Twitter is a vital tool for all marketing and PR departments, whether agencies or in-house teams, but planning an international campaign that uses Twitter can be a logistical headache.

Twitter tools such as Hootsuite and TweetDeck allow marketers to schedule tweets and collaborate in teams making the job physically easier. For international campaigns, issues can arise around selecting the right country and, of course, the right language.

Luckily, Twitter being Twitter, there’s a load of data available about tweeting around the world. There are also loads of people who’ve spent a lot of time putting together websites that correlate Twitter activity worldwide in real time.

My favourite is A World of Tweets, which has beautiful real time maps and great data visualisation. This, and other sites, can be used to help plan and target Twitter campaigns where your tweets are translated and timed to hit the right areas of the world at the right time and in the correct languages.

Where are the largest volume of tweets coming from internationally and what languages should be used?

A translated Twitter campaign

Unsurprisingly, the largest volumes of tweets come from the USA, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re all in English!

Worldwide tweet volume (since November 2010):

  • USA – 27%
  • Brazil – 23%
  • Indonesia – 11%
  • UK – 7%
  • Netherlands – 3%

European tweet volume:

  • UK – 31.12%
  • Netherlands – 15.36%
  • Spain – 13.39%
  • Russia – 9.07%
  • France – 6.85%

Asian tweet volume:

  • Indonesia – 50.17%
  • Japan – 13.67%
  • Malaysia – 10.32%
  • Turkey – 6.57%
  • Thailand – 4.16%

African tweet volume:

  • South Africa – 41.14%
  • Nigeria – 26.58%
  • Egypt – 9.78%
  • Ghana – 7.19%
  • Kenya – 4.42%

Which languages should you translate tweets into?

For a worldwide Twitter campaign, we’d recommend having your tweets translated into Brazilian Portuguese, even though Brazil only has the second largest volume of tweets. This is because, in the US, there will be a very diverse number of languages from Latin American Spanish to Chinese and everything in-between.

For campaigns in the US, we’d recommend researching your market very carefully to ensure you hit the right languages and, obviously, the US will have a very large volume of English speaking tweeters.

Next in volume is Indonesia, but translating your tweets into Indonesian will only be worthwhile if the small country is a specific target for you.

For European twitter campaigns, English is clearly the strongest language but Dutch, Spanish, Russian and French will cover a fair amount of the continent.

Have them proofread and allow for links!

Though tweets are only 140 characters long they can travel around the internet very, very quickly; so can any errors. That’s why, as with any other published translation, we recommend an additional proofread by a third party translator.

It is also a good idea to remember that translated text can expand and contract, sometimes by up to 25%. So the fact that your tweet, before translation, is a perfect 140 characters in English may well change once translated.

It’s also general good practice to leave your tweets slightly shorter than the 140 character maximum because that makes them far more likely to be re-tweeted, as you intended.

And don’t forget that your link will also count towards your twitter characters! Using a URL shortener is good practice too, as it ensures that all your links are a uniform length. It can also help you track how effective your campaign has been.