Language in social media marketing

Language in social media marketing

In social media marketing, you want your outreach to be as wide as possible – so English is the obvious choice? But what about those persons in your target group who do not understand English? Let’s look into some best practices.

For interpreters, the language question is of particular importance. There are different approaches that can be pursued, depending on the individual situation of each interpreter. Some questions to be clarified beforehand should be: 

  • Why are you using social media marketing?
  • What languages do persons in your target group speak?
  • What language do they feel most comfortable with?
  • What language do you feel comfortable with?

Based on the answers to these questions, you should choose on of the following options. It’s important to stick to one option, so your followers understand your approach and can decide if they are happy with it.

1 - Posting in your native language

Your native language is your strength, and many of your clients are likely to speak your native language. However, depending on your native language, it might strongly limit your possibilities of reaching an audience beyond your typical follower. Nonetheless, it has been proven that customers have more trust in brand content that is published in their native languages than in content that is published in English or another language. Therefore, if you want to continute to address yout typical client, this approach could be useful.

2 - Posting in English

English is the lingua franca and has a large target audience, both native and non-native speakers. Depending on whether you want to network with colleagues from around the globe or promote your service for (new) customers, there are ups and downs to the decision of posting in English. Whereas most of your (potential) customers are likely to understand your posts, not everybody can be expected to understand your content in this language – particularly considering that they are supposed to book you for interpreting assignments and not speak/understand English so well that they do not require your services.

3 - Using different languages in one post

While some platforms, such as Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles, can be drafted in different languages and will be displayed depending on the user settings of the reader, other platforms only allow multilingual posts if you add several languages in one post text.

This can be an interesting way of displaying your language skills, but works better for posts that focus on the visual input, i.e. an image or a video. In this case, the decision on which language is displayed first matters – you should stick to one style, so your readers do not have to look for their language version anew each time they want to read your post. Then again, you do not want to make anyone feel second-best because their native language is not displayed first.

4 - Posting the same content in different languages

Some marketers decide to use multiple languages, but in different posts, by setting up the same post in different languages and posting the same content twice. This might sound nice, but might be tiresome and boring for those persons in your target group who are (close to) bilingual. 

A work-around can be setting up different channels that are dedicated to one language each. However, for social marketers with little time, this option might be too much work. 

Pro tip

Something to keep in mind that applies to all of the above-mentioned options: post your content at a time that makes sense for your target group. Consider what language(s) they prefer and where most of them are located, and schedule your posts accordingly. More on recommendable time slots for posts depending on the platform will follow soon.

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