Are Social Media’s Benefits Getting Lost in Translation?

In multinational companies, social media may call for a multilingual approach.

In companies with a global customer base, companies must make sure that they can communicate in a wide variety of languages — both externally, with customers, and internally, with staff.

One key positive of social media and social networking is that it encourages communication — whether seeking positive interactions with current or future customers or helping employees to work collaboratively in different departments or even different business units. But particularly among international organizations, there is one key drawback: language.

MIT Sloan Management Review’s 2014 social business report identified an interesting paradox: While respondents from multinational companies indicated that social media often enabled their organizations to work more effectively across global boundaries, they indicated that it also introduced new problems. As it became easier to communicate with people using social media, the obstacles imposed by differing languages became more pronounced.

Dealing with a global customer base

This problem is perhaps most acute in customer-facing social media initiatives. The Dutch airline KLM, which has been at the forefront of putting social media to use for customer service communication, noted that it was a challenge for most companies to have a social media team staffed with people fluent in enough languages to successfully deal with their diverse global customer base.

via Are Social Media’s Benefits Getting Lost in Translation? | MIT Sloan Management Review.

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