
You want to utilise available space wisely, but you may exceed limits when you translate language word for word. To counteract this expansion, you must display an incredible economy with word choice. This is where professional translation services can help. Creative translation or transcreation services ensure your posts convey the same meaning while adhering to stringent space restrictions.
2. Translating Language-Specific Terminology
Every culture has slang that makes content translation difficult. The word cool might have correlating terms in other languages, but their meaning is likely related to temperature rather than social status. Further adding to complications for commercial translation is industry jargon – essentially technical slang – which becomes an issue for content in specialised industries like engineering and finance.
One possible solution is loan words. A term popular in one language but unavailable in others can be borrowed, entering the lexicons of many different languages. The English language uses many loan words. Everyone knows the meaning of the French word café or the German word kindergarten. They enjoy such widespread usage that we don’t consider them foreign words.
The same is true of words that originated in English but have been adopted by other languages. One example associated with social media is Facebook. Sure, it’s the name of a company, but words for face and book certainly exist in other languages. However, the word Facebook has broadly been accepted as is rather than translated.
On the other hand, the Like button on Facebook has been translated into other languages. So, if your content includes Like us on Facebook, you must translate everything into your target language but the loan word, Facebook.
Why is this important? The more loan words you use, the more you can ensure understanding across languages without translation. You’ll also keep the character count the same for those specific words, reducing the chances of exceeding set character limits. This instantly makes social media translations easier and is good to remember when drafting your original content in English.
3. Creating Consistently Effective Content Across Languages
Maintaining conceptual continuity across languages is never an easy task. Distilling your core message into simple, precise vernacular is difficult enough in your native language. Writing with content translation in mind is even more challenging.
You need to remove abbreviations and consider the literal translation of words. Additionally, your translation often needs to extend beyond the caption. Social media translations come in all shapes and sizes, including a simple Tweet to a Facebook video, Instagram image, or TikTok reel. You want to ensure professionalism and consistency across all media formats.
There is then the challenge of hashtags, which can significantly impact the reach of your content. A literal translation of hashtags is rarely enough. A professional translator must investigate the foreign market and find the most relevant hashtags. Depending on your chosen language and market, it might be better not to translate some hashtags at all.
Maintaining creative consistency is essential to produce compelling messaging that spans multiple languages and cultures. Professional social media translations can interpret content, intent, and focus, making them relevant and appealing to foreign audiences.
4. Successfully Conveying Brand Identity & Tone
Any content a company creates has its purpose –to sell a product, increase authority within your sector, or gain new followers – but it also has to support the brand identity. It must match up with organisational values and align with the brand narrative. This tonality can be an incredibly difficult aspect of social media translations.
Core values and attractive traits of brands are often tied to culture. A good translation agency will take the emotional appeal associated with the content and translate it with culturally appropriate meaning into your target language. This approach helps provide your audience with the right impression of your company across a range of audiences.
Trusted Social Media Translations
If you need a trusted language partner to help with your social media translations, we can help! Renaissance Translations proudly serves a wide range of industries, providing social media translations for all digital platforms. Our expert team can translate your creative media content into more than 120 languages and meet your tight deadlines.
Within our extensive network, we also have translators specialising in other areas of marketing translations such as advertising translations and SEO translations. Your partnership with Renaissance Translations comes with professional memberships such as ATC and SDL LSP Partner Prgramme. Contact our project managers today to discuss your translation project!