I first wrote this post in 2008. A lot has changed since then but it is still one of my most popular posts. I believe this is because shows that platforms may come and go, but the principles of a sound social media strategy stands the test of time. Read it with this in mind, and enjoy!
I went to a conference for solo business owners recently and the question on everyone’s lips was ‘Do you blog?’ Well, yes, I do actually. Micro AND macro, as it happens.
There seems to be a lot of mystery around the business benefits of social media, including the ways in which it can be applied to meet various professional goals*.
So in an attempt to contribute to the discussion, here’s how this humble translator uses WordPress (macroblogging), Twitter (microblogging), LinkedIn, Proz, and a whole raft of other online bells and whistles in her day-to-day work.
(Bear in mind that this process often changes as I tweak, measure and experiment.)
- I converse with other people, both inside and outside my field, via this blog and by regularly following and leaving comments on other blogs. I use Google Reader [now defunct: try Feedly instead] as a feedreader to subscribe to other blogs, which means I can see at a glance when a new post has been added to one of my ‘favourites’.
- I ‘flesh out’ my online persona even more by participating in relevant blogging communities. Tools like Technorati and MyBlogLog help with this, although there are plenty of others which do the same job.
- I use the likes of LinkedIn, Ning and Proz as relatively ‘static’ shop fronts, with links back to my website. I’m not worried that keeping a lower profile in these communities will lose me clients, because I’ve discovered that my target clients don’t tend to look for their translators in these places anyway. This won’t be true for everyone, of course.
- I share snippets of interesting content with other professionals via Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon and Twitter. This is for when I don’t have the time or inclination to write an entire blog post on an issue but I’d still like to guage reactions, or when I want to share something that doesn’t really fit the scope of my blog. And it’s fun!
- I occasionally contribute to relevant group discussions on various Google, Yahoo and Proz forums. I’d like to make this more of a focus in the future, but generally I’m trying to move away from email and lengthy discussion threads which take a long time to sift through (unlike the RSS feeds in my feedreader). Translating involves enough keyboard pounding and text trawling as it is…
- Twitter is my watercooler. I can eavesdrop on chatter in areas that interest me, get quick answers to certain kinds of questions or thow out ideas to test the waters for reactions. I like the perspective I get on things here because it’s not just translators, and best of all, it’s all kept to 140 characters or less 🙂 Oh, and this is fun too.
- As all roads lead to my website, I use Google Analytics to measure the impact of the online tools I’m using. I’m very conscious of not wasting my time and this means I know exactly what return I’m getting in terms of interest in my services, etc. I’m working at improving this all the time.
- For me, Facebook is strictly friends only. I’ve made a decision not to bring work into it because it annoys me to see other people tarting themselves about in my downtime. Likewise, Bebo is family only. And yes, my family is large enough to warrant an entire online networking application dedicated to staying in touch 🙂 [update: Facebook has refined its targeting features and the division between friends and colleagues has become less clear. I now have a Facebook Page for my business]
Most importantly, I see these tools as a simple compliment to my overall online and offline activities.
For example, my ultimate marketing goal is to make it easy for various interested parties to find me. When they do find me, I want their positive image of me to be reinforced across a range of channels. Then, I want them to be able to contact me directly and quickly so we can do the deed, so to speak 😉 As a plan it’s far from perfect and there’s lots I’d like to do differently. But let’s face it, it’s not rocket science either. (I have similar goals around being part of a community of like-minded professionals.)
My advice to translators on making the most of social media, and indeed web 2.0 in general?
First, be clear on what you want to achieve for your business overall. Then, dive right in and give it a try.
If you get stuck, read this. If you’re still not getting it, or if you get it far too well but still lack a valid business reason to surf the web all day, then read Read Brian Solis’s Essential Guide to Social Media. Keep experimenting and referring back to your original business goals. Above all else, ignore the conspiracy theorists, new-technology scaremongers and social networking naysayers and have FUN!
WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT THIS?
If you want to read some more about making social networking work for you, check out:
– a great post from Scot Herrick’s Cube Rules: Joining social sites – the criteria
– an excellent podcast called Facebook for Professionals from Duct Tape Marketing. It’s not exactly how I like to use Facebook (as outlined above), but Mari Smith has plenty of practical examples to explain how small businesses can make effective use of social media.
* This post is based on a couple of discussions I’ve contributed to recently. See:
– Jill Sommer’s asks some great questions over at Musings from an Overworked Translator: Do you Twitter?
– Nick Pawley’s query on LinkedIn prompts some interesting discussion about using SEO / online marketing to increase your translation business
– Flying Solo article Is social networking for us? captures the mood of many