The social media giant Twitter is fast becoming an essential part of marketing strategies. Since March 2012, the service has reported 340 million tweets each day. Users in Asia account for a significant proportion of this daily activity. This makes Twitter an important communication channel for anyone who works with Asian markets.
Twitter in Asia: Some Facts and Figures
At the beginning of 2012, French social media research agency Semiocast shared the following statistics:
Choosing Your Twitter Languages
Which languages you tweet in will be influenced by the markets you want to reach. However, it is useful to be aware of the most active Asian languages. Semiocast's research into language shares on Twitter in Fall 2011 found Japanese represented 14 percent of the messages posted daily. Malay was another of the top languages with 6 percent, Korean accounted for 2 percent, and Thai for 1 percent.
Don't write off other Asian languages, which are among the remaining 14 percent. The notable exception is Chinese: a long-standing ban on Twitter, plus censorship and the popularity of home-grown services, mean you will need a separate strategy for reaching social media users in China.
Translating Your Tweets
These days we have a variety of translation tools at our fingertips. Google Translate, for example, is easy to use for on-the-fly translations. A range of Twitter-specific translating tools also offer simple ways to translate your tweets.
However, although these offer a quick fix, it always pays to be cautious with machine-generated translations. If you are building or maintaining a reputation, you can't afford to put a foot wrong. With only 140 characters at your disposal, the challenge lies not only in writing tweets that are concise, but also make perfect sense. A confusing or, worse, unexpectedly offensive tweet can destroy your hard work in building a following.
At the same time, the tweets you send need to offer useful information and grab the attention of your followers. Otherwise, you risk being just part of the noise. To notch up your Twitter campaign and improve results, native speakers are the way to go. Professional translators, with social media experience, will keep your message effective and your reputation safe.
Keep Culture in Mind
Speaking of not causing offense, it's important to consider the different cultures you are communicating with. As we know, a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work with Asian markets and their unique identities. Respecting the culture includes using the appropriate level of politeness and adjusting your language accordingly, as well as being aware of taboo subjects.
Beyond this, it helps to know what a particular market cares about. This won't always be the same things as your home market. Again, a native speaker can be invaluable in setting the right tone for your country-specific tweets.
Keep Your Non-English Accounts Separate
It's tempting to use your existing account on Twitter to tweet across different languages. Even more so if you are at ease communicating in two or more languages. The problem with this is that the same might not be true for many of the people you want to reach. Nobody wants to be bombarded with messages in a language they don't understand. Create a separate account for each language. Yes, it involves more work, but your followers will thank you for it.
Managing Your Accounts
If you have several Asian markets to communicate with, you could end up with quite a few accounts. Fortunately, there are services that can make managing multiple accounts easier. ExactTarget's SocialEngage is a business solution that lets multiple users collaborate on your different social media channels. If you prefer to work with a browser extension, try something like TwitterFox. Smartphone users have a choice of apps such as UberSocial for Twitter.
Getting your Twitter strategy right in Asia opens up powerful markets to you. It's never been easier to manage, making this the perfect time to get on board.
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Christian Arno is the founder of translation services provider Lingo24, Inc. Launched in 2001, Lingo24, Inc. now has more than 200 employees spanning four continents and clients in more than 60 countries. Follow Lingo24, Inc. on Twitter: @Lingo24.
December 12, 2013
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