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It may seem counterintuitive for a country that is universally recognized for its tech savviness, but social media channels, and the tactics companies find so successful in western markets, can be viewed as very suspicious by Japanese consumers.

The reasons are embedded in the culture of formality and propriety in Japan. We sat down with Translation and LQA professional Akagi Kobayashi to get her take on the LQA considerations to be aware of when engaging in social media in Japan.

A snapshot of Japanese Social Media Trends

While the percentage of social media users (82.7%) is higher than the global average (77.8%), Japanese people spend just 51 minutes on social media per day – far less than the global average of 2.5 hours per day. This means you are competing for a preciously small amount of attention from each user and need to choose your apps, and your tactics, wisely.

Online Anonymity And Why Facebook is Not #1 in Japan

Western businesses are often surprised to learn Facebook is not the undisputed king of social media apps in Japan. In fact, it ranks a distant fourth on the list. Akagi points to some social reasons for this.

“Facebook requires you to use your name,”  she notes. “I think it’s a fear of losing privacy.” In fact, it’s reported that Facebook had real difficulty persuading Japanese customers to use their real names when they first launched. And that may have cost them the lead in the social media race.

“A lot of other social networks would ask you to set a handle, a name by which you appear,” Akagi points out. “Even bank apps ask you for your pseudonym. So in general, people are scared, wary of exposing their true identity.”

This leads back to a fundamental concept in Japanese culture of not drawing undo attention to yourself. “The aura or the veneer of privacy is very important in Japan as opposed to perhaps a Western viewpoint, which is far more open with identity,” Akagi adds. “People are scared about privacy and guarding their identity. I think there’s a sort of a general phobia about that.”

Respecting Cultural Boundaries to Create Social Media Growth

Akagi points out the opportunity for social media success certainly exists. “I think social media has come into the Japanese field a lot. It’s used a lot, in fact,” she remarks.

But the most successful apps and companies respect Japanese norms. Not surprisingly, apps that allow for that sense of anonymity have been far more popular. “X is very popular,” Akagi points out, “but I’m not sure how many people like to use their own name.”

Cultural Understanding and The Local Advantage

“There are sort of local brands of social media like LINE,” Akagi tells us. Part of LINE’s success is its Asian roots (it was first created by Korean search engine company Naver as a communication tool for their Japanese staff after the 2011 Tohuku earthquake and tsunami). The app makes extensive use of Anime-style stickers that users and advertisers can share and modify.

And, of course, it doesn’t require your real name. “It’s used by local retailers to attract shoppers in the area with bargains and news and so on and so forth. It may be used most in sales where retail may be involved.”

Akagi also points out that smaller social media apps focused on convenience are popular. “Restaurant search apps are extremely popular”, she says. “There are many of them.”

Even the largest convenience retailer is not immune to local competition. “Amazon is also very popular,” she says. “It’s used a lot in Japan, but there are many rival sites as well.”

Modifying Social Media to Culture: Local Apps for Local Stores

Akagi has also noticed that, while online shopping has grown and social media is popular, the Japanese tradition of shopping in person, the need for discretion and the importance placed on long-term relationships have made a particular type of app far more popular in Japan: store-specific apps.

Akagi fills in the background on the topic. “In Japan people still tend to shop in person,” she says. “Especially in towns, there’s a huge density of population, which means that there’s a density of small shops, like those convenience stores at every street corner. And you can get almost anything.”

Akagi goes on to explain how store-specific loyalty apps have flourished as a result of this personal contact. “My experience is that each shop in the mall has its own little app. So you go in there and you’re encouraged to download the app. Then once you get it, you get your marketing messages and loyalty promotions through that app.”

It’s the personal relationship dynamic, but built into the tech-blended world we all now inhabit.

Ready to Learn More?

This is Part 3 of a 3 part series. If you want to learn more about the overall philosophy of Japanese LQA, check out Part 1. And, for Some of Akagi’s best tips on Japanese LQA, see Part 2.

Still Trying to Make Japanese Social Media Work on Your Own? You Don’t Need To

As you can see from Akagi’s comments, Japanese social media has its own special formula for success. We’ve got the LQA expertise you need to evaluate your messaging and make sure it’s building the right kind of relationships. And we’d love to put that experience to work for you!

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Redefining (And even Renaming Quality Assurance) With the Analytical LQE Model

“LQA.” It’s one of those ubiquitous terms in the localization world: Used by everyone, tossed around in nearly every meeting, heads nod with each mention. But often times, the definition is hard to pin down – and, of course, varies from each person using the term.

Which can leave your business open for inconsistent translation and missed opportunity.

What’s even worse, LQA is sometimes confused with QA check, a set of automated checks that produce a report listing potential errors in translation. However, it’s important to note that automated QA checks are not the only step in ensuring quality translations. To achieve better results, LQA should be performed both by a linguist and by automated quality assurance checks.

So instead of “LQA” and its nebulous definition, we prefer the term LQE. And to make sure we’re all on the same page, we want to define it so you can understand exactly what you need to be getting when it comes to ensuring consistent translation quality no matter what vendors you are using.

