Global Social Media Usage and the Language Factor by Lionbridge

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 Global Social Media Usage
   and the Language Factor
Written by: Dr. Nitish Singh (St. Louis
        University), Dr. Kevin Lehnert
    (Grand Valley State University) &
     Kathleen Bostick (VP Lionbridge)
                                   © Lionbridge 2010
                                  © Nitish Singh 2010
                                 © Kevin Lehnert 2010




         This paper is based on Lionbridge Survey Data of
         approximately 3,800 global social media users.
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   Sponsored by
Lionbridge and Executive Education in Web Globalization, John Cook School of
Business, Saint Louis University.




       Introduction
       Today, we are seeing the democratization of information on the web as global
       online consumers become publishers of content rather than just passive readers
       (Evans, 2008). This trend is known as consumer-generated media (CGM) or user-
       generated content (UGC) — both refer to “content being created 24-hours a day
       online on blogs, message boards, social networks like Facebook and platforms like
       Twitter” (Swedowsky, 2009). Social media is diffusing rapidly among consumers
       worldwide and its commercialization is also on the rise. Marketers are now better
       understanding social media, not just for reaching global audiences, but also for
       engaging them in a targeted fashion, using emerging tools (e.g., Google Analytics,
       TweetDeck, Omniture, Scoopler, Tealium) to measure social media efforts
       (VanBoskirk, 2009). Leveraging social media commercially allows companies to
       create brand communities and crowdsourcing models, gain consumer insights,
       enhance product/brand awareness, improve search engine optimization efforts,
       reduce customer acquisition and service costs, and optimize overall marketing and
       communication efforts (Scott, 2009; Stelzner, 2010; Weinberg, 2009).
       For example, Best Buy is using its Twitter account, “twelpforce,” to allow its
       employees to answer customer queries and launch promotions; Yahoo has
       launched “Yahoo Pinoy Connect,” a community site catering to the specific
       needs of the Filipino community and populated by local content, user-generated
       content, and localized social tools; and Dell has leveraged Twitter as a sales tool
       resulting in $3 million in sales through 2009. Forrester Research forecasts that
       social media in the US will be the fastest-growing interactive channel with a
       34 percent Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2009 and 2014
       (VanBoskirk, 2009). This shows the growing interest of corporations in leveraging
       social media for commercial applications. In fact, according to a recent report
       by MarketingSherpa (2010), companies will see significant increases in their
       budgets for social media marketing, regardless of industry affiliation. The report
       also estimates that the bulk of social media marketing budgets (60 percent) are
       allocated toward activities like blogging, content development, and social media
       monitoring.
       From a consumer point of view, social media use is surging. Consumers use
       social media not only for self-expression or connecting with family and friends,




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but also for researching products and companies and sharing their consumption
experiences. Some of the top reasons for consumers to follow companies on social
media sites include: seeking information on sales and specials, new products and
services, and learning about company culture and environmental responsibility
policies (MarketingSherpa, 2010). Of the total estimated 625 million active Internet
users, two-thirds have already joined social networks as of 2009 (UM Social Media
Tracker Wave 4, 2009). Nielsen Research estimates for 2009 show overall Twitter
traffic is up 1500 percent over 2008, and Facebook traffic is up by 200 percent over
2008 (Swedowsky, 2009).
However, social media usage is not consistent around the world. Recent social
media usage data and trends show that globally there are significant differences
in how social media is used, content is created, and “crowd wisdom” is shared.
Furthermore, with sixty percent of the online population being non-English
speakers, Chinese is now the second most popular language used over the
Internet, with 407 million online users, compared to 495 million English online
users (internetworldstats.com). This multilingual and cultural diversity on the web
has created a multilingual social media landscape, with unique global usage and
consumption patterns (King 2010).

