Are you on Twitter? If not, then one of the reasons might be that you don’t understand the benefits it offers or how it works. If you are, many users may find value in some aspects of the social media platform, such as staying in touch with news, but many still scratch their heads as to how to use it to bring in business.
In fact many users of social media are all still asking themselves the same question – how do I use Twitter to market my services and find business through platforms like Twitter, Facebook and the rest? There is no simple answer. The how ultimately comes down to who you are what you do. Social media demands engagement, content, time and resources. Whether you a freelance translator or a company of 50 people, will govern what can realistically be achieved and in fact what you should even try to achieve.
For freelance translators, Twitter can be a drain on valuable time. Why spend an hour on Twitter when you could be translating or doing your admin, right? There is weight in this line of argument. If as a freelancer your work is nice and steady, with established clients you can rely on, then social media may indeed not be a priority. Those that fall into this camp should consider Twitter therefore as a means to share their experience and thoughts, to stay up to date with news or further cement relationships with clients.
For those looking to build up their client base or their pipeline, Twitter can also offer the opportunity to do so. Once you use it and get used to it, the time and effort can really pay off. Social media is still an evolving phenomenon; there are no hard and fast rules. People are continually being creative with it, so one should never limit their horizons when thinking about how to use it. Express yourself how you want; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You will eventually find what works for you.
For those looking for some ideas on how to use Twitter to market themselves, experiment with some of these:
Fix up. Look sharp
Entering social media is akin to entering a massive networking event. You need to present yourself well as first appearances count. Add a nice profile picture you feel reflects yourself well. Use your bio well outlining your key skills and services – remember to use “keywords” people might search for such as “freelance translator” or your language specialisms. If you have a website, be sure to include it.
Identify your targets
If there are certain companies you would like to work with, whether local or international, these form your target market. Get a list together and follow them all on Twitter; a quick “hello” never hurts and highlights you to the team looking after social media. From there you need to engage with them – retweet (RT) their posts and comment on them, answer questions they may pose and share news you think would interest them. Don’t be shy to engage; take your time and build your relationship with them. If you’re serious about a long term relationship with a client, having the social media team think of you is always a step in the right direction.
Talk to the people
As well as the social media team, it’s also crucial you see if any of the decision makers from your targets are active on Twitter. Project Managers, sales people and even business owners are on Twitter. Following the same steps mentioned above, engaging with everyone from the business will help your name get around pretty soon. A mention of them in something you post or even a hilarious video you may share with them could lead to your name being shared around the office. It’s important to also remember not to confine yourself to just Twitter – pick up the phone sometimes and speak to these people. It may just be a 30 second conversation thanking them for a comment or a post but this helps build your profile and come to people’s minds when they need something you can offer.
Share the love
In order for companies to offer freelance translators work, they need to actually have the orders. Try and follow local, sector or translation specific news and if you see opportunities such as tenders or RFPs that you know you could not fulfil, why not share this with one or some of your target companies? You have nothing to lose other than the chance to get involved should the work come through. Sharing often results in more benefits for the giver than they often know. Demonstrating you have your ‘ear to the ground’ in the translation sector identifies you have skills other than translation.
What makes you special?
We are all familiar with the concept of having a USP – what is it that will make you stand out in a crowd? Why would a client or a translation agency think specifically of you? It may be sector specific expertise, a love for fashion ecommerce or video games. Try to condense interests into a clear message and convey this on your profile and through what you tweet about and what you share. Giving yourself a niche and getting involved in conversations about it, helps identify you as someone who is involved and engaged.
Who follows who?
If you know of freelance translators who appear to do well from social media for whatever reason, have a look at what they do. What do they talk about and who with? Who follows them? If you see patterns of conversation which help you identify new connections, go and target them. Broadening your engagement is only ever a positive move as long as it’s relevant to your goals.
Search and you shall find
A function not exploited enough by many users of Twitter is the search function. If you are an English to German translator, have you ever searched for “need an English to German translator”? Try it. Then try other terms that may relate to people looking for what you offer. Experiment with different keywords and keep a regular look out. You can save search terms through “save search” or “embed this search”. If you do find leads in this manner, be quick in replying and also follow up with other media such as email and the phone.
Keep it regular
If you want Twitter to work you need to be in it for the long run; overnight success is rare. The secret to success is in keeping things simple and regular. It doesn’t matter if you spend 2 hours or 24 hours a week on Twitter – what matters is the quality of what you do and keeping that constant. Just 15 minutes a day is enough to use Twitter effectively enough to cover many of the example tasks and goals outlined above. Build it into your daily and weekly routine and stick to it.
Twitter is essentially a mass conversation. A lot of it is noise but there are also good and fruitful conversations to be had. Use things like hash tags to find conversations you want to be part of and use them in your tweets. Follow Friday or #ff is where every Friday people recommend others to follow on Twitter. It’s a good way of drawing attention to yourself from those you give a thumbs up to. It’s a good starter level hash tag anyone can try out. You will soon find hash tags of your own to start using.
The tips and pointers above have helped many freelance translators find success on Twitter. Valeria Aliperta (@rainylondon) is one of those freelancers. “Freelancers – esp. when translators – spend many hours isolated and even if it may sound a bit of a cliché, it’s true. Social media let us learn, share, find help, be creative and keep up-to-date with what is going on around us. It’s a huge community where to draw inspiration from. Of course, it gives freelancers visibility and eventually more clients. My brand has yet to go ‘viral’ in the strictest sense i.e. millions of likes and so on – but no doubt most translators in the UK have heard of Rainy London!”
Having used Twitter to build a brand and develop her business, what advice does she have on finding new business? “Liaise with your followers, interact and give credit. Twitter is the new word of mouth! But be careful what you write, though. The Twitterverse is cruel if you spam, are inaccurate or irrelevant. For me, being consistent on all platforms also helps: make sure you know your audience and never leave your account/s ‘unattended’ for too long… Combine Twitter and its being quick with other marketing tools but leave it if you feel forced to being ‘out there’ – do not do any tweeting for tweeting’s sake!”
Social media is at its core one thing – social. If you want to succeed you can’t be anything but sociable. Now that you have some ideas, go find how Twitter can help you. Good luck!
Neil Payne, formerly of Kwintessential, started off working life as a Turkish to English translator. It made his head hurt so he set up the company Commisceo Global instead. The company specialises in helping businesses “going global” through a number of localisation and translation services.