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Translating content for social media: The importance of social media localisation

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

More and more businesses are turning to social media channels to establish their brands.

Social media channels in cubes

From the well-known Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to the newest on the block, such as Tik-Tok, these platforms are key to a brand’s digital marketing strategy. In fact, their potential spans horizontally across all types of sectors. However, being on such platforms isn’t enough for businesses aiming to establish themselves in foreign markets: In order to successfully reach their target audience, they also need to localise their content.

Just as with other digital components (e.g. websites, newsletters and co.), content on social media also needs to be localised. So, what are the key aspects to bear in mind when translating content for social media?

Social media has its own jargon

With the advent of the Internet, our language has seen a few changes (consider, for example, how “google” has become a verb). And this is true for both English-speaking countries and non-English-speaking countries. We’ve seen the same phenomenon with the arrival of social media: We’ve started to “like” posts, count our “followers”, “tweet” our thoughts etc. All this new terminology is at the core of these platforms, a fact that is most certainly reflected in other languages, too.

Social media has hashtags that need to work


But it doesn’t end there. Social media language includes a variety of other elements, such as hashtags that, most of the time, end up being mistranslated, or translated directly instead of using a more appropriate formulation in the target language.

One of the worst mistakes companies can make is clearly to rely on machine translation to translate their social media posts. Social media language is all about being concise and effective; it generally involves a high degree of marketing and will prove a complete flop if not done correctly (as happened to Telus Quebec).

Social media has its own humour, too

How often have you been scrolling your feed and found yourself laughing at certain posts? Either at a video of a cute clumsy puppy or at a post featuring language/visual that was perfectly targeted to your sense of humour. Social media content revolves heavily around humour. Yet, like the tone of voice, humour is extremely culture-related and, when it comes to social media, it’s vital that you are aware of and understand all the different nuances of the relevant citations, memes, and jargon used.

We can confidently say that translating social media content is a fully-fledged creative process. It’s crucial that you tailor your strategy to your specific segment. And it goes without saying that the services of human, native-speaking translators will be essential in ensuring that your message is fluent and effective. When all the right pieces fall into place, companies will end up with a stronger relationship with users (as social media somehow helps companies establish a friendly and more intimate connection with their target customers) and inevitably more likes on their Facebook page.

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