Transcreation for social media
We have recently acquired a client for whom we transcreate a weekly batch of social media posts into Dutch and Polish. As some of the posts will be appearing on Twitter, we are obliged to keep to their character limit 140 characters (including spaces) or now just 117 if a link is to be included. We actually find that it’s helpful to stick to a reduced character count even for the posts that are destined for Facebook, as they too need to be concise if they are keep the user engaged. Character restrictions are not the only challenge we face in this project – we also need to negotiate the hashtags included in some of the posts. The client may simply use the name of their product range as a hashtag: in such cases, the translator will often already be aware of the target language equivalent that can be substituted for it, or else carry out some research to find out this information. Sometimes the client may include a hashtag of a short expression, e.g. ‘#simplythebest’, meaning the translators need to come up with something that mirrors this in their own language. This is the essence of transcreation (creative translation), where the aim is to produce translated text that reflects the overall meaning of the source text, rather than a literal translation. The character limit for these posts often means having to re-write the source anyway, particularly with target languages that increase about 10-30% when translated from English!
It’s important with these posts that the translators accurately reflect the tone of the original so as to convey a consistent brand voice. This means that, if the client communicates with its customers via social media on quite an informal level, using casual or colloquial language, the same should be done in the translation. The client wants to maintain the same relationships with its customers, wherever they are in the world, and that’s why they come to us. Transcreation involves elements of copywriting and nowhere is what you say more important than when engaging with the vast number of consumers on social media.
The likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have long since ceased to be simply forums for friends to keep in touch, share in each other’s lives and voice their opinions on whatever it may be – companies are now harnessing the power of these platforms to speak to, and with, a greater number of people than ever before. Companies who have a strong social media presence in different countries, exchanging relevant information, will find that this helps users better understand their brand, and can build trust – both of which have positive implications for any business.