A survival kit for running multi-language campaigns

The rise of geo-targeted and micro-influencer campaigns has highlighted a fundamental issue that most businesses have yet to get to grips with: multi-language content.

To many the world of multi-language communications may well feel very unfamiliar. In most cases localised content will open up and drive engagement in new channels of communication across the various sub-markets of your campaign.

Without a robust strategy in place for dealing with an international campaign, fragmented messaging and a diluted identity can easily emerge, which is potentially very confusing for your audiences.

Thankfully there are a few handy tools available to help you deliver top-notch multi-language campaigns:


Facebook Multilingual Composer

Facebook’s multilingual composer allows page admins to upload multiple translations of the same post. The post is then served to users in the language that is the most relevant to them based on their location and language settings. If the translation doesn’t exist in the user’s primary language, they will see the post in its default language, i.e. the one originally used to create the post. Activate the multi-language feature in your Page settings and you’re all set.

Whilst the multilingual composer is intuitive and user-friendly, one of the current limitations is that you are not able to schedule the posts at different times based on the language.

This is where the Facebook Restricted Audience feature comes in handy.

Facebook Restricted Audience

With Facebook Restricted Audience, you can choose to limit the audience who sees your post.

Facebook allows you to filter audiences by location and even language, making your content even more relevant to those who see it, in the language you’ve selected, at the desired time.

Before publishing, click the target button under your post and select your target audience.

Make sure you’ve enabled this feature in your Page settings first.


Multilingual considerations for Facebook Video Posts

Language, captions and subtitles should be part of your video production process rather than an after-thought. As a rule of thumb, it is best to design for sound off.

If your target audience lives in multiple countries/speaks multiple languages:

– Translate and upload your subtitles in multiples languages (use the SubRip .srt file format), and select a default language. People who watch your video with the sound turned off will automatically see captions in their preferred language.

– The main drawback here is that captions from self-uploaded .srt files will automatically show on computers, but not on mobiles devices. Aim for the right balance between accessibility, readability and visual flow: You’ll want to get your message across with a minimum amount of captions and subtitles.


Instagram

In many instances, you will find that Instagram doesn’t respond well to changes in writing systems (e.g. writing from left to right vs right to left).

If we take Arabic as example, Instagram can’t quite tell the difference between an English full stop and an Arabic one, in the sense that the Arabic full stop should be on the left hand side of the word, whilst Instagram prefers to add it to the right, thus breaking the sentence in two.

Here is a bulletproof method of ensuring that your posts look professional and consistent on Instagram when switching between English and Arabic:

– Upload your content and using your chosen Instagram scheduler, copy and paste your translated caption. Right-click in your editor (make sure you’re using Google Chrome), select writing direction: right to left.

– Once scheduled, open Instagram and switch to the desired keyboard (e.g Arabic), paste your text. Switch to the English keyboard and copy/paste your text in English.

Line breaks and spacing: If your post begins with Arabic, you may want to insert a break before the first line of text for better readability. I found this invisible space from the preview app quite effective.


Twitter

Currently Twitter allows users to view translations for posts written in a different language but it doesn’t provide any option to switch between languages or upload translations.

If you are running a bilingual account, you can post your tweet in the primary language, and use Quote Retweet for translation, keeping everything under one thread.

For larger multinational accounts, creating country or region-specific feeds linking to localised websites might still be your best choice.

LinkedIn

English is the language of global business communication, so while you may not want to localise content, LinkedIn does offer targeting tools that let you select a target audience based on language or location. This also allows you write content in a specific language and then only show it to people who speak that language.

When it comes to engaging with audiences in multiple countries, the use of multi-language content in combination with organic or targeted paid reach can boost your engagement rates and open up a range of opportunities.

It’s worth bearing in mind that implementing a multi-language campaign takes a lot more effort. You’ll be doing everything in two or more languages, managing much more content and activity than a single language campaign. This is one of the key areas to evaluate before setting off.

Are you considering multi-language content, or trying to optimise your current multi-language campaigns? We’d love hear from you.