Lost in Social Media Translation

The internet is a powerful tool. Most of us use it on a daily basis, searching for information, reading the news, watching TV, listening to music, and of course, connecting with our peers. The internet has become such an important part of our daily lives that it has inserted itself into our language, creating new words like “blog” and “hashtag” and changing the definitions of words that already existed like “viral” and “surf” and “troll” (which has nothing to do with a person hiding under a bridge).

Whether or not you are a marketing professional, you probably know how important social media is for marketing and business. Blogs, like this one, are everywhere. Companies are on FacebookTwitterInstagram, Pinterest, Google+ and countless others, shamelessly sharing and commenting to get their product out there.  The more shares and Retweets, the more people will see your product or service.  It makes sense. And it works

But what about when you want to translate marketing material for your global audience?  Picture this: you’ve just finished constructing a beautiful email with great content and pictures and all the links to share and tweet and pin to your audience’s social media site.  Maybe you go through a machine translator, or a bilingual friend, or maybe you just need a few sentences translated, so you’ll take your chances with Google Translate.

Before you do something, or say something, that might make you lose your audience, think about those words.  If your content says something like “post this to your wall” or “share this in your news feed” are you sure those words are going to translate well?  These words have multiple meanings in our language, so how do you know what word you’re getting in translation?

Google Translate has made some improvements in their translation app, so if you type in the words “news feed” and translate to Spanish, you’ll get “feed de noticias,” but if you decide to be more casual, and just type in “feed,” you might get “alimentar,” the verb meaning to put food in someone’s mouth.

Many languages have adopted English words or use words with similar meanings, but how can you be sure?                                                                

This French blogger translates a “seflie” to a term literally meaning “ego-portrait” and “tweet” to “gazouillis,” which just doesn’t have the same short and sweet ring to it that represents Twitter so perfectly.  Or you could run into a sticky situation translating the word “pinner” if you’re using Pinterest, the literal translation would be a curse word with unsavory connotations.

You don’t want to offend your audience or lose a customer because of a silly translation mistake.  Social media is so important to your marketing strategy, and a translation mistake is a great way for your advertisement to go viral—for all the wrong reasons. Here at Lionbridge onDemand we have translators that are fluent in your language and native speakers of your target language.  They know the terminology to use on social media that will make you look like you know what you’re talking about.  Come check out our services here.