This is a practical post on posting to social media for audiences that speak more than one language. I work with many organisations in Wales that post bilingually, and I thought this may be helpful.
It’s just tips from my own trial and error and I’m aware that it’ll date, as Facebook and Twitter update they way we use them so often.
Hopefully any updates will remove some of the glitches and extra steps needed to post in multiple languages.
Posting in multiple languages on social media: the lowdown
Here’s the gist far as I can see it. I’m only mentioning Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for now (but I’ll look into how people post bilingually on Snapchat, Instagram and Linkedin another day).
You can add lots of languages by adding closed captions:
a) with an SRT file (which is a text file format that has all the subtitle text with instructions on timing)
b) or by manually transcribing within YouTube, which is nice and easy (and also a quick way to create an SRT file)
- You can add text in multiple languages on Facebook posts. The reader will see the text in the language that they have set their Facebook to.
- It’s tricky to add different images to correspond to each version of your text (e.g if you had text in Welsh, you’d want your accompanying meme text in Welsh also). However, it is possible.
- You can add only one video to your multiple versions of text. Even that is a bit of a faff, instructions are below.
- You can, however, add multiple language subtitles (closed captioning), which will display in the language the Facebook user viewing the video has set as their preference.
- A neat and useful way to add captions to Facebook videos is by uploading an SRT file.
- You don’t have enough room to post bilingually within a tweet, and it doesn’t make sense. There is no option to display your tweet in the language of the Twitter user.
- You can’t add closed captioning to videos. If you want subtitles, you’ll have to bake them in – by this I mean you’ll have to use some video editing software to add the subtitles manually to the video file. This is a massive pain in the arse.
Details! Posting video bilingually
- First I upload my video, then I manually create closed captions, by listening to the video, and stopping it and transcribing each sentence. YouTube times it as you go along and it’s very intuitive.
How to add closed captions to your YouTube video
- This creates an SRT file attached to your video. Or many, if you’ve captioned in multiple languages. (In my case, I transcribe in English and then send the file to my lovely Welsh translator to create a Welsh version).
- You can download your SRT file to use elsewhere, like on Facebook. Hooray! Go to your video in Video Manager, find the closed captions and there’s an option to download in ‘Actions’.
- First, enable your Facebook page to let you post in multiple languages. This is the easy bit. The instructions are on Facebook.
Facebook settings to post in multiple languages
- Write your post text in multiple languages first (when you upload the video first, you don’t get the option for multiple languages).
Add links and everything as this will be annoying if you later try to edit (when I go go back after uploading the video, I’m only able to edit the English, not the Welsh).
- Once you’re happy with the text in all languages, attach your video file.
- Make sure you don’t publish, hit ‘save draft’.
- Then when the video has processed, look at it. Click the edit post button, and go to ‘captions’.
- Upload your SRT files. Be careful about how you name them! They must be like this:
Or here’s the full list of languages for SRT files on Facebook
So if you downloaded from YouTube, then rename your file before you upload it.
- Now you’re ready to publish.
I love Twitter, but in this instance, it’s not very helpful at all.
If you know a way to upload an SRT file to a Twitter video, or to just use the SRT file to add it directly as subtitles in your video file – please let me know! I’ve downloaded so many apps and tried a thousand ways but I’m stuck with manually adding each sentence into my video in iMovie, which is time consuming and makes me want to drink too much whisky.