Social media is huge, and it’s global. Within social media, one name dominates the planet. Facebook alone accounts for 1.59 billion monthly active users — and over a billion daily active users. Facebook didn’t exist before 2004. Now, for over a billion people, it is hard to think of daily life without it.
Corporations have taken it to heart, and are putting their ad dollars where they can find their consumers. Mobile advertising (alone) on Facebook is projected to grow to $3.84 billion in 2016. It’s not just ad dollars. Other organizing, messaging and activities — events, contests, product announcements, brand engagement, customer service and audience engagement, content marketing — are all occurring through Facebook.
To reach ever-expanding global audiences, Facebook has provided automated translation of posts. This is a great enabler of basic levels of mutual understanding. For natively-fluent audiences, though, it can lead to embarrassing situations, misunderstandings and confusion.
This example of machine translation (MT) of a BBC Arabic Facebook post provided fairly reasonable results to understand the gist of the message, but there are still some oddities and stilted language.
Because of that, Facebook is now experimenting with a tool to enable Page administrators to host multiple versions of the same post in different languages. The content of the post, provided by the Page administrator, would be served to users based on their Facebook language preferences.
The Next Web has a great article detailing the new multilingual Page administration feature. It’s not available across all of Facebook yet. As TNW emphasizes, “this isn’t an auto-translation option for readers, it’s the ability to change the content that a post shows based on language… Once set up, if you’ve lined up a post in a user’s chosen language, they’ll see that version instead.”
Of course, it only works for the languages you provide. You can set a default language for your post, and add as many translations as you wish. You can even add more languages to a post afterwards if your translations are not all ready when you need to make the first posting.
Organizations can now effectively engage multilingual communities without having to maintain separate Facebook Pages for every different language they want to support, or having to clutter a single Page with each different foreign language version of the same post. While it may still be appropriate to have separate language Pages for very large audiences (for instance, BBC in English, BBC Arabic, and so on), for many smaller organizations and communities, this is a blessing.
How eager are you to be able to use this new feature on Facebook? How do you currently manage your multilingual social media communities? We’d love to hear your feedback! Send us your stories at [email protected].