If you have a growing, global brand, you probably have a sizable community of product users and brand advocates discussing your brand and interacting on social media. You can leverage these enthusiastic product experts to help you get closer to new potential buyers: have them help translate your product concepts for your target market. Contrary to common knowledge, this approach is available to a wide range of organizations, not just to the “cool” lifestyle brands that attract a huge following.
Your community of users are “insiders” in your industry because of their intimacy with your product — they know your product’s features and benefits, they have opinions about user support content, and they know how people want to interact with your content online.
If they are in-country, they also know how those concepts would be described locally and how people talk about and search for those concepts. This terminology is precisely the type of information your translators need to create the most resonant and effective translations possible.
Getting Terminology Right
Localized materials — web content, marketing materials, content on social media — can create buzz, excitement and loyalty, but they can also create confusion and frustration if the translations are inconsistent or unclear.
We have spoken extensively about the benefits of sound terminology management. Today, most enterprises use linguists to create their terminology databases. Though the linguist may have industry expertise, he/she may not be a product expert. Training the linguist doesn’t always make sense. Instead, an in-country product expert can help you get a tighter handle on your terminology and SEO keywords than an industry generalist, especially for new products, unique in the market.
You can put your important brand concepts into the hands of a product expert, but it takes some creativity and planning.
Engaging a community to help with your terminology is also a great way of making sure your terminology stays current. Terminology changes and develops constantly. For instance, the current trend towards using informal, personal language can easily render your established terminology (which you’ve spent years creating and fine-tuning) obsolete. Engage local users to take stock of where your terminology stands and identify gaps in actual market usage.
5 Steps to Engage Local Communities
Harnessing your community to do this terminology work doesn’t require much time or infrastructure. What do enterprises need to do to engage enthusiasts and product experts to provide this important function?
- Recruit your contributors. Post the project in the existing product forum and corporate social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Write the solicitation in such a way that the project seems interesting and exciting. Make sure to mention the “what’s in it for me.”
- Motivate your community to participate. For example, a community can be paid with “perks.” Anything will do — T-shirts, early peeks into new products, coupons, etc. Lots of things can motivate people to participate.
- Set up an online discussion forum where the community can like or respond or comment to strings, submit ideas, and see what other community members are doing. Make it easy to access from a mobile device — anywhere, anytime.
- Through the forum, allow your experts to provide translations for new terms and concepts, and to identify existing terms that should be changed. Notify users of new posts and provide a link so they can easily access them.
- Engage a moderator — a willing SME or an internal person — who will start discussions, send participants links to the forum, and make sure a final translation is chosen.
What Do You Have to Gain?
When done correctly, we’ve seen myriad benefits. You may:
- Access the true experts. Because of their proximity to your product, an actual user can provide accurate and appropriate translations more easily than translators.
- Reduce the burden on your in-house engineers, product managers, or marketing people. They have a day job, after all.
- Get it done quickly. Global product release cycles are fast and “always-on” community of experts can quickly offer feedback and direction — faster than people who are working on a clock.
- Gain full language coverage. Even if you have a large language set represented in-house, you don’t likely have all of them.
- Save time and money by doing it once. Translators will use that translation over and over.
- Build greater resonance with your potential user base and improve user satisfaction and generation of new committed users by optimizing user and support materials.
Critical Success Factors
These programs can be wildly successful if the motivation provided is compelling, and if the process is easy for users to follow. Under these circumstances, the community becomes enthusiastic and contributions became regular. While participants may come and go, the community can be sustained by the moderator, who not only guides participation through the interface, but continually looks for new specialized users.
If you have an enthusiastic and dedicated user community, you can mobilize them to help you with your global market strategy… to their benefit and to yours. This a win-win strategy that we expect to see deployed more and more.