Goal of this Paper
Understanding how social media is delivered, consumed, and leveraged around
the world can help global marketers to better develop, position, and deliver
global content to achieve social media marketing objectives, such as increasing
website traffic and lead generation, improving multilingual search engine
visibility, increasing global brand awareness, and most importantly, enhancing
global revenues. Thus, the broad objective of this whitepaper is to explore global
differences in social media diffusion and usage. The paper will analyze patterns of
social media usage among global social media users from more than 20 countries
and explore how online users are translating social media content for global
consumption.
More specifically, the whitepaper presents the results of a large-scale, 2010 global
survey of approximately 3,800 social media users exploring:
 » How users from different countries use social media for business and
   personal use
 » The most popular global social media platforms, in which countries
 » The top languages used to generate global social media content
 » User preferences for English versus local language with regard to
   social media content



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 » Global user propensity to translate social media content
 » Methods used by consumers to translate social media content

Emerging Global Social Media Trends
 Consumers
 The emerging data on global social media usage by country suggest there are
 significant differences in usage of social media type and form, and in the way
 consumers interact with social media. A survey of 23,200 active Internet users
 in 38 countries (Spring 2009 by UM Social Media Tracker - WAVE 4) found the
 following:
 » Between the ages of 16 and 54, Danes have the highest penetration of social
   media, followed by Malaysia, Norway, and Sweden.
 » However, the US leads in terms of just the number of social media users.
 » In most countries analyzed in this study, watching videos seems to be the most
    dominant activity, but cross-national differences in involvement and usage are
    still apparent.
 » In the US, online video watching is the most popular social media activity,
    followed by visiting social networking pages of friends, and reading blogs
    (UM Social Media Tracker - WAVE 4, 2009).
 » Like some other large-scale surveys, the UM Social Media WAVE 4 survey found
   Germans to be cautious and late adopters of major social media platforms,
   with the number of video watchers actually falling from 77.1 percent in 2007
   to 74.1 percent in 2009, while social networking steadily increased since 2007.
 » Based on the same survey, Chinese and South Koreans tend to be the early
   adopters in this market and actually lead in terms of blogging, with a higher
   percentage of people reading and writing blogs than watching videos.
 » An interesting note here about Brazil is that social networking has remained
   constant since 2007, but the blog readership has fallen by 28 percent.
 » Further, according to the WAVE 4 of the UM Social Media Survey, India has
   recorded steady growth across multiple social media platforms, especially
   social networking activities.
 » Finally, according to the WAVE 4, an overarching global social media trend is
   that social media platforms are becoming more multi-media savvy, with
   convergence of photos, videos, music, and widgets.




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 A large-scale Global Web Index survey of almost 32,000 global social media
 users (between 2008 and 2009) tried to delve deeper into the motivations
 behind social media usage (Smith 2010). Some of the findings highlight how
 people use social media in different countries. For example, in the Asia-Pacific
 region:
 » China: staying in touch with a friend is the most frequent use of social media
 » Japan: people ranked researching products to buy as the number one social
   media activity
 » South Korea: staying up-to-date on news and events was the most popular
 » India: researching for work topped the social media usage motivation
 » Australia: staying in touch with friends was the most common activity

 It is clear that within the Asia-Pacific region, there seem to be emerging
 differences in motivations behind the functional use of social media. The same
 Global Index Survey 2009 results from Europe show that:
 » U.K.: researching product purchases is the most common motivation behind
   social media use
 » France: staying in touch with friends is the dominating motivation
 » The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Russia: staying current on news and
   events leads the way (Smith, 2010)

 Furthermore, in the Americas:
 » Brazil’s motivation to use social media was unique and focused on
   “researching how to do things.”
 » The US, like some other countries, ranked researching products to buy as
   the number one motivation of social media activity.

 Based on the Global Web Index Survey, Smith (2010) anticipates that the
 passive impact of social media will be bigger than its active impact. “Passive
 impact of social media related to the exposure and aggregation of opinions,
 reviews, ratings and recommendations that impact all global social media
 users, regardless of their personal social media involvement (Smith 2010).”
 Furthermore, findings from the Global Web Index survey point to an emerging
 reality that digital networks are overtaking the size of our face-to-face
 networks. For example, according to Smith (2010), the average US face-to-face
 network is 21.4 and social online network is 49.3.



