“Social media” is a tool used by everyone throughout the world as a way of connecting family, friends and businesses that either do not have the time to meet or never have the need to meet, but still wish to maintain contact. Examples today of social media are platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

The most commonly used social media platform today is Facebook because it has a variety of online facilities for both individuals and businesses. It provides a common way of linking businesses with new consumers who can then pass on the message to friends which helps to persuade new customers to buy their products.

Challenges Facing Translating Social Media Today

Facebook does tend to attract a more general clientele while LinkedIn is a social media platform that focuses more on professionals seeking work and contacts by uploading their CVs online.

Social Media Presence and Good Translations

Maintaining a presence on social media is vital for all modern businesses, whether they are small, a local boutique concern or a multinational corporation. Translation of social media posts needs to be done if the business is developing an overseas presence. If you intend to send your message globally and out to many different nations then a translation is the most reliable tool to ensure engagement.

The better businesses use social media to thoroughly engage with their intended audience, and not in their language, but in the language of their audience. If your targeted audience, whether they are users, clients or customers try to have a go at translating social media posts and content themselves, this will likely lead to as very annoyed and frustrated user. More often than not they will give up and go onto someone else. 

Some businesses short cut their translation work and use workers who state they are bilingual. This is never a good idea as it is essential to get the best translation from an experienced translator who knows the idiosyncrasies of the two languages when translating. This should be someone who is quick to understand idioms and nuances so an accurate translation can take place.

The Social Media Language was English

In the early days of social media American English was the main language used, but as time has passed they now tend to be multilingual platforms. When the social media began to become popular internationally programmers had to work out the best method for translating the complete networks for the various platforms. It is extremely difficult to translate a key social media platform like Facebook so there has been a tendency for translators to keep the title as it is and use it as a loan word in other languages. 

Additionally, the “like” feature has literally been translated into many other languages by using the phrase “to like” in the particular language. On other social media platforms such as Twitter it has been necessary to create commands based on the original language and terminology. For example, in Spanish the verb “to tweet” is “tuitear”. As a tweet is really related to the sound a bird makes, it might have been possible to use the sound that birds make as a way of translating a tweet into other languages. This method generally isn’t used as it erases the brand image which is not the point of the translation.

Russia and China have tried to create their own social media platforms which are VK in Russia and RenRen in China but they haven’t managed to spread their wings outside of their own countries. Facebook is still the American based giant of social media globally. This continues to create translation challenges when translating the platform into the world’s most used languages. 

Challenges when Translating Social Media Content

  • Length Restrictions in Social Media Posts

The translator needs to know in advance whether a social media post is limited by length. For example, with Twitter translations, character counting is embedded as Twitter accepts only short posts. So, if a message is being translating from English to Japanese, for example, fewer characters are necessary in order to convey the message. Because fewer characters are needed, the surplus space could be filled with more detail. This is different when translating from English to German or Spanish, as you must be far more succinct with your translation.

  • Translating Slang has its Challenges

Each of the social media platforms has its own acronyms and vocabulary. These need to be mastered if the translation is to be effective. Many don’t have straight equivalents when translations are conducted between languages. Translators are able to learn how social networks how to translate social media language, but it is of great help if the context is provided which ensures the translation is natural not literal.

  • Geo-diction

Anyone who subscribes to a social media platform has to make the posts both effective and simple, whatever the language and location. To enable this it is essential to get all necessary resources in one place. Any emerging translation platform allows you to automate fully the post, so when it is posted in one language, it generates automatically a translation but it needs to be approved first before it is made public. It is crucial to get social media content translated by an experienced social media translator. 

  • Planning Ahead is a Key Skill

Producing the most engaging social media posts in themselves can often turn out to be quite difficult but when it comes to translations there are some issues that need addressing which are:

  • Cultural differences that could arise
  • Any buzzwords on social media which may be challenging linguistically 
  • Whether there is a character limit for the translation as some languages take up more spaces than others.

Social media plays a key role in the globalised world today and a social media translation strategy that is structured is of great importance for businesses that are eager to engage customers and suppliers in other countries. There are more and more competent translation services available online who can complete great social media post translations. Social media is here to stay so its advantages will continue to benefit world communication.