To Translate, or Not to Translate? Why Create Translated Video Subtitles?

Wondering why you should create translated video subtitles?

There are many things to consider when creating video content for social media. You want to ensure that your videos are timely, informative, entertaining, and inclusive. It’s this last part that I feel most content creators tend to overlook. This is why making your video content more accessible to different cultures and countries using translated subtitles can help you grow your audience base. So let’s talk about it.

There have been great strides in being inclusive regarding gender, sexuality, and other prevailing topics, but many seem to forget one basic thing: language. 

Only 17-20% of people in the world speak English. The rest of the population is divided into roughly 7,100 currently spoken languages, some more than others. This was a non-issue from a content standpoint in the days before the Internet when advertising material had to be delivered via ship or plane or otherwise made in-country to reach foreign markets. But today, your videos can reach audiences from any corner of the world with a literal push of a button. 

To translate, or not to translate?

To be clear, I’m not saying that you should have your videos translated into all seven thousand languages. Neither should you reshoot your videos while speaking a different language (but props to you if you can do that.) 

No, I’m talking about having your videos translated and transcribed for captioning. Especially if you are in a country like the US which has a large Spanish speaking population that could be a new target market for your products or services.

This might sound like a simple fix — and that’s because it is. This is why most video content creators fail to realize the significance of captioning. Experts agree subtitles and closed captions increase engagement, enhance viewer experience, and promote inclusivity, even in same-language scenarios. Imagine possibly reaping those benefits but multiplied for every translated video subtitle you offer your viewers. 

Skynet vs. Sarah Connor

Technology has come a long way, and there are many options for getting translation and transcription services. AI video translation, for example, is a novel way of finding a wider audience. 

However, AI-powered translation has several notable drawbacks. First, AI has difficulty identifying nuance and context. It has issues dealing with things like sarcasm, humor, and idiomatic expressions — things that can help you engage your viewers. This can possibly result in awkward or incorrect translations. 

Second, AI is limited to the extent of its current machine-learning capabilities. ChatGPT has a hard cutoff — September 2021 — meaning it has no information about anything after that date. Language is ever-evolving; lexicon and popular terms can change as fast as a couple of weeks. That’s why any AI dealing with contemporary word usage might not provide the most accurate results. 

Third, background music and noise can significantly affect the translation and transcription’s accuracy and quality. It’s very rare to see social media videos made specifically without additional sounds or music. 

Fourth, many have demonstrated that AI can be exploited to gather user input. Emails, contact numbers, addresses, and names might fall into the wrong hands during AI interactions. This can potentially expose users to unwanted security and privacy risks. 

This is why having a trusted, 100% human-powered translation and transcription service provider is your best choice. Transcription and translation service provider Ditto Transcripts provides 99% accuracy on all projects, quick turnaround times, seamless upload and release processes, CJIS- and HIPAA-compliant security and privacy measures, and the best customer service in the industry. Avoid the hassle of checking and correcting AI-generated translation and transcription by getting Ditto as your translation service provider. 

Optimize, optimize, optimize

As we’ve discussed, one often-overlooked benefit of video translation is the possible expansion to other markets. Now, granted, you still can get traction in foreign countries if you primarily use English for your content. But you’re leaving an awful lot of potential to a maybe when you can take cheap and easy steps to make them a certainty. 

For example, Google Search and YouTube don’t view your videos when ranking them for Search. The algorithm instead goes through your title, description, meta-data… and captions. Yes, search crawls through captions, meaning they’re prime candidates for optimization. But that doesn’t mean you must write a script with the latest AI optimizing tool to pack it with keywords. The mere fact that you’re talking about a subject and covering the topic in detail is often enough for it to do well in SERP rankings. 

Best Practices Regarding Language in Search

To add to this, Google has this to say about language in Search:

“Our systems also try to understand what type of information you are looking for. If you used words in your query like “cooking” or “pictures,” our systems figure out that showing recipes or images may best match your intent. If you search in French, most results displayed will be in that language, as it’s likely what you want. Our systems can also recognize many queries have a local intent, so that when you search for “pizza,” you get results about nearby businesses that deliver.”

Sidenote: according to Google, it’s in your best interest as a content creator to upload all your transcribed and translated content under one brand, page, or channel to consolidate your viewership. 

Here’s a quick example to drive the point further: in India, about 20% of people search Google in Hindi, mostly through voice search, and the trend seems to be moving upward. Now if you were an English content creator looking for a foothold in the Indian market, don’t you think it’s a big mistake to exclude yourself from potentially 20% of all search results? 

And what of other countries where English isn’t the predominant language? Germans prefer to use German in their searches, as do most European countries with their own language. Let’s say you want to visit Rome in the Spring but are unsure what it’ll be like. Content like this is valuable in any language. This is why having your videos translated into multiple languages is a quick and easy way to potentially and organically expand your market and reach a wider audience.

What do ancestors, curse words, and tadpoles have in common?

If you’re on the internet as much as I am, chances are you’ve seen a few funny photos of mistranslated signs and messages. Common internet users can get a few laughs from them, but mistranslations can have serious repercussions for content creators and marketers alike. 

Honda, a well-known and worldwide car manufacturing company, released a subcompact car for the global market in 2001. They initially named it “Fitta.” Unfortunately, they failed to run the translation through the European languages, as fitta is a vulgar word for female genitalia in Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian. The word also sounds very close to Spanish and Italian curse words. To make things worse, the Honda marketing team came up with the tagline “Small on the outside, big on the inside.” Now imagine a Swede walking up to his or her local Honda dealership and seeing that name with that tagline. 

More examples of failed translation

There are a few more examples of high-profile botched localization and translation jobs. Pepsi once mistakenly promoted its brand as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave” instead of “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” in China. This couldn’t have happened in a worse place, as the Chinese venerated their ancestors. Needless to say, it didn’t go down well with the customers, and the brand suffered as a result.

Coke also released something similar in the region during the 1920s, with their brand message translating to “bite the wax tadpole.” Perhaps not as damaging, but unintentionally making their potential customers scratch their heads in confusion was probably not their goal.

This is why cultural context is important in translation. A small mistake can mean hundreds and thousands of dollars, ideally spent for positive branding, going to waste and achieving the exact opposite result. All these can be avoided when you get a reputable translation service provider while reducing the cost of your marketing efforts. 

Identify your target markets — and focus on them

Another benefit of translating your video subtitles into different languages is identifying new verticals. Youtube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and other video-enabled social media platforms offer analytics where you can see which places your videos are getting more views and traction. But what should you do with that information once you get it?

Simple. First, figure out why you’re doing well in those territories. Does it relate to your chosen topic, which culturally resonated with those new viewers? Or maybe it’s your video presence and overall demeanor? Or did you just talk about something timely which coincided with a spike of interest in that specific country? Answer these questions, and capitalize on a new potential expansion trajectory. 

Second, since you know where you’re doing well and what you’re doing right, you can now focus your efforts on them. Again, casting your net far and wide is a great way to start your expansion efforts, but once you identify a new target market with considerable potential, it’s time to allot more time and effort to build your brand there. 

Don’t get lost in translation

Now that we’ve established that translation can potentially enhance your online presence, it’s time to weigh the benefits against the costs. AI translation might be cheaper, but we’ve already covered its disadvantages. Human translation service providers are the better option, but only if you find a reliable one that offers affordable translation services. We, for example, offer guaranteed 99% accuracy for as low as $5.00 per audio or video minute of translation.

I don’t know about you, but creating translated subtitles for potential global reach in exchange for fifty bucks every ten minutes of video seems like a good deal. 

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