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 Another recent study by Belleghem (2010) of InSites Consulting surveyed 2,884
 social media users from 14 countries, across major geographic regions during
 2009-2010, to understand social media usage patterns. This survey found that
 Facebook is one of the most well-known social networking sites (83 percent
 of the sample were aware of Facebook) followed by MySpace and Twitter. An
 interesting analysis by the InSites Survey is the categorization of social media
 users into four quadrants, based on “social media log in frequency” and “social
 media activity frequency”; the four social media user types are:
 » Addicts: high log-in and high activity frequency
 » Voyeurs: high log-in, but low activity frequency
 » Special Occasions: low log-in, but high activity frequency
 » Passive users: low log-in and low activity frequency (Belleghem, 2010)

 This study found most users fall into two extremes: “Passive User” category (47%)
 and “Addicts” (26%), followed by “Voyeurs” (14%) and “Special Occasions” (13%).
 Brazilians dominated the “Voyeurs” category, while Americans and Russians
 dominated the “Special Occasion” category. Another finding from this study
 shows that connected people on social media have, on average, 195 friends
 online. Brazil leads the way with an average of 360 friends, followed by Portugal
 (236 friends) and the US (200 friends). This study also showed some regional
 differences related to trust and openness, with Europeans being less trusting and
 less open online compared to Asians.

 Companies
 Another way to view global social media usage is by company, rather than
 individual consumer, so here we look at a study by Burson-Marsteller (2009). This
 study analyzed social media efforts of the top 100 Fortune Global 500 companies
 between 2009 and 2010. Country-specific insights include:
 » Chinese state-owned companies have been a late and slow adopter of social
   media compared to Chinese private firms and foreign subsidiaries in China.
 » Orkut is the most popular social networking site in Brazil with 26 million users,
   but Brazilian companies are slow to engage consumers on Orkut or Facebook
   for fear of losing control of the conversation.
 » Japanese tend to be reluctant to share their thoughts publicly; therefore, social
   media adoption has been slow in Japan, but Japanese language social
   networking sites (e.g. Mixi) are catching on.
 » Similarly, Japanese companies have been reluctant to use social media and
   prefer traditional online forms of communication via company websites.


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 » French companies have also been reluctant users of social media tools, mostly
   using them to push out information without losing control of the conversation.
 » In Italy, the situation is different in that companies are actively engaging their
    social media users, like Facebook fans, as brand ambassadors.
 » Most Korean companies tend to restrict their social media efforts to top
   Internet and social media channels specific to South Korea, like Korean online
   cafes and Cyworld.

 Based on this review of consumers and companies, it’s clear there have been
 some attempts to understand usage patterns and profile global social media
 users. However, there is still limited evidence and information on the diffusion
 of global social media, its usage worldwide for business and personal reasons,
 and the effect to which multilingual diversity impacts the consumption of social
 media. This white paper addresses some of these under-researched issues
 by first analyzing global social media consumption patterns for both business
 and personal use, and then analyzing language preferences and tools used to
 translate social content.

 Sample
 Our study spanned from December 2009 to January 2010, when we implemented
 a survey on global social media usage in 20 languages. As per our knowledge, it
 is one of the first social media surveys to be implemented in 20 languages. Each
 language version of the survey was designed by native-speaking, well-trained and
 qualified translators in that language. More than 4,500 people from around the
 world responded to the survey. (The following data reflects the more than 3,800
 survey respondents who use social media platforms.) Snowballing was used to
 generate the sample. The survey was implemented online, and different language
 versions of the survey were made available to accommodate respondents’
 language preferences.
 Respondent break-up by countries is shown in Graphic 1, below. The majority of
 survey respondents were from the US, followed by India, China, Finland, Italy,
 France, Ireland, Canada, the UK, and Spain, along with another 10 countries.
 Thus, the data primarily includes respondents from more than 20 countries.




