It might feel like it couldn’t be easier to translate tweets on Twitter. With Twitter Translate, it’s as simple as hitting that little globe icon on a tweet; it’s supposed to automatically convert tweets into other languages.
But this service isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s sometimes a good method for casual and informal tweets that might be posted in another language. But for marketing and other business purposes, Twitter Translate falls short. You’ll still need professional translation services; we’ll discuss why in detail below.
An Overview of Twitter Translate
Twitter announced in 2015 that it would start its own translation service. However, it doesn’t employ human translators – it works with the Bing Translator.
You can turn the feature on and off, so you’re not stuck with it if you don’t want it (it’s easy to see how to remove translate on Twitter). If you need to know how to turn on Twitter Translate, click into your account settings and turn on the tweet translation service option in the content area (if you get stuck, just Google “How to turn on Twitter Translation 2019” and you should find everything you need!). If you find the Twitter translate button disappeared, Google has plenty of help on that subject too.
Twitter used to source volunteers to translate the site itself through the Twitter Translator Center. Volunteers could earn a Twitter translator badge as a result of their contribution. The volunteer community has since closed its activity, but that doesn’t mean human translation should go by the wayside, as we explore in more detail below.
Reason #1: Twitter’s Own Professional Translation Services Don’t Hold Up
When Twitter announced that it would be introducing tweet translation in 2015, the reception was less than welcome. Suffice it to say, people aren’t impressed with the Bing Translator. The top tweet from @tiellover reads, “Too bad you’re not using Google translate. It’s much more accurate. Bing translate is a joke.”
The internet is awash with Google Translate fails, especially from the days before Google Translate switched to a machine learning method in 2016. Even so, it still can’t hold a candle to Bing Translate. Bing’s translation fails are mind-boggling. Well-known examples include its delivery of the phrases “Throw up like Arizona” and “Gonzo in a long time. Today the River is.”
When the Twitter Translate tool was released in 2015, Mashable warned users that the Bing tool was far from perfect and to “factor in a margin of error with each translation.”
There are many professional instances where this margin of error simply isn’t acceptable. When you’re trying to carefully craft an emotionally engaging marketing campaign and reach potential customers through social media sites such as Twitter, for example, you simply can’t afford a “margin of error.”
Reason #2: Without Professional Translation Services, You Can’t Have Complete Control Over Your Message
When it comes to professional uses like marketing campaigns, details matter. Every piece of the message is planned, reviewed and sometimes even tested on focus groups. Every word is specifically engineered to evoke a specific response in people.
Trusting that message to machine translation is like throwing all of that work out the window. You’re leaving your message in the hands of an algorithm. On the Mashable article, when they used the tool to translate to English, one tweet describing a video reads, “Our video with the secret bound, where industrial-scale on the course is depressed given the Ukrainian farm technique.”
Imagine your carefully worded marketing Tweet ending up sounding like that. Clearly, it would be much better to engage a translation company to handle anything that needs to sound human! Language like this will simply make your message look like spam. Avoid it by investing in the best translation services you can find, rather than relying on a machine.
Reason #3: The Best Translation Services Can Give You Well-Worded Tweets that Boost Your Followers
Social Media Today reports that there are several reasons why people will unfollow someone on Twitter. Some of the pertinent statistics include:
- 43 percent of people unfollowed because the content was not interesting enough.
- 47 percent decided to unfollow because they felt there was too much spam.
- 29 percent unfollowed because there was too much automation.
- 28 percent unfollowed because the content was offensive or unprofessional.
- 21 percent unfollowed because of a lack of conversational tweets.
- 18 percent said that they unfollowed due to “crimes against grammar.”
If you don’t use professional translation services, you run the risk of falling into all of the above categories. Garbled machine translation messages can appear boring, look like spam, seem overly automated and be downright unprofessional. These automated translation tweets do nothing to generate a conversation, mainly because people can’t understand them well. And they’re obviously violating the rules of grammar, another alienating habit on social media. So if you want to maintain or boost followers, don’t fall into these categories because of shoddy machine translation.
How to Get Twitter Translation Right
If you’ve been put off letting Twitter translate your tweets after reading the above, you may be left wondering where to go next. Thankfully, a growing number of freelance translators and translation agencies are available to undertake social media translation tasks. As these tend to be swift jobs to complete, prices are often very reasonable, so you can present your venture to the world without it costing you too much.
Whether you opt for a translation agency or to hire a freelancer will depend on how many languages you need. If you plan to engage audiences in a single language, it’s easy to hire someone through sites such as Upwork and Fiverr to assist with your translations. If you need multiple languages, a translation agency will be better placed to assist you and will be less hassle than hiring multiple freelancers yourself.
In either case, you have it in your power to decide how your messages come across to international audiences and thus how you present your brand. Professional support can work wonders in this respect.