How Localizing Content Increased Foursquare’s Traffic

In an increasingly global marketplace, are you localizing your content or merely translating it?

Localizing content goes beyond the literal translation of words; it takes into account the nuances of each culture. Even a photo you use on your English-language site could be viewed as inappropriate or offensive in another setting. Localization can increase traffic to your site by creating a better user experience for international customers and building a more engaging, global brand.

For example, take a look at Foursquare, an application that allows people to check in anywhere they go and get tips from others who have been there before. The Foursquare community is made up of 50 million people and 1.7 million businesses.

In order to expand their business beyond U.S. borders, Foursquare quickly realized it needed to add more languages besides English and work on localizing its content. Because its customers are found worldwide and its application is all about local places, Foursquare wanted to be able to connect with each demographic in its native language.

To start, Foursquare identified 11 target languages based on interest and market opportunity. Due to the application’s complex proxy architecture, staff were concerned about finding or creating a translation management platform that would be robust enough to handle the multiple scripts and apps that power the Foursquare platform.

Foursquare struggled to find a speedy, reliable, and efficient translation system that could localize its content and expand its app’s reach to users around the world.

By using Smartling’s cloud-based translation management platform, Foursquare saved time and money by not having to create its own proprietary system. It also reaped the following benefits:

  • Within weeks of launching the first five languages—French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, and German—Foursquare saw a major increase in sign-ups and usage.
  • Over the next year, six more languages—Bahasa Indonesia, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Thai, and Turkish—were launched, which were even more successful than the first five languages.
  • By leveraging its own community, Foursquare was able to motivate volunteers to edit, review, and improve translations, thus making translation and content localization a team effort that made content more relevant to each user’s location.

By localizing its content, Foursquare was able to realize rapid growth, create a stronger connection with its customers, and improve the user experience for international users. Over the course of a year, the company seamlessly increased its languages from one to 12. Today, Foursquare continues to work with Smartling to expand its global reach.

As you can see from Foursquare’s success, localizing content doesn’t have to be a headache. While outdated methods employ heavy-handed, translation workflows that require lots of time and spreadsheets, Smartling allows you to manage everything in the cloud in a unique management platform that produces fast and localized translations.

Image source: Flickr


About Amy Rigby

Amy Rigby is a freelance writer and world traveler who divides her time mostly between the San Francisco Bay Area and Cusco, Peru. She has a fascination with words, language acquisition and all things animals. Her writing specialities are marketing, travel, photography and technology.