Successful social listening requires an understanding of not just the language in a literal sense, but figuratively, culturally, contextually and tonally. While software can help translate – human language is more nuanced than translation software and tools can accurately process.
When speaking face to face, humans rely on visual cues to help us better understand what is being said. Online conversations don’t have that so you need to read carefully and in context to truly understand things like tone, irony and sarcasm. This becomes even more complex when you consider all of the languages spoken online both those that are specific to a country or region, and the jargon and acronyms within online platforms themselves.
When conducting social listening on a multi-country or global project, to draw out true insights – we find the only accurate solution is to have analysts, fluent in the language and culture of a region do the analysis.
Imagine you were doing a global social listening project on cancer. When it comes to Latvia, if you were using Google Translate, you’d certainly get the wrong end of the stick! One of their common idioms, the equivalent of “seeing one’s true nature” would instead be a part of your oncology dataset!