Global Lingo Blog

Arabic climbs the social-media language scale

The rise of social media can’t be ignored, from the mundane Facebook updates on the health of the cat to political campaigns for change in North Africa organised via Twitter and even the recent riots in the UK arranged using BlackBerry’s secure messaging services. What all this means is really anyone’s guess, and plenty of people are taking lots of guesses at the moment.

What the social-media explosion means above all is that there is now lots content out there and the majority is no longer produced by traditional media outlets. No longer do people wait for the evening paper or the 6 o’clock news. They receive instant updates via their network and chosen social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc.

How does this affect business?

Businesses have always been run on information, whether it’s the news that a competitor is moving into a new market, there’s a flood in a country which you rely on for supplies (which happened recently in Thailand) or that there’s a business opportunity available. Business used to work in isolation from all this: you read what was happening in the newspaper or industry journal, always after the actual decision/disaster/opportunity had happened.

With social media you know as soon as it’s happening and can react instantly if needed. The issue is that this information is no longer on a local scale; it’s on a global scale. So how are you going to gather business information in languages you can’t understand? Events are unfolding around the world which will and do affect your business, so having access to this information is more vital than ever.

According to a study by Paris-based agency Semiocast, out of approximately 180 million tweets posted on a daily basis in October 2011, 2.2 million of them were posted in Arabic. That’s a huge increase and a clear sign that more and more non-English content is coming online.

In a global economy companies need to have a global outlook, and that includes how to handle information coming in other languages. How is your company coping with this deluge of information?

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