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Top tips for social media translation

By Katie Reed | June 29, 2023 | Blog Services - Translation Translation Tips


In a global world, we all know the value of social media as one of the top sources of information, advice and customer engagement. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok or any other platform, businesses know that social media is an important tool for staying top of mind, relevant and successful.

Latest figures show that in 2023 an estimated 4.9 billion people use social media globally, a number that is expected to rise to approximately 5.85 billion by 2027.

With this in mind, the TLF team has put together our top tips for social media translation.

Know your audience

English is still the most popular language on Twitter with 55% of all tweets, but other languages have become more prevalent in the past 10 years, including Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese. These 4 languages make up 80% of all tweets. Tiktok is available in 75 countries with most of its 1.8 billion users in the USA and Indonesia, closely followed by Brazil and Mexico. Worth noting is the rise of the app in Saudi Arabia with nearly 88% of over 18 year olds using it on a daily basis.

However, it’s more than just numbers with social media translation. It’s also important to understand how the platforms are used across different countries and regions. For example, African countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana top the list for users who focus on social media for brand searching, followed by Colombia and the Philippines. 


Understand the social media platforms

It’s not only complex issues such as algorithms or specific best practice that can affect your multilingual social media posts, but more simple issues such as text length. For example tweets which conform to character limits in one language, may not in another. A translator not only has to translate the original text into the source language, but also the idea, adapting the text to these technical constraints.

Hashtags can also pose an issue for translation, as there may not be a direct translation of the original hashtag. That’s why social media translation needs an expert translator who will do research to find the most relevant hashtags in the country targeted by the translation. Their recommendation may even be not to use hashtags at all.


Getting the right tone

The tone used on social media is very specific and may vary from one platform to another. It is influenced by the audience, the business and its sector of activity. Cultural norms and sensitivities can also play a part, for example, in China the government overview tends towards a more cautious approach, whilst a formal culture in Japan leads to a focus on politeness and less open self-promotion. These are all factors that need to be taken into account in the translation process.


Bring in the social media translation experts

Social media translation calls for specific expertise including, for example, taking great care to respect the technical constraints imposed by this medium. Also essential is an in-depth knowledge of both digital marketing and community management in order to respect the standards and language style specific to each social network. Added to that, a translator who specialises in social media translation will need to have an extensive knowledge of the culture of the target country in order to adapt the translation to the target audience.


The TLF team can help

Our team of specialist mother-tongue linguists, supported by experienced Project Managers will ensure your social media campaigns are accurate, brand sensitive and culturally authentic. They understand how crucial it is to convey the right meaning to your intended audience, no matter where they are.

Contact us to discuss how we can help with your next social media or marketing translation project.






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