I have a confession: I'm addicted to SongPop. It's one of those "social games" that uses Facebook and mobile devises to connected individual from across the globe in a "name that song" competition. It's all the rage and very fun. One interesting SongPop fact? The users come from all over the world...and so does the music. It's not unusual to go from a round of Classic Rock to one with French Pop. Now, I don't fare too well on these multilingual challenges, but they have brought something to my attention: Mainstream is going multilingual.
Mainstream Multilingual Content
Did you know that the Discovery Channel is starting a Spanish-only version of their television station? I just found out the other day...when I saw a commercial, completely in Spanish, during my regular programming. It caught my attention immediately...mostly because it wasn't in English. Andy, our Director of Operations, was watching the Yankee game and saw a similar commercial for a bank.
Maybe the idea of foreign-language television stations isn't new, but I've started noticing more than ever are on the air - and they're better advertised. Many mainstream TV stations, like MTV and HBO, have Spanish-only versions of their programming. And in areas with high populations of non-English speakers, it's not uncommon to see news channels in foreign languages.
Traditionally, companies who wanted to present multilingual social media content had to create separate social media accounts for each language. This is a somewhat common an accepted practice. But many brands feel it dilutes their presence. Facebook recently introduced global pages that automatically translate content into regional languages.
It's also becoming more acceptable for brands to share in multiple languages from one account. Hubspot recently reached out to a customer in France by retweeting a French tweet - without translating it:
Multilingual Content For Your Business
Should your business go multilingual? It depends on your audience. Are you experiencing higher call volume in foreign languages? Are you seeing website visitors from overseas? Are you getting emails written in languages other than English? It might be time to consider how to incorporate foreign languages into your business content.
One of the most important "first steps" if you are going to make a multilingual push is to hire staff that's...well, multilingual. Try to find at least one person who speaks the language most new customers speak. If possible, try not to limit foreign language support to content that's written or pre-recorded. Live support is often necessary, and offering it to clients in their native language is extremely helpful.
Having every page of your website translated into a foreign language can be a little bit much. Instead, create your foreign language website based on the most important and most viewed content of your current site. You can either give web visitors the option to view your foreign language site via a link or by automatically detecting their location.
When you start serving a foreign language audience, they are, obviously, going to call you. Whether they've seen your recent tweets in Italian or visited the French language section of your website, they will want this support to continue when they call you. A foreign language voice over talent can record your phone system's voice prompts or Message On Hold program, making the process seamless for customers and prospects.