More and more people are getting on social media—it’s become a mainstream form of communication. With Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and dozens more, social media has become a key platform for digital marketing. One aspect of this format that many underestimate is so-called User Generated Content (UGC)—there are great volumes of it, and some types (especially reviews) are highly influential in consumer purchase decisions. A 2013 Nielsen Survey has some interesting stats: among the approximately 30,000 respondents, 84% trust and take action based on recommendations from friends and family, and the second-highest influence at 70% is online consumer opinions. The tide has turned from traditional marketing channels to user-generated social media, so it’s time to leverage what your users and consumers are saying.
UGC is problematic for several reasons. To start, you’ve got those massive volumes. Then, a customer’s opinion can change. And lastly, user feedback or complaints are often fleeting—that comment on your Facebook page or tweet on your Twitter account may stay at the top for one or two seconds before the next one comes in. As a result, you have not only high quantities of content, but it doesn’t stay there for very long.
Most importantly, while UGC may be available worldwide, it’s not universally accessible—customer feedback in German, for example, may not be easily readable by your customers in the UK.
So, here comes the million-dollar question: What do you do with it all?
There are several options for managing UGC. For now, let’s focus on one—translation. If this sounds overwhelming or you don’t see why you should spend precious money on translation, bear with me for a minute to convince you of the opportunity you’re currently missing out on.
Benefits of translating UGC
As we have become more globalized and more international, it’s well known that people prefer to communicate—including buy products and get support—in their own language. To leverage that global communication, it’s logical to translate it. Think about the potential impact of providing all of your brand ambassadors’ opinions in the local language for a market—you would deepen your reach and probably pick up more sales as a result. But the biggest benefit would come from repeat sales. A recent study found that people are 74% more likely to buy again from a brand when the after-sales care is in their native language—even if they speak English as a second language.
How to translate your UGC
You have three possible options for translating your UGC. Let’s go through each one from most viable to least:
- Native speaker: hands down this is the best option; you have a human who speaks the language at a native level
- Crowdsourcing: a pool of linguists that can work together to translate the content
- Machine Translation (MT): a tool like Google that can translate your content
Realistically, the native speaker option is not practical. The sheer volume makes it difficult for a native speaker to keep up and translate in a timely fashion. So, you really have two options to consider: crowdsourcing or machine translation.
This method requires you to have a community of linguists to translate the content. To handle the volume, you need several linguists for each language pair. It may prove difficult to maintain that community and ensure that you have the adequate resources at all times. In other words, you may have the linguist, but they are now on vacation. What do you do? You have to wait for their return or source another linguist, both of which take time. By the time you can translate the UGC, such as customer feedback, it may have already lost its relevance. If you’re thinking about this route, here are a couple of potential things to consider.
The community should be set up by following the three essentials of smart translation crowdsourcing, which means sourcing the right talent and supporting them. In addition, you should make sure to motivate your translators to make sure they continuously perform even though you don’t have a performance management process in place, nor rigorous quality assurance. The latter is nearly impossible to enforce. Then it comes time to pay them—which method do you use? PayPal, bank transfer, or another service? And in which currency do you pay them so that you incur the least cost?
Crowdsourcing remains popular in the west, but has lower traction in Asia. This is due to greater skepticism and lack of trust in this region, since some people tend to be risk-averse. This may change as globalization continues to dominate going forward.
Another option is to put your UGC through a machine. Seems relatively easy, right? Well, the biggest challenge you may experience here is mistranslation. These tools often have inaccuracies. The good news is with some customization, you can configure the tool to reduce the level of errors. Furthermore, you can add a post-editing process to review and make necessary adjustments to your machine-translated text.
A human post-edit could enhance the machine translation process if the following guidelines are taken into consideration. Depending on your quality standards, you can choose how rigorous you need this process to be.
Whatever you do, you should also consider defining these requirements before translation and having a pre-editing process in place. You need to ensure that your source text is of good quality. It’s best practice to clean up your inputs to ensure the highest probability of solid outputs. After all, the old saying applies: “garbage in, garbage out.”
And now to decide between the two
Machine translation is the most cost-effective and efficient way to get your UGC translated. In addition, MT can manage the copious volumes that you may receive on a daily or weekly basis. As an added bonus, you can perform the translation at any time without waiting on someone else to finish up. Naturally, the only downside is you run a higher risk of mistranslation when compared to the two more human options.
The more globally digital we become, the more you need to translate your UGC to gain a competitive advantage. It’s a trusted tool that many consumers will continue to use in the future.
If you’re considering translation, it’s never too late to get started. One of our skilled experts can analyze your needs and develop an in-depth solution. One that will flexibly adapt to increasingly high volumes, and help you expand your global footprint in your target markets.
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