How to Negotiate the Jungle of Social Media for Translators

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Genevieve Shaw

Do you ever feel lost in a vast jungle of social media? It’s often difficult for freelance translators to know what social media sites to choose, what approach to take and what language to use. Here are 11 ways to negotiate the jungle of social media for translators, and in particular LinkedIn.

1. Experiment over time

Social media is a process of trial and error. Different people will tell you different things, and you have to work out what strategy works best for you. Once you’ve chosen your strategy, keep doing it for a minimum of three months. Measure the outcome of your actions (see point 3 below).

2. Make a plan

Sit down and have a really good think about what you want to achieve with social media. Answer the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What do you want to say to them?
  • What languages do they speak?
  • What social media sites do they use?

Independently of what language you use on social media, you’ll need to answer these questions.

3. Set measurable goals

As part of your plan, you need to set specificquantitative goals. They must be appropriate to your service and objectives.

I’m a freelance translator specialising in health, culture and marketing, from Catalan and Spanish to English. So, an example of a measurable goal in my case could be: get one new Catalan client, based in Catalonia, who works in the travel industry, in the next three months.

Your goal should include the number of new clients you want to get, their location and their industry.

Check out these 11 tips to help translators negotiate the social media jungle. #t9nCLICK TO TWEET

“Always refer back to your original goals after a set time period and see if you have fulfilled them.”

4. Know your client

Social media for translators involves identifying what social-media sites your target client uses. Use Google to research companies and discover the names of key figures who work in the marketing and communication departments. Then, use LinkedIn to research these people and answer the following questions:

  • What language is their main profile written in?
  • What languages are the articles they put up written in?
  • What are they interested in?

This will help you formulate your approach to a particular potential client.

5. Follow people or link with them

Once you’ve identified your potential clients, follow them on social media. LinkedIn lets you follow people without actually linking to them. This means you can see the type of posts they’re publishing, but they won’t see what you publish. You can also send people an invitation to link.

One way to differentiate yourself is by sending a customised invitation. Very few translators do this, and so it can make you more memorable. In your client’s main language, briefly introduce yourself, explain what you do and why you want to link with them.

6. Help people

Social-media experts will tell you that you should use LinkedIn to help people. If you notice someone’s profile contains mistakes in their second language, send them a private message to let them know and include a corrected version. If you read an article that you think a particular person might find interesting, forward the article and write an “@” symbol followed by their name, to tag them in the post.

By helping other people, you’re inadvertently helping yourself. It means you’ll be top of mind when people need the service you offer.

Tip #6, help people. You’ll love these hints to help #translators with their social media. #xl8 Click To Tweet

7. Bridge the gap

As translators, we bridge the gap between languages and cultures as seamlessly as possible. Therefore, bridging the gap is a good approach to take with your social media posts. If your second language skills are proficient, show people how to bridge this gap by writing posts in two languages.

Alternatively, attach an article in your first language and write a post to introduce the article in your second language. Often, potential clients have some knowledge of English and they might enjoy having the opportunity to practise. Think about writing a post that will help your client learn some English.

“As part of your plan, you need to set specific, quantitative goals.”

8. Check your posts

If you feel unconfident in your second language, ask a native speaker to check your posts before publishing them. At least check your wording by typing a “sentence in inverted commas” into Google. The number of results will tell you whether it’s commonly used. If you realise you’ve published text that contains mistakes, edit the text and correct them.

9. Be creative

There’s a lot of noise on social media for translators. Millions of people write millions of things all the time. Sometimes the most effective way of engaging people on social media is with a very simple but creative post. It could be a photo with a question. It could be a video.

10. Separate ego from professional reach

It can be easy to start paying too much attention to the number of people who read your posts or the number of likes you get. Try not to post articles just to bolster your ego. Always refer back to your original goals after a set time period and see if you have fulfilled them. Have you got the new client you wanted?

11. Do what feels right

Publishing posts and putting comments on social media sites, whatever the language, makes you visible. It can lead to feelings of anxiety. If you start feeling anxious, write down the thoughts that are making you feel this way and work out exactly what’s causing your anxiety.

Perhaps you’re a natural introvert and feel too exposed on social media. If being visible on social media isn’t right for you, don’t worry. Keep focussing on marketing through customised email campaigns, which is a good option to pursue alongside social media anyway.

Written by Genevieve Shaw

Genevieve Shaw is a Spanish- and Catalan-to-English translator, writer and copyeditor. She is also founder and editor-in-chief of 'Women in the NHS', giving a voice to under-represented and inspiring women in UK healthcare. Connect with Genevieve on LinkedIn.

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