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 Graphic 1: Major countries sampled for the Study




 Almost 85 percent of the sample age ranged between 21-50 years, and the
 gender was 47 percent female and 52 percent male.

 Survey Results
 The survey examined two broad areas relating to global social media usage: (1)
 How global social media is used for business and personal use, and (2) The role of
 language and translation in global social media usage.
 Global Social Media Usage
 Based on the aggregate data from all the countries, we analyzed people’s
 motivations for using social media for business and personal use.
 The results show that 85 percent of our sample uses social media for business
 use. The top three reasons for using social media for business as illustrated in
 Graphic 2 are:

  1.    Building networks for business contact




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  2.    Reading social media content
  3.    Highlighting personal and professional expertise on social media
 Other leading reasons included job search, identifying potential leads, and finding
 product and service information.

 Graphic 2: Social media business usage for the total sample




 The results show that 97 percent of our sample uses social media for personal
 use. The top three reasons for using social media for personal use as illustrated in
 Graphic 3 are:
  1.    Connecting with friends and family
  2.    Reading social media content
  3.    Connecting with like-minded people




© Lionbridge 2010 WP-566-0710-1                                                                   9
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 Other leading reasons included:
 » Sharing links to the social media content
 » Making new friends
 » Using social media out of boredom

 Graphic 3: Social Media Personal Usage for Total Sample




 Looking at the top 7 countries by sample size, it is clear that while there is some
 consistency in social media usage for business and personal use, there are
 country-specific differences, as highlighted in Graphic 4, below. Furthermore,
 beyond the popularity of common social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn,
 Twitter, and MySpace, there are country-specific social media platforms that are
 popular in different countries due to language and social barriers. For example,
 in China, QQ, Q Zone, and Xiaonei are popular social media platforms catering
 to local tastes and language preferences. Similarly, in India, Orkut is one of the
 market leaders in social media, and in Poland, Nasza-Klasa is popular.




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   Graphic 4: Global Social Media Usage Patterns

Social         Top Business      Social media Top Personal Uses Social media Other Popular
Media            Uses of            Usage-     of Social Media    Usage-     Social Media
 Use           Social Media        Business                      Personal      Platforms
 USA      1.    Build network     Most Popular:    1.   Connect with         Most Popular:    You Tube & Flicker
                contacts            LinkedIn            friends and family   Face Book
          2.    Highlight
                                  Least Popular:   2.   Read content         Least Popular:
(n=102          personal
                                    MySpace        3.   Connect with like-   MySpace
                expertise
  7)      3.    Read content                            minded people
 India    1.    Build network     Most Popular:    1.   Connect with         Most Popular:    Orkut & You Tube
                contacts            Face Book           friends and family   Face Book
(n=342)
          2.    Read content      Least Popular:   2.   Make new friends     Least Popular:
          3.    Job search           MySpace       3.   Connect with like-   MySpace
                                                        minded people
 China    1.    Highlight         Most Popular:    1.   Connect with         Most Popular:    QQ, Q Zone &
                personal             MySpace            friends and family   MySpace          Xiaonei
(n=197)
                expertise         Least Popular:   2.   Read content         Least Popular:
          2.    Build network       Face Book      3.   Make new friends     Twitter
                contacts
          3.    Identify leads
Finland   1.    Build network     Most Popular:    1.   Connect with         Most Popular:    You Tube & Flicker
(n=171)         contacts            Face Book           friends and family   Face Book
          2.    Read content      Least Popular:   2.   Read content         Least Popular:
          3.    Job Search           MySpace       3.   Out of boredom       Twitter
  Italy   1.    Build network     Most Popular:    1.   Connect with         Most Popular:    You Tube &
                contacts            Face Book           friends and family   Face Book        MSN/Windows live
(n=148)
          2.    Highlight         Least Popular:   2.   Read content         Least Popular:   spaces
                personal             MySpace       3.   Connect with like-   Twitter
                expertise                               minded people
          3.    Read content
France    1.    Build network     Most Popular:    1.   Connect with         Most Popular:    You Tube &
                contacts            Face Book           friends and family   Face Book        MSN/Windows live
          2.    Read content      Least Popular:   2.   Read content         Least Popular:   spaces
(n=139)   3.    Highlight            MySpace       3.   Share links to       Twitter
                personal                                content
                expertise
Ireland   1.    Build network     Most Popular:    1.   Connect with         Most Popular:    You Tube & Flicker
                contacts            Face Book           friends and family   Face Book
(n=128)
          2.    Read content      Least Popular:   2.   Read content         Least Popular:
          3.    Highlight            MySpace       3.   Connect with like-   MySpace
                personal                                minded people
                expertise


