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How to broaden your video's reach

Christian Arno
How to broaden your video's reach Christian Arno

In this global day and age, savvy marketers are directing their efforts overseas. It's now easier than ever to appeal to a multilingual market. It just takes a translation here and there, modification of your SEO, and bingo -- you're appearing on screens all over the world.

But maybe you've heard the stats that YouTube is the world's second largest search engine and you want in on a slice of the celluloid marketing action. What then? Luckily, making videos for a global audience isn't as difficult as you might think, and hopefully these handy hints will help you along.

Decide whether to dub or sub
Filming one video is difficult enough, and it's likely that your production department (i.e., you but with a camera and a microphone) doesn't have the resources to re-shoot in a multitude of different languages. So you've got two options -- you dub your target language over the top, or you add subtitles. Both have their merits and pitfalls. Dubbing is handy for countries where illiteracy is high and subtitles might not do the trick, but it's at the risk of looking like a bad Samurai film. You want your video to be remembered, but for all the right reasons!

If you're subtitling, here's where you can use Google Translate, or take advantage of YouTube's auto-translate tool, which will translate any captions you upload. But with machine translation, it's never perfect, so it's sometimes wise to get a professional translator to give it the once over when you're finished.

Set up separate channels for each country
Just as you wouldn't tweet in 40 different languages from the same account, don't do it with YouTube either. You want your audience to keep coming back, and if they have to wade through loads of videos that aren't even in their language, they're quickly going to disappear into the cyber-ether, never to return. Take telecommunications giant T-Mobile, for example. It has a different channel for the U.S., the U.K, The Netherlands, and even one for Macedonia.

Think before you film
Before you even start filming, you need to think of ways to make it easier for a global audience to access the final product. As we've already covered in the dub vs. sub debate, you're going to need to translate any speech, so minimizing the spoken word will help boost your efforts.

Also remember that internet speeds vary quite considerably across the globe. While your inner Francis Ford Coppola wants to shoot a 60 minute epic in full HD, some countries are still using dial-up, and they won't even get as far as the play button. If you simply must shoot in HD, then consider uploading a low-res version onto your appropriate channel.

Know the culture
Knowing about and navigating cultural differences in all the countries you want to target is imperative. For example, while a "thumbs up" signifies good things in the Western world, in Iran it's seen as a highly obscene gesture. Having a little knowledge can prevent embarrassing misunderstandings.

You also need to be aware of precisely where you're uploading your video. While YouTube is clearly the video powerhouse across much of the world, have you thought about places like China where it's famously banned? Whether through strict censorship laws, or just plain cultural preference, there are popular YouTube alternatives out there. In China, the top video sites are Youku and Tudou. By doing some quality research, you can ensure that your multilingual video actually gets to where it needs to go.

Embrace VSEO
Finally, you might have the best video in the world, but if nobody can find it, nobody's going to watch it. Remembering that people search in different ways and languages is essential, and will require a little bit of hardcore keyword research. Video SEO (or VSEO) is the same as your regular SEO, but going multilingual takes a little more effort. You'll need to know how a local from your target country might search for something, taking into account any local idioms, abbreviations, or colloquial terms. Drafting in a native speaker is easily done -- 10 minutes with them will yield much more than many hours of confused Googling. If you're brave enough to try it for yourself, Google's Keyword Finder tool is a good place to start.

With a little foresight and the right skills, creating a multilingual video isn't quite as difficult as you may think. Hopefully these tips will put you well on your way, but for now, that's a wrap!

Christian Arno is founder and director for Lingo24.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.


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