by Emma Clarke

St Peters Square Rome“Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. Pope Francis.” Short and sweet; Pope Francis’ first tweet is just like all tweets should be.

However, there’s more to Twitter etiquette (Twittiquette?) than reducing your thoughts and wishes to 140 characters. If you want to communicate with people all over the world it’s necessary to have different twitter accounts in different languages.

Pope Francis has 9 different Twitter accounts in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and Latin. I wonder how many other people tweet in Latin?

Every tweet is translated into each of these 9 languages. So if you happen to be wondering what is the Latin for “Twitter page” I can tell you it’s, “paginam publicam.” Honestly, I’m slightly disappointed, I was hoping for Twittus.

It’s easy to swap language if you so wish, just check out who Pope Francis is following.

Translation isn’t just restricted to websites anymore, now Social Media has to be taken into account.  

St Peters Cathedral RomeSo how do you do it? If we take Pope Francis’ example, each of his 9 Twitter accounts has a slightly different name representing each different language, e.g. @Pontifex_pt being the Portuguese version. In a business setting it’s important to start out small and build up gradually. At first the only users that your alternative Twitter accounts would be the other languages, just like Pope Francis. Your tweets should consist of calls to action and relevant news about your business and news relevant to your customers.

Eventually the ideal situation would be to have an in-country marketer managing your social media accounts.  But translating your messages is a great start, and can help build up a following in the new market, and drive traffic to your localised website.

If you would like more information about translating or transcreating Social Media, feel free to email me, I’d love to hear from you. But for now, au revoir/auf Wiedersehen/goodbye.

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  • ElenaHansen

    Thanks for the article, Emma. “But translating your messages is a great start.” What do you think is the best, to have different accounts for different languages, or just translate tweets in one account?

    • Emma Clarke

      That’s a good question Elena. I think that it’s better to have separate accounts because then each tweet is relevant to the audience that you’re targeting. For example, English speakers following @Pontifex (to use the Pope as an example!) might not appreciate tweets in French, Spanish, etc. that they might not understand, clogging up their Twitter feed.

      • ElenaHansen

        Makes sense. Thank you, Emma 🙂