Week 11 | Consider Cultural Differences for Social Media
Posted by Natalie Rausch
I enjoyed Thatcher’s Understanding Digital Literacy Across Cultures. He laid the chapter out well, first defining digital literacy (“accessing, understanding, and appropriately using in specific communication situations”) and ethnocentrism (assuming that another culture will use digital media the same as your own), p. 169. He then presented an excellent example where he had to make adjustments in an email that was presented to two different cultures in the U.S. and Mexico. He then discussed the background for understanding how digital literacy relates to cultural conventions (through I/Other, Norms/Rules, and Public/Private degree of involvement). Lastly, he discussed how technical communicators can make adjustments to communication practices for other cultures through five strategies (determining the purpose of the communication, determining the audience, determining the information needs, determining organization strategies, and determining style preferences. Thatcher illustrates his strategies for transforming the Texas Tech University homepage into something that would be more suitable to an audience from Mexico.
Thatcher’s email and website examples are very thorough, and I agree that technical communicators should adapt their digital communication to account for cross-cultural differences. How, though, can technical communicators adapt digital communications for social media, and do these strategies apply?
One company’s blog, Global Partners International Translation Blog states that marketers must localize content for different cultures. Communication through social media in other cultures means determining what local social media networks to use, what languages to use, what topics are trending, and information about the culture. I think this is only the starting point because as the use of popular social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are exploding worldwide, technical communicators should realize that using social media effectively means more than just knowing which medium to use or translating words into another language. I think that Thatcher’s strategies apply to social media. Let’s say Coca Cola wants to have a presence on China’s most popular social media network. The company would have to think about its purpose, audience information needs, style preferences, and maybe to a lesser degree its organization strategies (as social media sites tend to have already set structures).
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