The following is a guest post by Christian Arno. His bio is at the end of the article.
Many of us start by blogging for people just like us. Sooner or later, we realize that there’s a whole world out there – and we can be part of it.
If you’re getting serious about marketing yourself as a global brand, or even if you just want to grow your blog readership, take note of these 10 tips.
Research target markets
If you don’t care about your readers, why should they care about you? Forget the shot in the dark approach and do your homework on your international markets. Who is reading your content now? Who do you want to read it? Once you identify the groups you want to reach, learn more about their culture, interests and concerns.
You’re doing keyword research before posting to your blog, right? If so, it won’t take too much of a leap to do the same with foreign-language keywords. With the end of 2011 statistics showing 44.8% of the world’s Internet users as being in Asia, 22.1% in Europe and 10.4% in South America, mono-lingual content isn’t going to cut it.
Do take care, though, with literal translations. We’ve all chuckled at the expense of advertising bloopers, such as when Coors slogan “turn it loose” became “suffer from diarrhea” in Spanish. Check that your keywords reflect the terms people actually use and don’t have a hidden meaning.
Translating your keywords is only the beginning. It’s important to get the translations of your posts right. Even if you’re a polyglot, make sure you run your foreign-language posts past a native speaker.
Watch your tone
An online reputation is a fragile thing. Some find to their cost how hard it is to repair – and that’s just with one language. Get familiar with the cultural conventions of your overseas markets. This is about pitching it right, not just avoiding causing offense. Some languages can change according to who you are speaking to. Don’t hesitate to take advice if you are not sure of the correct form.
You might start by taking your latest English language posts and translating them into other languages. Whether or not this is a good idea depends on the topic and context. Remember, not all topics are universal. Do people in your target market care about the topic? Does it offer anything of value to them? Don’t churn out foreign language posts on products only available in your home country or celebrities they might not have heard of or care about.
Cover popular topics
The hot topics in an overseas market are a good way to draw in readers. If your blog is niche or industry specific, it’s still possible to write about what’s popular in your circles. Even if you write about origami, give them the Kristen Stewart of origami topics, not some old has-been. Get your name out there as a blogger who is on top of the trends and has something fresh to say.
Be culturally aware
Spare a thought for cultural differences. Humor doesn’t always translate well and some topics are best kept off-limits. Religion and politics are often controversial, especially if your post could be read as an attack on your readers’ country. If you have an active comments section, sometimes people will use your post to make their own attacks. Watch out for these, and for the posting of culturally offensive images too.
If you want readers in a new country, don’t think a single blog post will win them over. It takes time to build a readership. Your one post in Japanese or Turkish won’t convince many people to follow your blog. Show them you are committed by making regular posts. Consistent, interesting foreign-language content needs to be your motto. Not so different from blogging for English speakers!
Respond to readers
Sorry, no points for responding to your English-language comments if you are ignoring the ones in other languages. Keep involved with overseas readers by caring about their opinions and including them in discussions. On the other hand, trolling doesn’t just happen in English. Even if you know a few choice foreign-language insults, resist the urge to sink to their level (unless you want to be a case study on bad social media manners)!
Promote, promote, promote
If nobody’s reading, regardless of your language skills and red hot topics, you need to promote. Build links back to your posts to attract traffic. Social media is also a great tool. Take some time to find out which networks your readers prefer, whether that’s Odnoklassniki, Badoo, or Orkut. You might need to juggle social media accounts in several languages to keep it relevant.
Your international readers are much like those back home. They value original, exciting content and regular posts. At the same time, poor quality translations are a turn-off. Treat them like they matter and you could build yourself a global following.
Christian Arno is the Managing Director of Lingo24, Inc.. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 150 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV, World Bank and American Express. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.