Social Media Localization: Be Careful of Cultural Differences

Dynamic Language | June 28, 2019

Social media and content marketing are two important channels that have reinvented the way brands think about international marketing. Thanks to the rise of social and content marketing, businesses can now easily interact with prospects all over the world.

The development of the social platform has been an overwhelmingly positive one for companies looking to take their brand global. But it has also created a lot of competition. Here are some points to keep in mind for brands and agencies that are looking to use social media to successfully connect to customers around the world.

Pay attention to cultural sensitivities in your global content

Social media is a place where communication is usually informal: people use a lot of slang, expressions, and abbreviations to interact with each other. The amount of this informal communication you choose to engage in will depend on your brand’s culture and specific goals for social media. However, remember that even if you don’t plan on using it, other people will: your social media content will always be viewed through this lens.

A good example of how not understanding slang can go very wrong for globalizing brands is Puffs, a line of facial tissues produced by Procter & Gamble. Upon entering the German market, Puffs quite embarrassingly learned that in Germany, the word “puff” is a slang term for a “house of ill repute.”

Properly Reuse Videos and Graphic Content

Where most of your written marketing materials will need full translation when you take your brand international. Occasionally, you can use some of the existing graphics and videos currently used in your home market with only minor adjustments. For video content, you might consider using subtitles as a relatively low-cost way to adapt your marketing materials to social media. It is important to check your existing videos and graphics for things that might offend people in an international market. Things like colors, symbols, and hand gestures that seem innocent could land your brand in hot water. It is important to pay close attention so you won’t offend people in a new place.

Obtain Local Help

If you plan on integrating your social media campaign into the fabric of a new culture. It’s important that you have someone who is intimately familiar with the target market. Your company certainly needs to do research and learn things about a new area to succeed in social media. It is also important that you obtain assistance from someone who has their finger on the pulse of a market that you are looking to succeed in. If you decide to seek outside help with translation, your language service provider (LSP) will often have access to this type of resource so that you can ensure that your social campaigns are on target.

Social media is still a new form of marketing that many brands are attempting to understand. When you combine this with the challenges of taking a brand global in any format, it can be a very daunting task to try to win globally on social media. By using these social media localization rules and aligning yourself with the right resources. You can find the success that you desire by globalizing your social media efforts.


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