The whole discussion about the translation, or rather localization, of social media platform UIs is nothing new.
Millions of people, millions of opinions. For some, the existing user interfaces in their native languages totally suck (excuse my French), for some they are fabulous, and they wouldn’t change anything. Users rarely pay attention to what’s happening backstage, whether it’s human linguists, machine translation, a freelancer, agency, SLV, MLV and so on (and they are right, for that matter). For the most part, though, if it’s there and it’s working, it’s all good from a so-called average user’s perspective.
Fortunately, for an internationalization or localization executive at Facebook or Twitter, no user is average, and there’s always something that can be done better, though. So yes, the bar is high and there are specific expectations that people at the social media businesses can and should expect from their translation company. User experience is the king! Period.
Many articles regarding translation services treat quality as an obvious thing. Well, it’s not obvious, although yes – it’s a given. This clearly overused word fits a complex universe of processes, teams and management initiatives, while essentially it is the ability to match the client’s expectations regarding any aspects they find important.
For the translation company to be able to deliver the exact quality you need, it has to have specific people, culture and processes that match your company’s unique flow.
Does the SLV, RLV or MLV you have in mind feel your company flow? When you look at a translation agency that you consider hiring for your projects, do they understand the quality the same way you do? Does the localized content reflect it? Do your users feel what makes your voice unique in their native languages and cultures?
Social media platforms’ content is not the usual website content (and this comes in many shapes, too, from the platform settings, through help, legal and of course, marketing) that companies translate.
It takes the linguists to translate live in the specific Internet environment. This poses a certain challenge to your potential translation partner. Time is of the essence here, you need translation partner that offers the resources here and now, able to take up the translation when needed. You want your translation company to be able to deal with massive translation projects as well as the small bits in the required timeframe and with the quality you expect.
In order to achieve that, you need suppliers who are not just language professionals. You need more than that: a localization provider who understands how social media platform content works and who consumes it.
Any web- or mobile-based platform requires the knowledge of the technology behind it.
Technical knowledge and experience are as important as all the other factors. To be able to provide translations on time and with that specific flow and feeling that binds users to the platform, your translation professionals have to be able to adjust to the work style and environment that you promote.
Your translation and localization specialists have to offer the tech aspects of knowledge and experience to ensure your platform does not confuse anyone, regardless of the region, the language and the tool these specialists use in their everyday work. This can be a specific CAT tool that you might wish to be used for your content (and this often means a platform’s proprietary CAT tool) or any other piece of software or service essential for successful delivery.
In Polish, to follow someone means literally following them, even stalking.
So, in order to make sure this does not cause a negative association, in the Polish version of Facebook we have Obserwuj, which means Watch, Observe. This definitely works in Facebook’s advantage and is not a cause for any negative experiences. What I mean by this example is that your translation company has to offer a team of creative linguists able to match the fast-changing linguistic requirements of specific users.
And creativity does not stop after translating just one piece of content. When it comes to social media platforms, the creativity in the localization process never stops. Sometimes it may even mean going a step further, towards transcreation or even copywriting.
Your social media platform is not only about posting things online, the legal aspects and the terminology. The translation agency should offer experience and expertise in marketing translation as well. And a few other content types, to be precise. A certain amount of creativity in the translation process is crucial to make sure your marketing content matches the source texts and also complies with the local linguistic and cultural requirements. All of that must have that feel and flow that’s, in fact, your market differentiator and competitive advantage in one.
Your localization partner should also have the expertise in all things connected to marketing, such as ISEO, multilingual buyer personas, locally accepted images and expressions in comparison to those that can be found offensive.
One badly translated word can damage a perfect content and ruin the user experience for many. One perfectly translated piece of content will enhance the user experience which you know how well will work for your brand’s reputation.
Communication is the key to any successful collaboration, regardless of the industry. However, when translating content for social media platforms, it takes a whole different level of communication to secure a project’s success.
Since this is often connected to live translations, there is no room for delays in the messaging or any sort of confusion. Your translation company needs to offer communication skills that ensure your deadlines, your translation quality and your users’ experience at the top level possible. To be able to use the full potential of a professional translation and localization services provider (e.g. a Single Language Vendor – SLV, a Regional Language Vendor – RLV or a Multi-Language Vendor - MLV), you need a translation company that is able to meet your deadlines criteria and their turnaround time does not come at the cost of your goals.
You don’t just want it perfect. You want it perfect and fast. And at an acceptable price, of course.
If you already have a translation company in mind to trust your social media platform content localization to, make sure they match all of your expectations listed here. This is the baseline. The more, the better. All good extras mean higher standards. A great multilingual and multicultural social platform is one that is liked and shared by millions of happy users.
You can also ask additional questions that you will find in this checklist.
Get your answers and go for it. Good luck!