Social Media and Tribes #11: Leverage the language of the tribe

by Deepika Bajaj on September 8, 2010

Social Media is simply a conversation online. A Tribe is the people who are interested in sharing information on the same concern, interest or topic. And here is a new observation, it is possible that a tribe is a set of people who communicate in the same language in any given conversation. In my recent visit to Spain, I was interested to find out from the locals how they consume social media. One thing that sure showed up was that they were all on Facebook and that they had a competing site Tuenti which is the Spanish version of Facebook.

Before Facebook opened up its Spanish interface, Tuenti offered Spanish users to interact and communicate in Spanish and another very popular language Catalan. For those who are not aware, Catalan is the official language of the four regions of Catalunia which includes Barcelona. Now with the Spanish version supported on Facebook, many prefer it to keep in touch with their friends who are widely spread all over the world. The idea that Facebook had to move to popular language in this region for holding this community states clearly that language is another medium which forms Tribes.

Spain keeps being one of the top countries in terms of social networks. 77% of Internet users do visit a social network at least once every month, according to Nielsen. As of particular social networks, Facebook is quite strong in Spain, where 57% of net users visit this site at least once every month. An average Spaniard spends 4 hours every month on Facebook.

To launch the Spanish version, Facebook folks employed a brilliant strategy. They wanted high quality and wanted to make sure that users were not disappointed at the time of the launch. So, the company invited the users to correct the translations to launch Facebook en Español. Here is a blog post on how they did it: Facebook around the world.

The point is that language is an important medium for a tribe to be formed on social networks. And if you are able to engage them you are tapping into a resource far superior than any hired help. And on top of it, having a social media platform all set for company brands just in time for the FIFA world cup this year, where Spain emerged as a champion meant a profitable effort.

Time for some cool examples:

  • The New York Times used Facebook to track the most popular World Cup Players. They analyzed the volume and frequency of player mentions on Facebook each day and adjusted an infographic display of the leading players accordingly.
  • The Bud “Show your true colors Facebook app, with its own branded Facebook page, introduced a way to paint your face with your country’s colors.


Language is a powerful medium. On social networks, people want to express themselves based on who they are communicating to and how they prefer communicating. They want the ability to switch back and forth. This can be leveraged to help them connect to other people who might share similar interests (like football) that transcend language. Instantly, providing your users flexibility, expression and a broader community to have a conversation. So, language is important for nurturing and maintaining your social media tribes as internet knows no boundaries or geographies. Leverage language to empower and engage your tribe!

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