  © Lionbridge 2010 WP-566-0710-1                                                                                  11
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 Language Factor in Global Social Media
 In this section, we provide an analysis of the access to social media by language,
 and showcase how consumers overcome language barriers to use social media.
 Graphic 5, below, shows social media use by language; however, sample sizes for
 different languages were not uniform, therefore, sample bias is possible in the
 data. A better picture may appear if we analyze the percentage of people from
 our country sample that prefer social media in their local language.

 Graphic 5: Social Media Use by Languages


        Language                 Yes Used Social Media            Not Used Social Media
       Portuguese BR                        92.45%                          7.55%

          Spanish                           91.43%                          8.57%

           Danish                           90.16%                          9.84%

           Polish                           88.64%                         11.36%

        Chinese TW                          88.57%                         11.43%

       Portuguese PT                        88.00%                         12.00%

          English                           87.79%                         12.21%

          Finnish                           84.35%                         15.65%

          Russian                           82.73%                         17.27%

           Italian                          80.95%                         19.05%

         French FR                          80.92%                         19.08%

          Swedish                           79.52%                         20.48%

         French CA                          78.85%                         21.15%

           Dutch                            76.56%                         23.44%

         Norwegian                          72.22%                         27.78%

           Hindi                            66.67%                         33.33%

          German                            65.55%                         34.45%

        Malayalam                           60.00%                         40.00%

          Korean                            58.33%                         41.67%

        Chinese CN                          56.94%                         43.06%

         Japanese                           56.12%                         43.88%

        Grand Total                         83.37%                         16.63%

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Graphic 6, below, shows the percentage of respondents from the top 10 countries
in our study (based on sample size) who prefer content in English versus their local
language (if other than English). Also included in this table is the percentage of our
respondents who translate social media content, the type of content they translate
the most, and the translation method they use: human translation or machine
translation.

Graphic 6: Language factor in Social Media Translation
   COUNTRY           LANGUAGE         PEOPLE TRANSLATING        TYPE OF CONTENT    TRANSLATION MECHANISM
                   PREFERENCE %         SOCIAL MEDIA %            TRANSLATED       (Human Translation=HT & Machine
                                                                                   Translation=MT) other category
                                                                                   not included

 Worldwide (all     English=62%              23%           1. Messages                       HT=62%
  countries          Other=5%                              2. Comments                       MT=35%
   n=4630)           French=4%                             3. Blogs

      USA           English=96%              18%           1. Messages                       HT=52%
                                                           2. Comments                       MT=43%
                                                           3. Blogs
     India          English=94%              24%           1. Messages                       HT=46%
                                                           2. Comments                       MT=52%
                                                           3. Blogs
     China              Chinese              25%           1. Blogs                          HT=53%
                   (simplified)=86%                        2. Profiles                       MT=47%
                      English=11%                          3. Messages
    Finland         English=57%              23%           1. Comments                       HT=65%
                    Finnish=38%                            2. Messages                       MT=35%
                                                           3. Blogs
      Italy         Italian= 78%             26%           1. Comments                       HT=86%
                    English=21%                            2. Messages                       MT=14%
                                                           3. Blogs
     France         French= 63%             17.5%          1. Messages                       HT=68%
                    English=29%                            2. Tweets                         MT=32%
                                                           3. Comments
     Ireland        English=91%              15%           1. Blogs                          HT=64%
                                                           2. Messages                       MT=32%
                                                           3. Comments
    Canada          English=67%              32%           1. Messages                       HT=66%
                                                           2. Blogs, comments                MT=32%
                                                           3. Tweets

