Harnessing real-time translation for multilingual social media campaigns
Real-time translation platform Ortsbo (meaning “local” in Swedish) is showing growth that surpasses even Facebook’s early months. Clearly, the desire for social networking communication across languages is there. But how can you harness this, as an online marketer?
Machine translation is a hot topic at the moment, with technology for the first time reaching a standard that is good enough for non-business critical content. And many ecommerce businesses have embraced the benefits of expanding their online customer base by going multilingual with translated websites – however, with social media marketing you need to interact in real-time, which is difficult when translation is involved.
Ortsbo is one of the leading real-time translation tools, integrated with some of the world’s most popular social media and live chat platforms, such as Facebook, MSN Messenger and Twitter, providing instant translations in over 50 languages. Ortsbo recently exceeded 8.6 million monthly users, which has sparked quite a bit of media interest, as it is growing faster than Facebook in its early days (the modern day online start-up success gauge).
What Ortsbo brings to the table is that you can now have real-time machine translation integrated directly within social media applications and websites. Through its integration with various platforms, Ortsbo literally cuts out the cutting-and-pasting of other machine translation tools.
But when is it appropriate, as a business, to use these tools? Machine translation has a long way to go before it can match up with the accuracy of human translation, but there are a few instances where it can be beneficial. Below are five types of content that are suitable for instant message translation programs such as Ortsbo, and a ‘best practice’ guide for how they should be used.
1. Blogs, status updates and tweets
Many businesses these days have blogs running in parallel to their official websites. But while you may be able to invest in having someone post to your blog regularly, you may not have the resources to translate each and every blog post. With an instant message translation tool, you can post in multiple languages simultaneously, and users who don’t speak your language will be able to get the gist of what you’re saying (you may want to include a caveat that machine translation has been used for these posts).
The same principle applies for tweets and posts to your Facebook or LinkedIn pages. In these cases, though, it’s important to be careful that you’re not communicating sensitive, business-critical information, as a poor machine translation may do you more harm than good. In the case of Twitter, you’re better off using professional translation for your tweets, and using a real-time translation tool such as Ortsbo for instant multilingual communication back and forth between your followers (as people are more likely to forgive errors in meaning or grammar in a real-time conversation). A multilingual Twitter strategy is especially relevant for British businesses, with the recent news that UK companies are lagging behind when it comes to tweeting in multiple languages.
2. User comments
Say a customer in Japan wants to leave a comment on your Facebook page, or join a group discussion in German. With programs like Ortsbo, they can instantly translate the content into Japanese for their understanding and their Japanese response can in turn be translated back into English or German, or whatever language the next visitor speaks.
Wikis are a great way of collaborating on a project, and many companies use them as corporate intranets. For a global company, real-time machine translation could be hugely beneficial when it comes to various forms of internal communications that don’t require exact or stylised formatting.
4. Live chats
This is what Ortsbo was really built for – having a written conversation in different languages in real-time, so you can communicate with a colleague in Romania or with customers in Rome.
Essentially, the best practice guidelines for the use of Ortsbo and other machine translation tools is to make use of them for high-quantity, non-critical content that either can’t be translated fast enough by humans, or is too expensive to have professionally translated. Machine translation is good for when information is useful, but grammatical, stylistic and linguistic accuracy isn’t essential, and it can be a great tool for increasing a business’s multilingual accessibility through instantaneous translation.
The reality is that real-time machine translation is never going to be perfect, but the key is to incorporate it into your online and social strategy in a way that is appropriate to the content and to your business’s objectives and brand. And to help it along, if you make sure your source texts are written clearly and without errors, that ought to minimise ‘no-translation’ issues.
As they say in Sweden, ‘Lycka till med dina flerspråkiga framsteg!’ (Good luck with your multilingual progress!)