When it comes to microblogging, Twitter is king. However, according to this article on PC World, its sovereignty is being threatened in several Asian countries by upstart microblogging service Plurk, which offers the support for local languages and alphabets that Twitter largely lacks. Right now, Plurk is offered in 33 languages, including English, Chinese, Russian, and Hindi. It also offers support for European languages like Catalan and Irish. Compare that to Twitter, which only offers 5 languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese.
According to PC World, Twitter founder Biz Stone has stated that company finds it difficult to offer localized services for Asian languages, which is why Japanese is the only Asian language Twitter supports.
However, Plurk appears to have overcome these obstacles with no problems. The company handles translations by enlisting teams of its users to translate. In PC World, Plurk’s founder Alvin Woon noted that this system made the translation process surprisingly fast, saying :
“When Plurk first launched, we had a translation system where the whole system was translated into 25 different languages in two weeks, and it’s all done by our users…I’ve been surprised at how many people want to translate Plurk into their own language.”
Overall, Twitter still gets much more traffic than Plurk. However, looking at the respective popularity of each service in different countries illustrates what a profound effect local language support can have. For example, according to PC World, Plurk beats out Twitter for the title of top-ranking microblogging site in Taiwan, and it is also extremely popular in Indonesia and Malaysia.
The lesson here is simply that customers want to use products and services that speak their language. Translation services are important for international companies because they help increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.