OMG Did You Read What They Said About You?

Enthusiastic blonde woman wearing big glasses.The Localization of User-Generated Content and Social Media

Love a product? Hate a product? Don’t keep it to yourself. Post your opinion online and share with everyone! Everyone will then tell you what they think about what you have to say – right or wrong. Then you’ll respond to what they said about what you wrote and so goes the nano-second social circle of user-generated content (UGC) exploding on the web.

As a brand owner or marketer, how do you contend with the fact that in a flash a good chunk of new content dialogue is published, available and searchable by everyone with Internet access and it is about your products, services or company.  The scale is enormous.  With 40% of the world’s population having online access, that’s nearly three billion people with potential access to this new user-generated content. The reach is ominous for the actual audience who could potentially see content published about your brand. Now imagine if it is not in your native language.  What did they just say?

Consumers are no longer passive. They are talking and sharing! They want to engage in a two-way conversation and interact. They have a vast array of devices at their fingertips that can send out comments, opinions and reviews, 24/7. The power has shifted. They tell you what defines your brand. Posting and reading social content is common for anyone online today.

UGC and social media must form an integral part of an effective global content marketing and localization strategy. The challenge is to make UGC and social media content work for you rather than against you. When social media goes bad in the context of a brand, it can go really bad. What happens when you can’t understand and therefore monitor what is being said about your brand? What if consumers are posting glowing reviews in English, meaning 75% of the world’s population won’t get to hear how fabulous you are? You need good social analytics and consumer demographics to understand the good and bad. This includes knowing what target languages and locations are at play.

475972541 (1)An integral part of a marketing content strategy that is truly global must include localization and translation for UGC and social media content. If you want to understand your target and current clients, you must know what the potential three billion people online are saying about you.  We don’t all speak the same language and have the same set of values and cultural attributes. What may be a compliment in one language could be highly suspect in another.

As noted in my article “The Ever-Changing Face of Global Content”, billions of dollars have resulted from using a UGC model in terms of revenue, advertising, apps and more. YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, eBay and TripAdvisor are all organizations whose business model relies on UCG. All these big brands have multilingual content and strong localization strategies. They look at the content and establish what impact it has on the overall business and brand. This defines the localization approach.

It is more common that brands will consider how a user interface has to work and function with 100% accuracy in all user-locales. Or, how a million dollar global advertising campaign has to truly represent brand values in all domestic markets. The expected impact is high and quite often highly visible marketing campaigns have to be “transcreated” for certain local markets to make sure the brand and its messaging is correctly translated.

Marketers must consider that for UGC and social media, most of the time as long as we get the gist of what’s being said then that’s acceptable. It just has needs to speak to the person viewing the content – in their language. I’m a professional writer and sometimes my Facebook posts are linguistically and grammatically questionable. This is okay because it’s acceptable in the world of UGC and social media content, people expect it. As long as it is understandable and not open to interpretation. Let’s face it, when you have only got 140 characters to get your message across, just get to the point.

From a localization perspective, this can be challenging. There are huge amounts of bite-size chunks of content, being published continuously, often with words missing, incorrect punctuation, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. From a cost or a time perspective, you can’t have an army of professional translators and linguists dealing with millions of pieces of UGC and social media content. When translating UGC and social content, you have to identify the appropriate quality levels and use tools like machine translation (MT) and crowdsourcing to address time and cost issues.

There are a number tools and emerging techniques to smoothly integrate the translation of UGC and social media content into the overall localization strategy. Welocalize works with a number of high profile brands to provide translations into multiple languages.  The key objectives is to ensure that all content published by you and about you, can be used to generate revenue and sales and further increase the value of your brand.



Louise Law is Communications Manager at Welocalize.  You can reach her at or follow us on Twitter @welocalize.