Whether you are marketing only to Asia or to the wider world, multilingual content will give you access to the world's most booming markets.
Asian web users in particular have become a force to be reckoned with. Asia has already taken the crown as the most active continent on Facebook, Twitter is flying high in Japan, Indonesia, and India, and content-sharing sites Instagram and Pinterest owe much of their success to the strength of their user base in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Where they have succeeded, others can too. Plan ahead for a multilingual content marketing campaign that stays on target in Asia and beyond.
Make Your Image Work for You
Successful global brands are instantly recognizable no matter where they are in the world. A strong logo that transcends borders such as the Apple icon, or universal branding such as Coca-Cola's red and white design need no translation. Consumers know not just what product range to expect but also what image the brands carry, whether that's upmarket, cutting-edge technology or youthful and fun-loving.
These brands are masters of their image. From city stores to web pages and apps, customers know if it's Apple it will be sleek and modern. Likewise, regardless of the media, Coca-Cola marketing will be upbeat and energetic.
Follow their example by developing a brand that's flexible. Unless your own product or service has strong cultural roots, avoid anything that is too firmly tied to one language or to cultural symbolism. Instead, decide what you represent, and make sure that comes through loud and clear in all of your content.
Adapt Your Media and Message to Local Markets
Once you've developed a strong image that works across boundaries, get to know your local markets. Their preferences will drive each region or country-specific campaign, including the way it's delivered. For instance, social media is an essential part of content marketing in countries such as the Philippines. For maximum exposure in India or Singapore, find a way to harness web users' enthusiasm for image-sharing. ComScore figures reveal that Asia also has some of the world's most avid online video viewers, with Vietnam leading the field.
Alongside media, work on a message that fits with the culture of each target country. KFC found popularity around the world when the fast-food chain blended its core product with local cuisine, resulting in dishes such as Yuzu dry spiced fried chicken in Japan. You don't have to be in the restaurant business to give products or services a local twist. It might instead mean putting the emphasis on the ways you can support local customers, or incentives that tie in with national events or trends.
Again, Coca-Cola is a good example of adapting a global brand for a country-specific audience. Its ground-breaking Chok! campaign tapped into a country-specific demographic with Hong Kong teenagers. By using their slang and appealing to the passion for fun, interactive apps among the country's youth, Coca-Cola created a campaign perfectly adapted to the local culture. The interactive promotion made use of TV, cinema, YouTube, Weibo, and outdoor screens to reach the widest possible audience. The campaign was a sensation.
Speak Your Customer's Language
Coca-Cola demonstrated how language can truly personalize a campaign. Teens in Hong Kong identified with the message, helping it go viral. On a larger scale, any campaign in Asia or beyond also needs to connect with the customer by using their own language.
Facebook would never have gained global domination if the network had remained monolingual. Users now have a choice of over 70 languages, with Indonesian and Chinese both now in the top 10 languages used on the site. With so many people around the world now using Facebook, non-English speakers are coming to expect similar multilingual capabilities from other online brands. If you don't show them the respect they deserve by offering quality translated content, be prepared for them to seek out someone who will.
Mobile Content Is a Must
The Asian market in particular is devoted to mobile devices, though it's a trend the rest of the world is following. For example, the mobile web is now bigger than desktop-based browsing in China, with over a billion mobile subscribers as of March 2012. In Japan, four-fifths of the population use the mobile web.
Any multilingual content strategy aimed at Asian markets, which are driven by the younger generation, must include a mobile campaign. If you want to increase brand awareness, develop an app - East Asia now dominates the mobile app market. The advantage of apps is that you don't have to be a corporate giant to get noticed, as the list of Asia's Top 50 Apps shows. Capture the public's attention with an app that's useful or entertaining and you could join them!
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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.
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