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Tips for multilingual social media from State Dept. and GSA

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Social media managers with non-English-speaking audiences should make sure the links they post will be useful for those audiences, Mariya Bouraima of the State Department said in an October webinar.

Bouraima, the French social media community manager for the department's Bureau of International Information Programs, said if articles are in English, social media managers should paraphrase or translate portions. A series of tweets or a Facebook post "can tell the story just as well as an article, especially if it's combined with an image," she said.

The General Services Administration's Laura Godfrey, who manages GobiernoUSA.gov, agreed but noted that if information is urgent and only available in English, she will link to it so at least those who know someone who can translate can get the information.

Bouraima said that in such cases, she at least tries to write a brief overview in her audience's language to accompany the link.

When content is available in foreign languages, Godfrey said, social media managers shouldn't overthink whether it's worth posting.

She said that in her experience, non-English speakers "are not that picky, only because they're very happy to have some content in their own language."

Bouraima also said social media managers should be prepared for variations in how people from some cultures interact.

"Some cultures are just not as expressive as others," she said.

For more:
- watch the webinar on HowTo.gov

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