Social media usage is one of the most popular online activities. In 2020, over 3.8 billion people are using international social media worldwide. This number is estimated to increase to over 4 billion in 2025.
Multilingual social media has the potential to reach a huge audience. The internet has almost 5 billion users, with an average of 8 social media accounts per person. Having in mind these figures, many companies have started to understand the power of social media and the fact that one language is not enough to get the results they want.
Nothing conveys more trust than seeing content in your language and mindful of your culture. Connecting online with this huge global audience is not possible without a very carefully planned strategy, multilingual content of excellent quality and translations that are culturally-aware.
When translating content for social media, the most important thing is not just to always translate, but rather how you do it. How many times have you browsed an international social media platform set in your native language and felt that the translation may be a bit awkward and even forced at times?
Terminology is one of the biggest challenges that arise when it comes to social media translation, especially when it comes to user generated content. All the major players have shaped the jargon in English.
For example, you have words like “tweet”, “like”, “follow” and “unfollow”. If you keep the verbatim translation, then this will sound funny, awkward or misplaced.
So, how should we translate them?
There is no effective method that can be applied everywhere in this filed. We can only try to adapt the translation so that it sounds natural, or loan the words (when it comes to user generated content, many of them are already loaned). Regardless of our approach, the message must be clear for the readers.
Another challenge is the number of characters restriction. Many social media platforms restrict the size of the texts that can be posted. While translating from English into languages such as Spanish or French can result in a 20-25% expansion of the text, translating into German may expand the text to as much as 35%. On the other hand, Chinese, Korean or Japanese will usually lead to text contraction.
Another challenge is the use of the new internet slang. Social media has its own vocabulary and it keeps developing like a regular language.
Here are a few examples of internet slang: 2day (Today), AMA (Ask Me Anything), BOT (Back On Topic), HRU (How Are You), IKR (I Know Right), IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) etc.
Linguists often struggle with how, what and what not to translate. The best translation for your readers should be a natural one, along with plenty of context. This will help them understand the relayed message much better than a very literal approach.
Another challenge is represented by hashtags. Hashtags are words or phrases consisting of alphanumeric characters prefixed with the pound sign (#). Authors use hashtags liberally within tweets to mark them as belonging to a particular topic, and hashtags can serve to group messages belonging to a topic. They are indeed a form of metadata and are featured in other microblogging and social media platforms.
These are not all the challenges a translator can face while translating social media content. However, as long as the translation is clear, the tone is adapted to the target audience, the client’s requirements are met, then you should be a satisfied translator.
If you are looking for a provider of professional social media content translations, get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to help you.