Friday, 13 March 2015

Do Not Translate Your Social Media Content

When you enter the Polish market, it only comes natural to translate your website, marketing materials and everything else related to your product. The next step would be to let the Polish customers find and engage with your brand. Since your current, English-language social media campaign works brilliantly and brings a fantastic return, the only thing to do now is to translate your content into Polish and get the same result.

Well, no.

You will not become a brand the Polish audience engages with only by translating content that was originally addressed to the English speakers. A Polish customer is a specific type of customer - their needs, expectations and buying habits are different from your current customers. This is why you should TRANSCREATE your content so that it will resonate with this type of client. This is where a marketing translator can help.

Your problem - our solution

Knowing your target market and tailoring your content according to their needs and expectations is the key to a successful social media campaign. Jane Buswell, a marketing expert from Business Fulcrum knows it all too well: "Just because social media is a bright new shiny marketing “thing” it doesn’t mean that the basic rules of marketing go out the window. All marketing is “your problem, our solution” so it’s essential that you really know your target market". 

Then she explains this perfectly well with a little rhyme: “If you want to sell what Bill Smith buys you must look at the world through Bill Smith’s eyes”. 
This is why translation of your content addressed to your UK audience will not work, because the Polish and English "Bill Smith" look at the world differently. So what's different then?

Background, Culture, Lifestyle

For almost three decades, Poland has been in a constant transformation. The historic tribulations and hardships have shaped the Polish nation that is more cautious and less likely to take risks. Poland is now a thriving economy; people became more outgoing and their lifestyles have significantly changed, yet in some areas they are still behind other Europeans. You can clearly see this when you look at  e.g. the number of chain coffee shops in the country: in Poland there are only 12 chain coffee shops per 1 million people, while the UK has 85 and the European average is 25 [source:].

Also, Poland is a country that cherishes its traditions, culture and language, and because it is not as cosmopolitan as other European countries, there are not many other cultures that influence the Polish.

Love (not) from the first sight

This unique mentality, traditionalism and conservatism of the Polish nation has a huge effect on how they perceive brands. It is very difficult for a brand to engage a Polish customer in its content, but those companies that manage to win their trust get loyal customers who will stay with their brand for years to come. This is where the Polish conservatism kicks in - the Poles dislike changes, so once they choose a brand, they will stick with it as long as possible.

Buying habits

The relationship between your brand and the Polish audience will be affected not only by how they perceive your brand but also by their buying habits. The mastery of engaging the Polish audience will depend on how well you know those habits and adapt your content appropriately. It would be probably useful to be aware that Polish customers want to know a lot about a product and its features before they decide to make a purchase. The price is also a deciding factor in the buying process - the Poles are very price-conscious and want to get a good value for money.

It's not funny

Your content created for your English-speaking audience will not resonate as well with the Polish; it might not spark interest or just not be funny. Although Polish sense of humour is not miles away from the British one, humorous references to Doctor Who for example will definitely not get viral in Poland.


Creating interesting and helpful content for your audience means addressing the needs of your followers. Because the needs of your Polish-speaking audience will differ from the English-speaking one, it is worth taking a closer look at them and create a great source of information based on those needs.

For example, Polish customers might not be interested in your bestsellers in the UK, or they might like the same products but for other features than your UK customers appreciate. So if you sell, let's say, vacuum cleaners, in Poland a particular model will sell because it works silently, while in the UK because it's cordless. Your content needs to reflect that.

Make sure you do a proper research on the needs and preferences of your Polish-speaking audience. Check out what trends within your industry are currently popular in Poland. Don't worry, you don't need to spend thousands on hiring a market-research company, Transliteria can offer you a simple solution to find out what sells in Poland and what doesn't.


Translating your content into Polish only to make your Polish followers understand it is not enough. Your posts and blog entries should be transcreated or created from scratch in Polish so that they sound natural and authentic.

Some puns and jokes work well in one language but not in the other. The same applies to industry or culture-bound terms which might not be easily recognised by the Polish-speaking audience or be as popular among them.

Let's see this in an example. A recent Facebook post by Innocent refers to "Apple technology"- a brand that is recognised in Poland but isn't as popular as Hawlett Packard for example. 
A Google result for "Apple technology" keyword in Polish gives 4580 entries, while "HP technology" as many as 314,000. We can't simply substitute Apple with HP in this ad, because the whole pun will lose its point. The ad would have to come with a different - transcreated - comment. 

Finally, it's worth bearing in mind that Polish language is more formal than English, and the way you address your Polish followers will have a significant effect on how they will perceive your brand.

 So, what should I do now?

With all the information and advice you've just read and your own market research, you should be able to make an informed decision on how to adapt your content to the needs and expectations of your Polish audience.

For more tailored advice that addresses your specific needs, get in touch with me and find out how I can help you transcreate your social media content that will be authentic, interesting, fun and engaging.


  1. It works both sides of course.

  2. Indeed, and it applies to other languages as well. I used Polish as an example.