How Hootsuite Outsmarted Its Translation Frustrations


Five years after Hootsuite first showed the world a better way to manage social media, the pioneering platform had already attracted 8 million users. The Vancouver-based company suspected that it had only scratched the surface of its global potential, however.

Executives knew how important localized content would be in an industry as personal as social media and moved quickly to translate Hootsuite’s website, product dashboard, mobile apps, and marketing materials. But as their Web Operations team soon found out, orchestrating all the underlying tasks and tools was no easy task.

A Troubling Trend

For starters, corralling content from every corner of the organization literally became a full-time job. The team’s dedicated Translation Coordinator exclusively oversaw the manual export and import processes connecting business stakeholders to linguistic professionals. And as corporate content traveled this months-long maze of requests, approvals, and uploads, the status of any single translation request was often a mystery. Even after navigating this painful path, though, translation quality was no guarantee. Some days, Hootsuite’s regional stakeholders would openly wonder whether the team’s language services vendor had been using machine translation behind the scenes. And with more languages and more content already in the pipeline, localization leader Colleen Fehr just couldn’t picture a scenario where the current strategy would scale effectively. “Our (previous) translation process was completely manual and often painful,” said Fehr, Project Manager of Web Growth at Hootsuite. “And since we never knew exactly which issues were contributing to translator confusion, quality improvement was always an uphill battle.”

A More Sustainable Stance

Eight years after company’s market debut, things are looking a little different around Hootsuite headquarters. The leading social media platform now confidently supports 15 million global users in 16 languages with Fehr spending just two hours each week at the helm of her translation management dashboard. Instead of manually extracting website text, that content is now gathered automatically. Instead of tracking translation requests over email, content owners are encouraged to monitor progress through real-time reporting tools. And instead of anxiously awaiting translation errors, regional stakeholders now proudly stand behind Hootsuite’s localized content.

So how exactly did the team usher in this new era of quality, efficiency, and transparency? Find out the full story.