Tweeting in English and Spanish: Do’s and Don’ts

Twitter conversation in English and Spanish

New contributor Rosemari Ochoa helps us navigate the world of multi-lingual tweeting. While she talks specifically about Twitter in Spanish and English, the same rules would apply to most multi-lingual outreach online. Take it away, Rosemari:

Tweeting in English and Spanish? Here are some quick tips to help you avoid all-too-common pitfalls:

DO know your audience. The best way to know your audience is to be part of their community. And when that happens, Twitter is an excellent platform to engage with people and organizations in the language that works best for them.

Remember: just because someone’s background includes a Spanish-speaking country or they speak Spanish, it doesn’t mean Spanish is their preferred language for Twitter or news content. For instance, if you assume that you must tweet in Spanish if you want to reach Latinos, you may not get you the results you are looking for.

DON’T fake it until you make it. Ideally, you’re already part of the community you’re trying to reach (see above). While that’s not always possible, Twitter is not the place to try to fake authenticity—especially across cultures and languages. Don’t try to be something you’re not, don’t be afraid to ask questions and defer to others regardless of the language.

DO write well. Have you heard “this person is a native speaker, so they should be able to tweet for our organization in Spanish”? If so, remember all the native English speakers at your job, and how few of them you’d want at the reins of the organization’s Twitter feed. Quality writers help get people to read—and pay attention—to tweets.

This means you should “mind your ñs”: take the time you need to ensure your grammar and punctuation are correct. Not only can it look lazy and unprofessional to have an accent on the wrong letter, but it can easily change the connotation of your message.

DON’T translate word-for-word. You should be comfortable in Spanish to translate the sentiment without translating word-for-word. Use the dictionary or translator as a tool (like the AP style guide is for me in English), but don’t rely on it. If you have to depend on translations, don’t tweet in that language. And don’t ever tweet something out that you don’t comprehend—whether it’s the tweet itself or page you’re linking to—regardless of the language.

DO pull news sources from various places. If you’re following a particular event or topic, look for stories in both languages from your favorite media outlets. Let people know you have something to say in the appropriate language by asking questions or commenting on each story.

DON’T be afraid to duplicate. It’s okay to send out the same tweet in both languages.

And DO always, always, always try your best to be helpful. You know what’s helpful? Providing someone with a resource in the language they prefer, so that they can read and share it.

Have other tips about tweeting in English and Spanish? Know any bilingual rock stars on Twitter? Share them with me in the comments below or on Twitter at @rosemariochoa.

Written by
Rosemari Ochoa
View all articles
Leave a reply