If you’ve put the time, money and effort into producing quality video content for your organisation, it’s important to squeeze every last drop of return from that investment. A great way of doing this is to change your content for speakers of a different language. This can give your business exposure to new audiences, and help you to operate internationally.
It’s also a cost-effective way of creating new content. Once you’ve finished filming, one video can be translated into three, four or even five separate pieces of content depending on how many audiences you’re looking to reach.
Somewhat surprisingly, translation can be a problem for even the biggest international companies, particularly when it comes to product names. Nokia suffered some embarrassment in 2011, with the twittersphere delighting in the fact that Lumia (the name of the company’s flagship phone) means ‘hooker’ or ‘call girl’ in some Spanish dialects. In 2006, haircare company Clairol launched a curling iron called a ‘Mist Stick’. In Germany, mist means excrement. If I were German I would not want mist in my hair.
So, putting your content in a different language is a great idea, but make sure you don’t do anything embarrassing. Here are 5 top tips for repurposing video content for international audiences:
Firstly, don’t attempt to translate an existing script if you’re not fluent in the chosen language. Nor would I recommend using services such as Google Translate - it can give unpredictable results. Get someone fluent in your chosen language to translate the script, and ideally use a native voiceover artist - these services can cost money, but it’s better than not knowing what you’re doing.
You may have to subtitle videos when there are people speaking on screen. In this case, the same applies - get someone fluent in the chosen language to translate and type up the text. With any written text, it’s particularly important to use the correct characters when spelling words and names on screen. For example, the German umlaut changes the sound of a vowel.
Don’t confuse your audience - you need to be sensitive to what they are used to seeing and hearing in their own culture. A good example of this is currency - for a French video, any image of money should be of Euros, for America, it should be dollars. Market references are also important, like considering anything referring to the FTSE 100 in the UK and the Dow Jones Index in the US.
You also need to be careful when it comes to signs and body language. In some countries, including Britain, making an “o” with your thumb and forefinger and splaying your other fingers means ‘OK’. In other places, like Germany, Russia and Brazil, this signifies one of the more personal orifices of the human anatomy - needless to say if you did this to someone in one of those countries it would be interpreted as an insult!
If you want to share content which sits on your company website, you should register the appropriate national top level domain suffixes such as au (Australia), br (Brazil), or de (Germany). Then, if you have the resources you can translate and localise your site for each country, or if you don’t, just link back to your original site. See a list of top-level domains for countries here.
In terms of social media, apply the same approaches you’d normally use when sharing content for for your national audience. Try and get interest (follows) and endorsements (retweets/shares) from the key influencers relating to the content and the country you’re aiming for.
Saying ‘I went to the shops and purchased a ham and cheese sandwich’ takes a marginally different amount of time depending on whether you say it in English, Italian or Japanese. If a contributor is articulating something over 50 or 60 words, the timings will certainly be different. Remember, putting video content into another language isn’t purely about translation, it can involve re-editing sections of video so that the timing is right between voiceover and footage, or footage and subtitles. Also, this may change the length of any text graphics, for example a contributor’s job title. When planning a production schedule, it’s worthwhile allocating time to allow for these amendments.
So, whether you want to share ideas or spread the word about what your company provides, you should see if any of your current videos are suitable for repurposing for a new audience. This could be of huge benefit to your company - if what you’re doing strikes a chord, organisations in other countries will be keen to work with you. When you’re trying to access new markets, it’s more important than ever to make sure that the quality of your video is high. So invest in getting the right people to do the translation work, take care with the re-edit, and watch out for those cultural differences.