May 17, 2023

Think Glocal: Why you need local analysts for global social listening projects

Date & Time (GMT):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM
Date & Time (EST):
May 17, 2023 12:47 PM

So you’re making the big leap to expand your business globally but you realise that your existing marketing approach won’t work across international markets. And, since you want to make sure that you’re truly connecting with the local audience in every target market, you decide to follow the conversations that are happening online.

This is a good start because social listening often gives you the insights you need to connect with your target audience. But, it’s a little different with global social listening projects because there’s a chance that some conversations will get lost in translation. One word could have multiple meanings, literal translations to idioms may be completely meaningless to you, and so on. You could end up with poorly-translated slogans, culturally insensitive campaigns, and meaningless marketing messages.

That’s where local analysts enter the picture.

Local analysts have a deep and accurate understanding of the cultures, norms, and nuances in your target region. This means they can provide your global social listening projects with much-needed context that will help shape different aspects of your marketing and selling strategies.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the top ways in which local analysts can add value to your global social listening projects.

Understand the language

At the most basic level, local analysts provide you with an accurate understanding of the language in your target region.

Google Translate may give you accurate-enough translations to get a rough idea of what someone’s saying. However, it doesn’t have a proper understanding of natural human language since it can’t process nuances and context. It isn’t reliable enough to give you an accurate understanding of what people are really saying.

For example, Google Translate may translate “fall” into Spanish as “otoño,” which refers to “autumn” or “fall” in an American context. But if you were trying to use the word to describe the act of falling and not the season, this ends up being a huge translation disaster.

Not to mention the countless other real-life scenarios in which Google Translate has failed users. In many cases, you could also end up with grammatically and/or syntactically incorrect translations.

Technology alone isn’t enough to accurately understand what people are saying even on a surface level. So, local analysts are crucial to give your global social listening projects a much-needed human touch and provide more reliable translations from a human perspective.

Give a cultural context

Beyond the surface-level understanding of human language in terms of grammar and syntax, there’s also the cultural aspect of language. While machines focus on literal translations, humans can understand the cultural context behind everyday words, idioms and phrases, images, and even emojis.

For example, a literal translation of “just wipe that dirt off your shoulders” in Greek may become “just wipe your shoulders way” on Google Translate. A local analyst will have enough sense to understand that that’s not what the actual meaning behind the saying is.

Google Translate shows you need cultural context for accurate translation

We connected with Tamara Lucas, the Account Director and Spain Country Manager of Convosphere, the social data analytics agency that specialises in multilingual studies, to see what she had to say about this.

Tamara explained that throughout 10 years of analysing consumer-generated conversations, she’s grown more convinced of the importance of recognising the cultural context of each mention. This includes not just the words, but also the images and even emojis. This helps “to truly understand the conversation, behaviour, motivation, and attitudes of the people engaging in the conversation.”

“As analysts, we often emphasise our native fluency in our local language. But it’s important to make clear that this doesn't simply concern literal translations and grammar but is also about understanding local idioms, that manner of speaking or mode of expression that are unique to a region, country, or specific area in a given market,” she explained. “Not adept at this, technology cannot identify these fine nuances, which is why human-led analysis is crucial.”

Extract the nuance

According to Tamara, humans can take the understanding of the language and blend it with the nuances and cultural context. “We, as humans, can use our judgment and discretion to answer not only ‘what’ has been said, but also ‘how,’ ‘where,’ ‘who,’ and ‘why,’” she clarified. This then helps us to unveil the insights that matter.

When asked what’s included within the scope of “cultural context,” Tamara explained: “Cultural context covers everything from local traditions to the political history of a country. It’s about being familiar with the popular TV shows and the latest memes in a market, being able to spot the tone of a comment, to understand whether it’s sarcastic or intended as a joke. In other words, being able to understand the broader context and motivation behind a comment.”

Develop appropriate responses

An accurate understanding of what people are saying in your target language will give you the necessary insights to inform your marketing and selling strategies. However, that’s not always enough. Connecting with your target audience also involves interacting with them, answering their questions, and responding to their comments.

That’s another aspect in which local analysts can add value. How do you know that you’re responding in a way that would resonate with your audience? How do you develop responses that aren’t just appropriate for the situation but also for the culture?

Even if you understand what’s being said, there’s still a risk of unintentionally offending your audience if you fail to use culturally-sensitive language. Human analysts with local fluency in your target language will give you the input you need to ensure that you craft sensible and accurate responses.

Canva does a great job of responding to brand mentions in the user’s native language.

Does this mean technology is useless?

Not at all. In fact, technology is an indispensable tool for local analysts as it can give you a broader look at conversation trends. According to Tamara, “Technology facilitates finding patterns, clustering conversations or consumers, and visualising data but the human element of the analysis provides the context and depth to turn findings into insights to answer the business questions."

To ramp up your global social listening projects, consider working with agencies or partners that can give you the context you need to connect with local markets on a much deeper level.

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