Blogging in tongues: Focus on Forrester

Brian Walker, an analyst at Forrester, noticed recently that his blog post was seeing active retweets in a number of different languages. And yet the blog post itself was available only in English.

So as an experiment, he and his eBusiness team set out to translate the blog entry. Native speakers within Forrester invested the time to translate the post and members of the Forrester offices in Paris, Madrid and Sao Paulo reviewed the posts before they went live.

The following three languages are supported:

This is clearly just an experiment right now, but I’m happy to see Forrester taking the plunge. And I hope other companies are similarly inspired. Despite the popularity of Facebook and Twitter, I’m still a huge fan of blogs. Blogs are where the content lives and, without blogs, what would people retweet and Like?

But taking blogs global is no simple task. Blogs are usually written in a casual, conversational style, with lots of culturally specific references. This type of content is among the most challenging type of content to translate, as it requires a fair amount of rewriting. And I suspect this is a big reason why so few companies do translate their blogs. But for large, multinational companies — companies blessed with multilingual employees — conducting a test like this is a very low-risk endeavor.

The translation agency Lionbridge invested a fair amount of energy translating a core selection of blogs — blog posts that they thought would be most valuable to readers around the world (and posts that would have a long shelf life). And they posted advice about things to consider before you translate your blog.

If you do invest the time to translate your blog, you need to make these additional languages easily findable for users. I’ve yet to see many good examples yet. But if you’re using WordPress, simply creating a new category for each language (Deutsch, Español, etc.) is a smart first step.

And if your in-country employees are too busy to lend a hand, perhaps you can lean on a select group of motivated customers or partners. Take a page from Facebook and see if you can recruit volunteers in certain markets to assist with translation. You might be surprised what people are willing to contribute — in exchange for a link or some in-kind swag. And you don’t have to limit yourself to just thinking “blog” — Microsoft relies on volunteer translation of its developer documentation via wiki (here’s the Portuguese version).

I’ll be interested to see if Forester expands on this experiment in the months ahead. And I’d love to hear from other companies who are doing the same.

Finally, if you’re a small company with no budget and no offices around the world, but you have a really good blog — try inserting a Google Translate widget in the upper right corner of your blog (I’ve got one on this blog).

It’s not an ideal solution by any means, but it’s a start. And the key here is just to get started.

Thanks to Brian and Zia for the heads up.


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