Building real-life virtual connections across the globe


With the goal of helping global users build real-life virtual connections, it was crucial that IMVU offered their social network in their users’ native language. IMVU is the world’s largest avatar-based 3D social network. Over five million people from all over the world visit IMVU each month - 40% from the US, 60% from the rest of the world - to chat, play games, and make new friends.

The Challenge: Starting translations without a dedicated localization manager

It was up to Kevin Henshaw, IMVU’s President and COO, to find a technology solution that could streamline the translation process and enable high-quality translations without adding more work for their team.

  • No localization manager. IMVU had no plans to add headcount to carry out their localization strategy. Their localization project lead - a product manager - needed a way to coordinate translations across stakeholders without taking time away from her day-to-day job.
  • Source content living in different platforms. IMVU’s multi-channel approach to reaching users required a cohesive content experience. Whether users logged onto the social network through their mobile app, web app, or website, they needed to be able to view the same content in their preferred language and the experience had to be seamless.
  • Heavy user traffic on their social network. As the number 1 site visited by teens in 2017 - beating YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram - IMVU had to guarantee their translations were up-to-date, consistent, and available, no matter the time of day or day of the week.

The Solution: Smartling

Using Smartling's Translation Cloud, IMVU realized the following benefits:

  • No need to add headcount. With a powerful TMS and a dedicated customer success manager, IMVU was able to localize their content with just one product manager in charge. Localization became just a 2x/week responsibility to check on translation statuses and request new translations, rather than a full-time job.
  • 15 localized websites delivered to users worldwide. After a one-time configuration of their website on Smartling’s web proxy, IMVU automatically pushed new source content into Smartling’s TMS, ready for distribution to translators. IMVU continuously deploys translations as they are completed across all localized websites, with 99.99% uptime.
  • High-quality translations across content types. Using a mix of volunteer translators and Smartling Language Services, IMVU was able to provide visual context for visibility into the brand and content layout. Intuitive project management tools allowed translators to submit comments and complete projects within deadlines. For their Korean launch across their apps, Smartling Language Services turned around Korean translations for over 20,000 words under four weeks, with widespread approval from native Korean internal reviewers. Within 2 months, IMVU saw a 45% increase in their iOS app registrations and a 43% increase in Android app registrations.

Going forward, IMVU plans on launching their social network into Japanese or Chinese, expanding further into the Asian market. They also plan on translating more features to create an ever-more real-life experience for users around the world.