Multilingual Social Media in London and New York

Multilingual Social Media in London and New York

Over the past few years, adoption of social media has increased substantially and revolutionised the way that people across the globe communicate. The reach of global social networks is now more than 22% of the world population and growing daily [Source: We Are Social, January 2012].

A Pew Research Center report released in 2012 analysed the state of social media globally based a survey of 21 nations. They found the majority of internet users in Mexico, Brazil, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Russia, and India use social media.

Businesses are realising that they can reach new markets by harnessing the power of global social media and many are taking steps to increase their international presence on social networks. According to a study conducted by Columbia Business School Center on Global Brand Leadership, “85% of large corporations are now using social networks as a marketing tool”. However, businesses are faced with huge challenges when entering new markets, particularly where consumers may be communicating in many different languages.

The rise of multiculturalism has meant that the world’s largest cities now have huge, ethnically diverse communities. These communities often retain their own culture and language and this can be seen in the way that users are communicating online in two of the world’s largest cities – London and New York.

Data experts from University College London have mapped the geographical location of around 3.3 million tweets sent by users based in London. While more than 90% of tweets were in English, their work detected 66 other languages, including the likes of Swahili, Haitian Creole and the Philippine language of Tagalog.

There also appeared to be patterns in the distribution of languages across London with French language tweets (red) appearing to exist in high density pockets around the centre while towards north London, more Turkish tweets (blue) appear. They found Arabic tweets (green) are most common around Edgware Road and there are pockets of Russian tweets (pink) in parts of central London.


The same team from UCL performed a similar analysis of 8.5 million geo-located tweets in New York between January 2010 and February 2013. The findings were also fascinating.

While 94% of tweets were found to be in English in New York (slightly more than the 90% of tweets which were identified as being in English in London), tweets were recorded in 33 other languages.

Midtown Manhattan was found to be hugely multilingual – which along with JFK International Airport had the most linguistically diverse tweets.

Specific languages were popular in different areas such as Brighton Beach (Russian), the Bronx (Spanish) and towards Newark (Portuguese) indicating similar language clusters by area seen in London.


Some global organisations are meeting the challenges of multilingual social media monitoring head on by employing experts in social media and language specialists to work together on monitoring and where possible managing social media interactions.

However, many organisations – particularly ones that operate in mainly domestic markets, don’t see the need for multilingual social media measurement, monitoring or management. These organisations are missing out on key local markets by not tapping into the existing information on customer’s perceptions of their brand.

This is where TranslateMedia can help. By drawing on our network of over 6,500 in-country professionals, our team can deliver the analysis that you need to monitor and manage local markets, as well as multilingual domestic markets online. As preferred supplier to some of the world’s biggest marketing and advertising agencies we know what is required for successful monitoring, measurement and management of brands online.

Need help with your multilingual social media campaign? Contact us now at our London or New York offices for more information.

Written by Yusuf Bhana
Yusuf Bhana
Yusuf is Head of Digital at TranslateMedia. He has an interest in how technology can help businesses achieve their marketing objectives. He's been working in digital marketing and web development since 2001 across a wide range of industries and clients.

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