Bilingual Facebook Pages: Talk to fans in their own language

When we first launched TuDiabetes, back in early 2007, there were no Facebook pages so to speak: only groups. Since Facebook was a growing space, we decided to create a Facebook Group for TuDiabetes, to help drive traffic to the main site where we wanted our community to “live”.

Eventually, in mid-2007 we launched EsTuDiabetes in Spanish (as a direct result of the need for a dedicated community in Spanish for Spanish-only people touched diabetes). Naturally, an EsTuDiabetes Facebook group followed, to cater to our Spanish-speaking members too…

Time passed and Facebook launched Facebook pages, leaving Groups in the dust in terms of features and flexibility (not TOTALLY customizable but a lot more than you could customize groups!) What did we do? We created a Facebook page for DHF, the Diabetes Hands Foundation (the Diabetes Hands Foundation is the 501c3 nonprofit that runs both, TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes).

Before we knew it, we had a bit of a marketing outreach nightmare in our hands. 3 separate places on Facebook were only a small part of the sites through which we were reaching out to develop our member base. The following list is far from comprehensive, but gives you an idea of the number and kinds of sites we had a somewhat active presence in by the start of 2009:
* Twitter
* Facebook
* YouTube
* MySpace
* Tumblr DHF blog
* Vimeo
* CurrentTV
* 4 different blogs on Blogger
* etc.

We took a hard look at each of these channels and trimmed the fat: the ones that were not a significant source of traffic, we stopped updating (we didn’t remove our accounts there, because after all they are still valid and useful links pointing back to our sites and that took some time to build -plus it doesn’t cost anything to maintain them up).

In Facebook our strategy resulted in the closing of the groups, consolidating all members in the page. We first closed the English group (the TuDiabetes group), announcing very soon before the closure that we were inviting people to join the Facebook page. We reminded people a couple more times and eventually closed the group. We then repeated the exercise with the Spanish group and eventually had about 70% or so of the original members that were in the groups join the Facebook page.

From that point on, we started updating the Facebook page alone. A new challenge was that we now had members that spoke both languages. The way we address is in one of two ways:
1) We try to keep a healthy balance of comment wall posts in each language, so as to not alienate fans who don’t speak English or Spanish. If we see an opportunity to recreate (translate) content from one site to the other one, so as to be able to offer the same opportunities to members who speak both languages, which leads to…
2) As much as possible, we write our wall posts in both languages. If there is a comparable page, video, etc. that we can offer to both groups, we include the two links in the post. If not, at least we include a translation that explains what the post says, again so as to not alienate people who may not speak the language of the first half of the post.

Using Ning to Connect your Community

Last week, I had the honor to participate in a Webinar facilitated by Techsoup to share with a group of nonprofit/library representatives who wanted to learn more about how to use Ning to connect their community. You can browse through the Powerpoint presentation below and, if you want more, you can listen to the entire webinar here.