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Languages and social mediaSocial media is a key part of an online marketing strategy, but if you want to use it to its full potential don’t forget about the global reach of the internet. When you are playing on an international stage a lack of scope can restrict you before you’ve even started.

Communicating from the Right Platform
There’s still a common misconception that the internet is populated only by English speakers. Ask the people around you for the names of social media giants and you will invariably hear Facebook and Twitter, alongside LinkedIn, Google+ and maybe some popular social bookmarking sites. However, did you hear any mention of Orkut, QZone, Vkontakte, and Mixi? If not, that’s a large part of your global audience who could be missing out on your message. According to the World Map of Social Networks: June 2011, each of these social networks is a major player in other parts of the world.

Talking the Same Language
More food for thought: the second most used language of internet users, in statistics shared by Internet World Stats, is Chinese. In fact, the closing divide between the 536.6 million English-speaking internet users in 2010 and the 444.9 Chinese-speaking users suggests that China’s growing population and access to technology is already posing some serious competition. Spanish speakers are another force to be reckoned with, representing at 153.3 million a substantial 7.8% of global internet users. What’s even more interesting in these ‘Top 10 Languages of the Internet’ figures is that, even putting aside other linguistic groups of high usage such as the tech-savvy Japanese and Korean speakers, those speaking what might be considered minor languages together represent almost 18% of internet users.

Our earth and languages spoken

Trepidation is normal when venturing into online territories where English is at best used like an exotic spice to flavor conversations. Add in non-Roman characters and even the best of us can be at a loss. Fortunately, there are ways to expand your choice beyond either invisibility or the miscommunication that can result from poorly-phrased automated translations. Get a native speaker with social media literacy on board and you open a door wide to your target overseas market.

Reaching Across Cultural Boundaries
In dealing with international web users, localization is more than just a buzzword. It comes down to understanding and respecting the people you want to reach, and getting it right can mean going beyond stereotypes and blanket guidelines. Using an inappropriate color when communicating with Chinese customers or out-of-place informality with Indian contacts can destroy your efforts to engage your audience. Watch out too for hidden meanings in taglines and slogans. Even world-famous brands slip up sometimes, for example, ‘The future’s bright…the future’s Orange’ might sound catchy but could be interpreted as having a political meaning in a country such as Northern Ireland. Time spent researching and getting to know your overseas markets, or working with someone with that knowledge, will be well worth it. Authentic communication demonstrates that your network matters to you and will help to build a relationship of trust.

Localization isn’t only about those cultures and countries that you don’t know. It extends to those you think you know, too. Even where you speak a common language, your social contacts in other countries will have their own ways of using that language, as well as different perspectives on global topics. Avoid easy assumptions in your hurry to connect and you cut your risk of causing offense, which in the online world can be both public and long-lasting.

Social Media Trends and the Future

Social media trends
Keep an eye on trends and what these could mean for your international network. Social media has until recent years revolved around the written word but these days audio and video are ever more popular ways to catch people’s attention and build your online brand. If using English only in video, whether on a blog or a site such as YouTube, it can be helpful to keep your words as clear and simply-phrased as possible for the benefit of non-native speakers. If it’s important to you that everyone understands, offer a transcript so that speakers of other languages can take their time to grasp your message. Even better – why not have the transcript available in more than one language?

One last thing to remember. While reaching a larger readership widens your exposure, it’s ultimately about reaching the right people. People who will care about your ideas or product as much as you do. Channel your energies in the right direction and your time spent on international social media could take you further than you imagined possible.

Christian Arno Lingo 24About The Author:Article by , the Managing Director of Lingo24, Inc.. Follow Lingo24, Inc. on Twitter.

  • Okto May 8, 2012, 11:22 am

    Hi Chris
    Great view on social media trends. Just want to share how social media trends are here in my country, Indonesia.

    Business entity in my country is on the race to embrace social media. Everywhere, newspaper ads, billboard street, television program … all include social media identity (facebook and twitter).

    What make trends in my opinion depends on users trust and conformity to the social media platforms that are being used. Because, more users mean more chance of business promotion.

    So I believe social media platform that can provide innovation to help users in need will stand-out the crowd.

  • Michelle May 15, 2012, 3:55 pm

    Hi Christian. Great post. I think that social media is a great tool and is vital to any marketing strategy in this day and age. But I agree that one shouldn’t forget the global reach of the internet. It still very much powerful and more people have access to this than social accounts.

  • Ann June 6, 2012, 9:45 pm

    Hi Christian, You are so right about social media in all facets of our lives. Look how commercial business has jumped on Facebook advertising their products. I believe it will eventually change the internet as we know it now. Videos are becoming so popular now, as you pointed out. I liked you insight here.

  • Marc Anthony June 10, 2012, 8:47 pm

    I believe that social media has become the biggest media now a days.. even faster then news … so sharing is more obvious in these….

  • Adrian August 24, 2012, 1:48 pm

    Hi Arno..
    Thanks for having a briefing about social media! One of the most favorite part which I liked is the myth that Internet world is dominated by just the English people! The real reason for such belief is that we live in a nation where English is being granted as a daily usage language for communication and thus we most encounter the same folks having English as their mode of communication whether its online world or offline world , we take it major thought! But if we just switch to some European nations there situation is quite changed! Inshort Diversity still makes its presence in Online world aka Social media!

  • Dora August 24, 2012, 5:43 pm

    Such an informational text! And I totally agree, all you have written here is so true! That’s why I love social media so much, I can stay connected with so many friends around the world!

  • Rowena September 27, 2012, 5:14 pm

    Pretty good insight. Venturing to a certain localization allows you with great benefit to your business, off coarse you’re expanding to a certain level of customers from another countries and territories. Most big companies in US are trying to implement localization on their website to reach much wider audience and taking advantage of social media to convey their offers.

  • Steven Papas April 2, 2013, 6:26 am

    Hey Christian,

    Really nice topic.Social media getting very popular in marketing and business.There is a business,there is must be a Facebook or twitter page.You can reach easily by one click update and let the whole world know.Its pretty amazing.



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