Reality is, we’re not always paying attention to this cultural diversity. Actually, at times we may evening be offending or alienating other cultures, depending on how we craft our content.
So how can you create content that’s multicultural, and will allow for inclusive engagement to take place? I’m busting out my university degree (hello, International Development major and Intercultural Communication certificate!) to give you some tips on creating content that is cross-culture-friendly. Let’s get to it:
Write in plain language.
Plain language is expressing an idea in the simplest form. This doesn’t mean dumbing it down. Plain language is about communicating clearly, creating a better reading experience for online users, and delivering exactly what readers are looking for. Keep in mind that plain language means accessibility, and it’s more inclusive for those reading English as a second language, or those with disabilities.
Write like a global citizen.
If you’re sharing content, don’t just share what’s relevant within your own country or hemisphere—check out what other countries are doing. Share, comment and engage. You’ll learn something new, and create new bridges with new readers in the process.
Be aware that you can’t please everyone.
Consciously being culturally-sensitive is a fabulous habit. However, it’s also 2017, and people become easily offended. I’m not saying throw caution to the wind—use your better judgement. But also come to terms with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.
Consider the do’s and don’ts of engaging cross-culturally.
Be sure not to overstep your boundaries. It’s safe to steer clear from posting and/or sharing content that can be controversial. Political matters in countries or cultures which are foreign to your own are a good example of when to keep your opinion to yourself. Unless your post is as cut and dry as “choose love” or “#lovewins”—in that case, we all know the world needs a little more love.
Use your best judgement.
Your gut will tell you a lot. If you worry that something you wrote might be offensive, reconsider posting it. If your sentences seem like a thesaurus exploded all over them, simplify it. If you feel your content is only applying to a very narrow demographic of people, diversify it.
Mistakes will happen, and that’s okay.
I’ve dived into my fair share of foreign cultures, and there’s one thing I can promise you… it’s always going to be a little messy, and there are always going to be misinterpretations.
And that’s entirely okay.
Have you been called out online for unknowingly offending someone of another culture? Apologize for the misunderstanding, thank them for pointing out the blunder and/or alternate perspective, and move forward with a little more cultural awareness under your belt. It’s not the end of the world—you’re not the first, nor will you be the last to unknowingly offend someone. This is all part of the process.
My final word is this: we have an incredible opportunity to get to know our citizens from all over the world more intimately than ever over tools like social media. Let’s harness it, and make our potential audience pool the entire world, shall we?
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