Being a European here @ #SxSW is fun. I am like a little exotic curiosity… and you can hear it in most voices when they shake hands (or Bump iPhones): “Europe… right”. Wandering through the long walkways of the Austin Convention Center, I notice how very US and English centric most of the A-players here are. In the blogger lounge, I had a long discussion with people that want to export an social application to Europe. First question: “They speak English in Spain, right?”. Urgh. No? “But they have nothing against English, right?”
Let’s be clear: if you want to be social, and play an active role in social media in Europe, you’ll have to know the facts. Long story short: While it is completely cool to do stuff in English in England, it is not done elsewhere. Period. Courtesy towards the consumer market means you’ll have to engage in his home tongue. And that needs to be done by a native, and not by a San Diego based community manager using Google Translate.
Successful engagement requires mastering the local culture, language and specificity, and cannot be outsourced or off shored. There are no shortcuts in engagement: it is about connecting authentically.
Measurement tools and sentiment analyzers will have to be able to drill down to the core of communications being held in more than 400 languages worldwide, before they can declare themselves “global”. Just English with some notions of German and a flavor of French will not cut the cake .
It’s a long way to Tipperary