LQE Process: A True Statistical Measure of Quality (pass/fail ratio is also a part of an analytic LQE model)

LQE provides an analytical method for measuring the quality of a translation by first letting you set an objective measuring system and then breaking translation text into smaller segments to track errors in specific words and phrases so that an absolute and objective quality score can be assigned.

Our industry has made progress, and we’re moving faster than ever. With the advent of technology, global sourcing, and distribution, plus the emergence of markets spanning the globe, the entire localization industry is growing at an incredible pace.

But with Growth Comes Struggle – and Opportunity

Companies are anxious to expand markets and find opportunities – which means they’re increasing the translation rate. And, with increased work comes an even more pressing need to evaluate the quality of all these translations and create objective measures that will improve translation efforts over time – because, as we all know, a poor translation can have an all-too-sinking effect on sales, customer satisfaction and even lead to lawsuits.

In short, we need a new Language Quality process that is faster to apply, more objective in its grading, and has adaptable standards to suit the different types of translation work performed in each market, especially translations containing risk-prone content referring to legal, geopolitical, and/or data protection items.

This is where Language Quality Evaluation (LQE) takes over from LQA (Language Quality Assurance): Expanding the definition of quality from mere pass/fail to a complete system of checks and balances that improve what really matters: your customer’s experience with your brand.

Transitioning From a Pass/Fail and Subjective to Statistical Objectivity

LQE provides an analytical method for measuring the quality of a translation by first letting you set an objective measuring system and then breaking translation text into smaller segments to track errors in specific words and phrases so that an absolute and objective quality score can be assigned.

LQE framework allows you to select and adjust evaluation criteria for specific content type and specific needs but, whatever you chose, and however you tailor it, the results are still comparable (if you have different LQE models for different content types, they still fit together, giving you a detailed view of localization quality throughout different departments)

To think of it another way, TQE is applying the same statistics-based quality control system that revolutionized the manufacturing world to translation.

3-Steps to Success: An Overview of the LQE process (as backed by

While it might sound intimidating, building an effective LQE model for any project can be broken down into a fairly simple process roadmap that first identifies the quality level to achieve for each content type and the criteria that will be used to determine if that quality level was met.

Once the level and criteria are set, the project can be scored, and follow-ups can be delivered. Let’s take a look at the basic steps:

  1. Preliminary Stage: Defines your content types and quality goals per type. It helps you select the dimensions of quality that are most relevant to the project, whether it’s fluency and accuracy, internationalization, or other considerations.

Within the preliminary stage, you will also set the thresholds for 3 key measurements that make LQE an objective measuring tool:

  • Threshold Value: this is the 0-100 score of the necessary quality. Setting this score is based on the end use of the translation. Many companies set a lower TV on informal communications, while legal documents and contracts require a much higher rating.
  • Evaluation Word Count: This is the number of words you evaluated in the project. In the TQE model, this number is based on the word count in the source text.
  • Absolute Penalty Total: This is the total number of errors found in the project after being weighted for severity level. Industry-standard severity penalty multipliers are: Neutral = 0, Minor = 1, Major = 5, Critical = 25.

After your thresholds are identified, the text is broken up into Translation Units (TUs) or phrases that can be checked for errors between the source document and the translation.

  1. Error Annotation Stage: In this stage, each of the translation TUs is checked for errors against the source document, and the errors are noted. A “scorecard” that classifies the errors by type (examples: Mistranslation, Omission, Punctuation, Unidiomatic Style, Organizational Style, and Awkward Style), and penalty points are assigned based on the severity of each of these errors. Using this scorecard, the Absolute Penalty Total can be calculated.

  2. Calculation and Follow-up Stage: This is the true “magic”’ of LQE. Because we’ve identified metrics and captured data in steps 1 and 2, we can now objectively evaluate translation quality through a series of formulas that lead us to an Overall Quality Score (OQS).

The OQS can be compared to the starting Threshold Value to determine if the project is objectively a pass or a fail, but that’s only the beginning of TQE’s follow-up utility.

Because the OQS is an objective measure, your team can compare quality results between different projects to determine the success rate of translation providers across multiple projects and languages, note trends over time or find areas for targeted improvement.

What’s The Benefit of LQE Over legacy LQA? True Insights vs. Subjective Opinion

Defined goals create defined processes with measurable metrics to judge quality from. With a true LQE philosophy guiding your process, subjective definitions of quality are replaced with objective data, so all team members can see the same end goal – and have the proper tools to measure their results. And by digging into the stats, each team member can see what steps they can take to improve their performance and deliver greater value.

Need Help Making the LQE leap? We’re Here for You

With over a decade of experience in the localization quality world, we’ve become, if you’ll pardon the bragging, masters of implementing quality evaluation and control processes that break down the walls between translators and other stakeholders and get the results that today’s fast-moving business space demands. We’d love to explain more about how adopting an LQE philosophy can help – and we can guide you through every step along the way.

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2 Major Faults You Can Fix by Moving your QA process Upstream – and 1 Simple Process to Make it Happen

Have you ever come across a trading platform that seemed to have it all together, but something just felt off? Maybe there were no glaring linguistic errors, but the terminology related to financial markets was misused. It was like they had all the right words but didn’t quite understand how to use them properly. This would make anyone question their credibility and wonder if they really knew what they were doing. Imagine being a customer on such a platform, trying to navigate your investments while doubting the company’s expertise!

