Considering only 27% of netizens speak English (and the vast majority of those speak it as a second language), taking your brand global is a very wise move. There’s a huge multilingual market out there waiting for brands that speak directly to them. In fact, 85% of internet users say that they are more likely to purchase something if the product information is in their mother-tongue (Common Sense Advisory).
However, simply translating your website and hoping that the purchases pour in isn’t enough. As in English, it is just as important to build an online reputation in the chosen language, and this includes getting involved in digital spaces, speaking to current and potential customers and listening to their feedback. Here are some top tips on how to manage your online reputation across different languages.
Know Your Audience
The first step in managing your online reputation across foreign languages is identifying who is doing the talking and what they are saying. A simple and free way to keep track of your online presence is through Google Alerts. Register for alerts on your brand name and keywords or phrases connected to your field and they’ll send daily email alerts with any mentions online. There are options to select the regularity of the alerts, as well as the relevance – receiving them as and when they appear means you can deal with any issues straight away.
Board Tracker is another handy message-board tracking service that trawls message boards and forums for any mentions of your keywords. It’s also worthwhile following any Twitter hashtags related to your website or blog in foreign languages.
Listen and Learn
Identifying where people are talking about you online is great, but even more important is making sure you respond to their feedback to make your brand as interactive as possible. Having a translator at your beck-and-call can be expensive; machine translation programs like Google Translate are often good enough to get the gist of comments and identify which need to be responded to. However, for your replies, think about sourcing professional human translation to avoid any embarrassing mistranslations.
The trend has always been that people are more likely to complain than they are to rejoice, so the majority of work involved in managing an online reputation is dealing with criticism. Choosing to ignore negativity can be detrimental, as silence is often associated with being in the wrong. Instead, respond to your critics in a calm and civil manner, and provide them with the information they require. Responding also shows that you listen to your readers or customers, and that you are open-minded. If they persist, ask for a private email address so that you can discuss the matter out of the public eye.
Remember you can always help to promote a positive image of your brand online. If someone gives you great feedback on your website or product, encourage them to talk about it in public forums, such as Facebook, personal blogs, Twitter, etc. Getting them to link their comments back to your website spreads their genuine positivity. Word of mouth is king nowadays and a recommendation from a peer is worth thousands of pounds in advertising.
Get Out Into The Online World
Managing an online reputation is as much about being proactive as it is reactive. Look to guest blog, provide comment or interviews on a relevant topic, or share content with similar industry contacts. And make sure you do some research into which social mediums work best in each country; for example, in Holland, the social networking site Hyves has over 10.3 million accounts, making it a strong competitor with Facebook. What works in one country is not always the best strategy for another.
Operating across multiple languages online opens up massive new audiences, and luckily managing your reputation in languages you don’t speak is not as difficult as you may imagine. The key is being approachable, human and honest, and ensuring nothing is ‘lost in translation’; once you’ve mastered that, netizens will flock to you.