Translating and generating content is nothing new for language service providers. From press releases to brand campaigns, this genre of written material comprises a significant portion of the jobs that land on a translator’s or editor’s desk. So why should a new format for marketing copy pose such a hurdle?
Industry veterans have steered clear of social media for too long, brushing it off as a “passing fad” or “not relevant to this line of work,” when in fact the medium holds huge opportunity for lovers of language. The heightened challenge of localizing witty turns of phrase within strict character limits and almost instantaneous turnaround times demands new levels of creativity, but not without merit.
Translators and editors of social media content have to don many hats: language professional, copywriting guru, company insider and industry expert. The job requires a deep insight into the target groups, whether customers in a geographically small area or business partners across industries and across the globe. After all, in social media more than any other medium, it’s all about authenticity.
The gift that keeps on giving
In this context, authenticity means communicating with a relatable, trustworthy voice that encourages readers – or in the appropriate lingo, “followers” – to interact with your message. Because interaction is the goal, generating content for this arena requires more follow-up material than perhaps any other medium – and fast. To reliably offer this service, language service providers are going to have to rethink their team structures and operating conditions. And that begs the question: Do you enter this gold mine of self-fueling jobs with 24/7 service or do you maintain the standard 9 to 5 hours of old and kiss this payday goodbye?
Whatever the answer, it can’t be half-hearted. Committing to intermittent posts on a rarely monitored Facebook page ultimately spells more damage to a company’s reputation than foregoing the venture altogether. Think of it in terms of a conversation. Who wants to interact with the guy who enters a room, hollers out a self-aggrandizing statement and then stands silent in the corner for the rest of the night, dodging everyone’s questions? Visibility and trust is only gained by reciprocal communication: answering your followers’ replies or retweets, commenting on a post in which your company is tagged, sharing the LinkedIn Pulse article of a contact who regularly endorses your listed skills.
Collaboration, not outsourcing
Though language service partners themselves may only take on a portion of this responsibility for their customers, becoming familiar with and tracking the company’s activity will increase their value to that customer and ensure the longevity of their relationship. And by maintaining your own presence on the leading platforms, you signal to your customers that you feel at home in this environment. Not to mention the benefits of crowdsourcing and best-practice-sharing you’ll gain as an active social media user.
No matter the degree of involvement, a collaborative relationship between customer and service partner will always produce better results than an impersonal hand-off. At the core, the work is “social” and the results should reflect that. Concretely, that translates to regular meetings to discuss long-term strategy and style as well as spontaneous suggestions from both sides for the integration of relevant hashtags or memes.
Tailored to the top
Prominent CEOs in particular have a lot to gain from a social media presence, but often lack the guidance or confidence to venture out into these new waters. This provides the perfect opening for a language service partner who can stand by the executive’s side to transform his or her industry know-how and insight into brand-aligned, Web-appropriate messages. Even if the posts are initially prepared by the customer’s communications team in the executive’s native language, the accurate localization or globalization of these posts best stems from experienced language experts in tune with the tonality and functionality of the respective platforms.
There’s no denying it: The translation and localization industry is speeding up along the information superhighway. Now that it’s become clear social media is no fad, it’s time for language service providers to stake their claim. The name of the game is effective communication, and with our dedication to language quality, we’re ideally poised to take that conversation to the next level.