It’s moments like this that remind all of us in localization why we need LQA – and why the quality of your localized content should never be an afterthought. In fact, at Chillistore, as an LQA provider and quality consultant in the localization industry, building systems to catch and prevent errors is an issue we’ve spent years working on.

A Better Start to Finish With

Ideally, the best way to fix a mistake is to never make it in the first place- to move your quality control process so close to the point of error that the mistakes are caught before they can spread.

As seen in the example above, your linguistic content plays a vital role in shaping your product’s overall appeal and functionality and when this content is poorly localized, it can significantly impact your product’s ability to attract its target audience or, in some cases, even render it non-functional. A well-localized product not only ensures seamless communication but also fosters a sense of trust and familiarity among your users.

So here are two especially challenging places where mistakes are made in the standard translation process – and our own fix that reinvents LQA to get to the source of the problem and stop these mistakes before they happen.

1. Changing from “What Did They Mean?” to “What Do You Mean?”

Unfortunately, the reality of translation is that it tends to be a quantity vs. a quality-based business. Budgets are tight, talent is often in short supply, and translators are pushed to meet the deadline first – often assured the quality step will catch any errors later. In addition, the translation team may not be familiar with your particular industry terms, business practices, or the current formal vs. informal communication norms within a given market or linked to your brand and tone of voice.

All of these challenges leave open the possibility of an error making its way through the process and ending up front and center with a customer.

Catching Translation Errors Before They Start

Adding an LQA step into the initial translation process adds a team of language experts who work directly with language service providers to address common translation issues and make sure all your content is appropriate for the brand and culture.

An LQA examines the initial translation and provides feedback — reviewing the translated content for language errors, inconsistent wording, inclusive language, accessibility, and cohesive brand representation. To put it simply, combine LQA with content review and pre-publication checks to make sure that you will get the right final look first time round.

2. Anticipating the Final Look is Far Less Expensive Than Reacting to It

Localization would be so much easier if it was simply a matter of translating words and dropping them back into the same app or layout. Many a company has gone into their first project assuming that this is how the process works – only to be blindsided by additional expenses and work.

But a proactive and empowered in-house LQA team is, once again, able to move your quality control up in the process to avoid the costly re-work.

At Chillistore, we understand the importance of preparing our customers’ content for global expansion and ensuring seamless internationalization. Our team works closely with you to thoroughly analyze your content, identify cultural nuances, and adapt it to suit the target market’s preferences. We employ a comprehensive approach, including localization, transcreation, and market-specific research to ensure that your content is not only linguistically accurate but also culturally relevant and appealing.

Preparing for Text Expansion in Digital and Print.

A lesson that’s best learned early is that translation will expand the text length – in some cases by up to 30%. This can truncate callouts in print or UI elements on a website or app and create “ghost text” that leaves critical information missing – not to mention it will likely create customer service frustrations later.

Going With the Flow: Print-specific LQA Issues

A diligent LQA team that understands text expansion will also be on the lookout for page flow and layout concerns: making sure the correct and culturally appropriate images are located with the relevant type and even making sure the table of contents page references are updated after translation.

We prioritize quality and make sure that the final output meets the highest linguistic standards by incorporating an LSO (Linguistic Sign-Off) step into our workflow. Following the Translation, Review, LQA, and DTP (Desktop Publishing) stages, the LSO step serves as a critical checkpoint before moving to production. Our linguists carefully review not only printed materials but also eBooks, webpages, and other formats to confirm that they look polished and professional before printing or publishing. This extra layer of scrutiny ensures that you receive top-notch, error-free content that aligns with your brand and resonates with your target audience.

LQA + In-Context Checks

Proactive digital production LQA teams verify the quality, sizing, and file format of localized graphics and double-check the references and link tags to make sure the experience will be intuitive for the user, a workflow much like our LSO step.

The Solution? Making LQA an End-to-end Integration: The Chillistore Language Ownership Program

At Chillistore, a company that got our start in LQA and quickly gained a reputation for its innovativeness, we’ve had years to consider the process and see the successes and failures of good LQA up close – and recognize firsthand why quality should come first for any company looking to reach out to customers in other countries. These lessons have led us to develop an entire process we call the Language Ownership Program.

The concept is simple enough: Bridging the gaps between translators, reviewers, and extended stakeholders in the localization process means errors are found before they’re customer-facing, and inconsistencies are eliminated before they detract from your product’s success. Our Language Ownership Program turns LQA into a continuous improvement process where every stakeholder is involved in bringing quality to the next level.

To do it, we form close relationships with your team, working as both project managers and linguistics experts to guarantee a fluid workflow. As a result, you get not just accurate translation but a culturally sensitive and relatable finished product everyone on the team is proud of – and that your customer is happy to experience at the end of the process.

Let’s Make Some Change Together

Want to learn more about creating continuous quality improvement in your LQA? It’s what Chillistore has been helping companies do for over a decade. And we would love to help you too.

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