       UK           English=93%              15%           1.   Comments                     HT=48%
                                                           2.   Messages                     MT=43%
                                                           3.   Blogs and Tweets
     Spain          Spanish=60%              22%           1.   Messages                     HT=67%
                    English=24%                            2.   Comments                     MT=30%
                                                           3.   Blogs

© Lionbridge 2010 WP-566-0710-1                                                                                      13
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From the table above, it is evident that users from different countries prefer social
media in their local languages. The strongest preference was seen in China, where
86 percent of Chinese preferred content in simplified Chinese.
It is also evident that while options for translation of social media content are
limited, and machine translation technology has not yet been perfected, even
then, consumers are using either human or machine translation to read social
media content. India is one of the only countries in our top 10 country sample that
uses more machine translation over human translation. Both human and machine
translation have their challenges in the present state of the industry. Few individuals
are multilingual or have access to translators to help them translate social media
content. In terms of technology, machine translation has not yet evolved enough to
take into account the grammatical and idiomatic nuances of translation. It is still best
used for “gisting” purposes, which means getting a rough idea of what a piece of
content is about, and is therefore only able to produce a very low level of quality.

Conclusion
In conclusion, the goal of this study was to address the apparent gap in the current
literature regarding language usage in global social media. The study also tried to
uncover global social media usage patterns for business and personal use across
a list of several countries covering North America, Europe, and Asia. This cross-
national analysis yielded global social media usage patterns across the world, and
showed that, while there are emerging similarities in social media usage, countries
still show unique local preferences in terms of how they use social media for
business and personal use. Also, it is evident that Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace,
and Twitter usage is not uniform across the world. There are significant differences
in terms of cross-national preference for these social media platforms. Moreover,
it is also evident that country-specific social media platforms are widely used, even
over the global giants like Facebook, Twitter and others. Finally, the study showed
that local language preference for social media usage is very strong around the
world. Thus, companies need to consider the language factor in their content and
user-generated content, and how best to facilitate translation, if they truly want to
penetrate global markets.




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References:
Belleghem, Van Steven (2010), “Social Media Around the world,” InSites
Consulting http://www.slideshare.net/stevenvanbelleghem/social-networks-
around-the-world-2010
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Polanco, Jennifer Wise (2010), “Introducing The New Social Technographics® How
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Burson-Marsteller (2009), “The Global Social Media Check-up Study,” Bursan-
Marsteller, www.bursan-marsteller.com
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after All,” or Is It? “ January, http://windmillnetworking.com
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Technographics: Mapping participation in Activities forms the Foundation of a
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globalwebindex.net
Stelzner, A. Michael (2010), “2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report,” April,
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Swedowsky, Maya (2009), “A Social Media ‘How to’ for Retailers, http://
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CNNIC (2009), Statistical Survey Report on the Internet Development in China,
Janurary http://www.cnnic.net.cn/uploadfiles/pdf/2009/3/23/153540.pdf




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Forrester Technographics data (2009) http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell/
profile_tool.html
MarketingSherpa (2010), “2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report,”
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www.universalmccann.com/wave/
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blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire
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Weinberg, Tamar (2009), The New Community Rules, O’Reilly Media Inc, CA.




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CONTACT INFORMATION
 About Lionbridge
 Lionbridge Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: LIOX) is a leading provider of translation,
 localization, and testing services. Lionbridge combines global language resources
 with proven program management methodologies to serve as an outsource
 partner throughout a client’s product and content lifecycle. Organizations
 in all industries rely on Lionbridge language and testing services to increase
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 the integrity of their global brands. Based in Waltham, Mass., Lionbridge operates
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© Lionbridge 2010 WP-566-0710-1                                                                17

								
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