Improve your social media or website accessibility in seven steps

Since Hindi Diwas—a day that celebrates the adoption of Hindi as one of the official languages of India—was observed on 14th September, we have rounded up a list of things Indian internet channels and brands can do to foster multilingual accessibility for Hindi speaking users.

Indian brands and other internet platforms predominantly utilise English, the global intermediary language, leaving non-English audiences out of the bubble. While Instagram and Facebook have a tool for translating comments, captions, and profiles, the algorithm is riddled with loopholes and errors. Users often complain of incorrect translations getting generated and glitches occurring related to hashtag. Lexical errors are also produced by web-based Google machine translations.

According to the 2011 Census, only 10.67% of the total Indian population speaks English – confining social media interactions to an inconsiderable population. In contrast, 57.09% of the population is recorded to be speakers of Hindi which makes bridging the language gap on social media the need of the hour.

Moreover, most of India prefers using Hindi for search, says Google in their report titled “Year in Search — India: Insights for brands” (2019). The report also outlines that the country has experienced a 270% growth year-on-year in voice searches. Consumers across categories are using voice searches to find information and discover content.

To cope with the digital consumption rise of Hindi, here are seven quick tips that YOU can follow to overcome the multilingual challenge and reach the Hindi speaking audience:

Pick a platform

Decide what platform do you want to work with and make more inclusive. Is it a Website, Instagram, Facebook or YouTube?

Choose the right platform, think about what kind of content you curate.

Know your audience

As a brand or channel, try to understand if you would like to broaden your marketing strategy by linguistically reaching your audience. Know who your audience is. This point sounds obvious, but it is useful to know where you are expending your resources and time.

Use surveys and market research to understand who your audience is.

Set a goal, think about leveraging your reach

Set a goal and be persistent with the way you market your content. Decide what language you would like to engage with alongside English. Discern whether you would want to take a regional approach to your marketing or would you want to stick to Hindi only. A regional model is more complex, it would require more resources and time.

Don’t rely on machine translations

If you are working on a website, make your own translations.

It might be tempting to copy and paste your texts in English into Google Translate, but don’t do that. Avoid popping google translated texts onto your website.

Your audience should be able to engage with high-quality content, and machine translation is not something you should rely on. It’s just far too risky, you wouldn’t want to lose your credibility. It’s far better to have an expert in charge of translating the exact message of each post.

Hire a translator

Hiring a translator is more reliable than Google Translate. Make sure your translator is knows the ins and outs of social media lexical trends and is able to retain the meaning of the original text.

SEO is king

Do a SEO survey. Use Google Trends to find out Native Keywords.

Use keywords and metatags to improve your reach. Metatags are essentially short content descriptors that tell search engines what a web page is about. Set a translated version of your metatag and keywords.

Add subtitles and transcripts in Hindi

For videos, add subtitles and transcripts in Hindi. Subtitling converts spoken dialogue into written text that is rolled out as the video plays. Whereas, transcripts outline a full text-based version of the material that was originally produced in the video. Both could facilitate user comprehension. Decide which one suits your content the best depending on the resources you have.