Switzerland is famously diverse with four distinct language communities (German, French, Italian, Romansh). But this is not a special case… other multilingual countries in the world include The Netherlands, Belgium, Moldova, Russia, Canada, and India.
How should you run a Facebook advertisement campaign with language targeting in a country like Switzerland?
Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to doing this depending on whether you have a monolingual business (you operate in one language) or a multilingual business.
Most businesses start off being monolingual. A new company in Switzerland is going to be established in one language, with their marketing communications (website, social media, ads) being in that language. Some businesses by nature are monolingual. I operate in English because that is the language that I expect to communicate in with my clients.
In most cases, geographic targeting will solve the problem. If I’m a French-speaking consultant in Switzerland, there will not be a problem for me to run ads in French when targeting French-speaking Geneva. But what about running ads in French when targeting the city of Fribourg, which is only 60% French-speaking?
Facebook’s language targeting is here to save the day. This is not a new feature, but an often overlooked one. Simply specify the language of the audience you want to target when creating a Facebook audience. If doing this in Fribourg, you more than halve the potential reach from 710,000 to 340,000 Facebook users – cutting waste and ensuring that you are paying to deliver ads only to people who are most comfortable in that language.
In fact, you can even consider this feature in monolingual countries! This is a low effort optimisation that can help you out-compete in a highly competitive environment. Even targeting for English in the UK reduces the reach from 43 million to 42 million users. This is potentially not an insignificant saving particularly if you believe that your ads resonate poorly with users that Facebook does not identify as English-speaking.
And how does Facebook determine a user’s language?
The nuances of Facebook’s language targeting is why users with both browser and Facebook languages set to one language may occasionally see content in another language. This is especially the case in multilingual countries.
The biggest influence is the user’s interface language – both the language settings on their web browser and their Facebook.
Next is the user’s Facebook profile information – if they’ve identified themselves as being able to speak French and English, then Facebook’s algorithm will assume that they can understand content (including ads) in both French and English.
Finally, Facebook’s algorithm will consider the user’s behaviour. This is the content that the user likes, comments, and shares on Facebook.
If you run an international shop with a multilingual website such as in WordPress, you will need a more advanced solution.
For a small number of languages and countries, and for the greatest degree of control, you can create multiple ad sets for each language, and then apply the relevant language targeting above.
For a larger number of languages and countries, you can do this dynamically using Facebook’s “Multi-language, multi-country dynamic ads“. This can also be achieved via the relevant API. On the organic side of things, you may also want to consider the Facebook Global Pages structure for your Facebook presence.
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