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Got an international audience? Consider localising your YouTube videos

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YouTube has become one of the first places consumers go to for ‘How to’ advice on the Internet, attracting more than 1 billion unique visitors per month. Recognising the power of online tutorials, Google last year launched Google HelpOuts, which offers paid-for expert advice via live video, and is growing at a slow but steady pace.

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Especially in the technology space, consumers flock to YouTube to learn the ins-and-outs of new applications – whether it be to try and build a website on WordPress or learn how to develop web applications with Ruby on Rails.

This kind of multimedia experience can also help win over customers while they research different options before buying new technology. Having a steady library of helpful video content – especially when it breaks down the benefits of complex technology – can be extremely appealing for prospects.

But there’s one problem – many of these videos are recorded in English and, of YouTube’s one billion unique monthly visitors, 80% come from outside the US.

While some of these YouTube visitors might speak English, they don’t have mastery of it as a first language. With 75% of consumers preferring to purchase a product in their native language, English-only YouTube presence could be costing marketers, especially those in technology companies, some serious business.

Many tech companies already know the power of video. Google has 2.7 million YouTube subscribers. Microsoft has almost 200 000, and even smaller companies have accrued substantial followings – software provider TechSmith has nearly 8 000 subscribers.

But if those businesses are targeting YouTube’s huge international audience, do they have videos specifically for those viewers? And would it be worth it to create localised material to cater to that audience?

YouTube makes it easy to find out. If your business has a channel, just click “Analytics” when you’re managing the channel, and you’ll see a granular summary of countries from which people are viewing your content. YouTube will tell you exactly where your viewers live, how many from each country have seen your videos, as well as which ones are being watched in what region.

If enough of your audience is coming from non-English speaking regions, it might be time to experiment with localised video for a new video marketing push.

Determining traction
Want to know if you’re getting traction from that video? This can be an easy test – simply link to the translated video from the original and see if viewers decide to watch the film in their native language, instead.

The ultimate way to know whether or not it’s time to translate something is, of course, whether you have a localised website. A website should be translated before anything else, because that’s the foundation for all of your online marketing. Once web copy and design have been finalised, it will be much easier to create other collateral, too, because you will already have an established tone and brand.

A multinational video marketing campaign can leave a big impact in a new market, but only if the videos are translated smoothly and professionally, so that the local content and messaging fully resonates.

After narrowing down which market to test with new videos, companies should think carefully about the best way to implement localised content.

Localising video content
Translating a video isn’t as easy as translating a technical document. Even if companies ask a translator to translate a script, that doesn’t mean the new script is easy to bring to life on the screen. Many phrases in English turn out to be significantly longer when they’re translated, which means subtitles for quick how-to videos and brief concept films aren’t really an option – by the time someone’s done reading the subtitle, the scene has already skipped ahead.

That’s why dubbing the video is usually a better option than relying on subtitles. That can mean roping in experienced voice actors and editing the source files for the video to better match the new narrative. For this kind of project, companies might want to consider looking into different global language service providers (LSPs) that can provide these services.

Many LSPs can source local talent that is fluent in the language and familiar with video software, so editing and localising content to make it culturally relevant is a seamless process. The video can be dubbed by professional voice actors and subsequently edited for clarity.

Translators can also provide other recommendations on changing colors, phrases or other nuances that help the video better fit within the region’s context.

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