May 19, 2018

Facebook axes language targeting 

BUBKA - woman using Facebook on phone and laptop

In a not-so-distant past it was possible to organically target every Facebook post according to language. It was a neat little trick to make posts visible only to those who used Facebook in a certain language. Very convenient for international fan pages, essential for Belgian ones. Since May 18th, however, this option has disappeared.

According to Facebook, the company wants to eliminate every possible exclusion of certain groups of people. Instead, we now have the option to prioritize your reach to certain groups of people. A subtle shift from exclusion to inclusion.

This may be a good thing, as your organic reach can possibly grow, albeit this audience may not understand what your message is.

News feed targeting is still an option

We have always used double restrictions. News feed targeting limits the people who see the post in their newsfeed to people who use Facebook in a specific language. Now, if someone reacts to it, it is possible for friends who speak different languages see the post as well. If they continue to the page, they get to see all the posts.

Everything is bilingual

Facebook offers the option to create bilingual posts. You can adapt the automatic translation. Smart, but there is a catch: you can’t put any text in images, unless it’s also bilingual. We generally don’t advise this, because it reduces the appeal to Facebook users. Also: text can only cover 20% of the image. So that’d be 10% for each language to convey your message. That’s not a lot of space, is it?

Another bump in the road when it comes to automatic translations. You are able to adapt the automatically generated translation. Nevertheless, when you want to add a link to your post, you are unable to adapt the URL. As a workaround, we can deploy the content as ‘dark post’. It won’t appear on the page, but we can push the post to the right target audience through Facebook ads.

Accept the discrepancies

This limited language targeting only affects the organic reach of posts. Paid reach can still be targeted according to the regions Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. Yes, there will still be a small percentage of people who will see and read posts in the wrong language. But no matter how small, it will have a significant impact on engagement rates. Fans won’t react to a post in a different language. Or they’ll respond negatively.