Social Media Strategies for Bilingual and Multilingual Marketers

Are you a marketer serving bilingual or multilingual audiences on social media?
Do you struggle engaging with your followers because of a language barrier?

There are many ways to implement your second language on various platforms. These tips below will help you to gain clarity about the content to share based on the unique characteristics of each platform, so that you can serve more people through your social media efforts.

It’s quite straight forward when you’re representing major world languages such as English or Spanish and potentially serving huge worldwide audiences. But if your mother tongue is a minority language that social media platforms overlook and masses don’t understand, your challenges become a little different and not just from the cultural perspective.

There are also practical issues you’re dealing with, such as updates arriving with a delay at your disposal, much more limited targeting options and so on. Sharing bi or multilingual content is one of them.

While the basics apply, you still need to to filter the information given by coaches who represent the majority languages: They tell you to basically just figure out how to deliver value and then tap into a niche that’s already there. It usually isn’t quite as simple as that.

If this is you and you’ve been struggling to build an audience on social media, here are some tips concerning your bilingual or multilingual social media strategies.

Keep in mind that the second language is a variable, which may or may not form a sub-niche. But the language itself, nor nationality never does.

An added language however forces you to be crystal clear about who you’re serving so that you can be in the right place with the right messaging as well.

You should also consider very carefully what type of connections are you building on each platform and what goals would they serve. Mixing and matching those goals will not be very easy!

Twitter

Due to the speed of it and the lifecycle of a post, Twitter handles bilingual and multilingual content quite well. It’s obvious that your followers don’t see all your posts anyway and they’re used to skimming.

Monitoring where your followers are from and how they engage with your content allows you to adjust the timing. Use scheduling to stay in their stream, but don’t forget the all important socializing part either, even if it means you need to schedule it outside your regular office hours.

Facebook

While it may sound disappointing knowing you may need to do double the work, yet you’ll never see big follower numbers on your page, I would suggest you create separate pages in different languages.

This is the case even if your friends are from all over the world or you’re a personal brand. While you may get them all to like your page, it’s impossible for them to connect and share your content and that will nothing but harm your organic reach. You likely won’t be able to effectively use the real estate on your header, either, and because of the mixed messages, your ads shall lose their power as well.

Multiple pages means more work creating, curating and posting content, not to mention the time spent on engaging so a clear plan to follow is absolutely crucial.

If you’re advertising on Facebook you must have a page. Otherwise you might want to think about hosting one or multiple groups as a viable alternative.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is actually the one place where there’s a dedicated section for your language skills, so that’s where you should take an advantage of it. When it comes to your strategy, you have a couple of choices, based on your goals.

If you’re looking to connect with new prospects and customers, make sure to optimize your profile accordingly and emphasis their primary language.

If you’re there mainly to network and/or build your authority, you should write out your profile in two or even more languages.

LinkedIn also provides with the option of creating company pages, pages for divisions and even products. One alternative is to host a group around the topic.

And don’t forget to showcase your expertise on the Publisher. One clever way to utilize Publisher is to post translations of your self-hosted blogs and articles and link back to them.

All these are searchable not just by LinkedIn but also by Google, so before you decide on the languages, think about your network and who would be the people looking for you on LinkedIn.

Meddle.it

Meddle.it is a platform that enables an easy way to quote a post, add your personal comments and publish that on Twitter, personal Facebook profile and LinkedIn with just a couple of clicks.

You could use it highlight and translate points from your posts and add a request to contact you for more information.

Visual content and video

When it comes to visual content one image may tell more than a thousand words. Unless it is words, like nowadays it often is, infographics and such.

Here are a few tips regarding visual platforms if multiple accounts everywhere start to get too overwhelming:

If you’re posting quote posters on Instagram you can add the translation on your picture, on the description or simply add a translated duplicate. When it comes to your bio, I have found that people don’t seem to mind mixing languages, but you should test that yourself.

On YouTube you may want to look into adding subtitles. You can also post a quick overview on the content with your description. There’s plenty of room for that.

Pinterest users are likely least concerned about descriptions altogether and you can use different boards instead of profiles.

However, if your goal is to drive traffic to your blog or website, never mislead people with your images. What this means is that if your blog contains a lot of text in a minority language, do not post an image with a link in the majority language, either.

If your landing page needs translation, make sure you’re the one providing it. I would also warn you not rely on translation software, as those may scramble your message into something very different.

One example is what happens to this sentence ”out of sight, out of mind”. Distilled through a translator and back to English you’ll end up getting ”invisible idiot”.

Not exactly a desirable result!

The thing with newcomers such as Blab, Periscope and Meerkat is that if no content gets provided in minority languages, they likely never spread, either. Someone has to take initiative and show the way.

So, if you see the potential and you have value to add, you could add one or more of them in the mix. Just be prepared to promote your broadcasts elsewhere and have some patience when it comes to growing your popularity metrics.

Also accept that most people joining your broadcast don’t have a clue of what you’re talking about. You can however make short announcements every once in a while, in a major language, and explain what it’s about.

And remember that there’s no limitations to how many broadcasts you can do, so why not send another in another language!

Over to You

Ability to use multiple languages is a valuable asset so don’t let the challenges slow you down. Careful planning and consistency on execution allow you to cast your nets much wider and help more people and it saves you time from trial and error.

What do you think? Are you also bilingual or multilingual? Have you experienced similar challenges? How did you deal with them?  

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Eve Koivula is a multilingual social media strategist, one of the approx. 5.5M people whose mother tongue is Finnish. She helps businesses, organizations and individuals to market on tiny budgets. Connect with Eve on LinkedIn
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