Social media is here to stay, with its usage spanning across all industries. The languages industry is slowly but surely taking advantage of this vehicle, and individual freelancers should be no exception. This article provides the steps to be taken in using the Facebook medium to enhance a linguist's online presence and produce business leads.
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Facebook (www.facebook.com) is an Internet based social networking site which allows users to create and maintain a profile, through which they can connect with friends and others. A Facebook profile is largely populated through the user's status updates, i.e. messages and postings of links and photos that indicate the user's current activities as well as their interests. Facebook limits the amount of friends a user can have to 5000. There are also the options of creating groups and fanpages dedicated to a specific individual or interest, which users can either join, in the case of groups, or "like" in the case of fanpages. Many, if not most, large corporations have fanpages on Facebook to advertise their products and services, as well as to communicate with current or potential clients.
The following are some tips which linguists can use to broaden their online presence, as well obtain project offers through Facebook:
1. Pick a username and profile name that can readily identifiable with either you personally, your business name, or your industry. Otherwise, you will not show up in searches by other users looking for individuals in the translation industry. Your selected profile picture also gives an impression with regard to your professionalism, choose carefully.
2. Friend other Facebook users who have either common interests, for example, other legal translators or other medical interpreters, to keep abreast of new developments. Facebook is somewhat more informal than other social media sites, but it is also an educational tool and much can be learned from posts from those with similar interests. Facebook does have certain restrictions in relation to adding friends, which, if not followed, can result in blocks on your account, so read the FAQ carefully.
3. Is there a translation agency you are interested in working for? More and more language companies are setting up profiles or fanpages on Facebook and sending out messages about their current activities. Some language companies also keep up a live feed of projects for which they need linguists.
4. Be particular about who you choose to friend. Profiles of your followers can be seen on your profile page, and can leave either a negative or positive impression on those who are considering whether or not to follow you. In particular, if you are using Facebook for business, connecting to those who continuously post objectionable or offensive material can hurt your professional credibility.
5. Be a good Facebook friend. Take the time to comment on the postings of others.
6. Be consistent in your message. If your Facebook account has been set up for business, stick to that professional tone as much as possible. If you would like to send out personal thoughts and ideas, consider setting up a separate Facebook account, i.e. a personal profile, and a professional group and/or fan page.
7. Potential clients may search for your services via specific key words. If those words appear regularly in your tweets, or even your profile description, the chances of appearing in search results increases. Key words in both your target and source languages can boost your results as well.
8. Be proactive. Follow interesting profiles, and send messages to other users you would like to communicate with. Offer a special or free giveaway. Direct interested parties to your Proz.com profile, your website, or both.
9. Posting and/or responding to discussions within groups is an excellent way to raise your profile and become noticed by both direct clients, agencies, and fellow language professionals.
Facebook is one of many tools that can be used by linguists to both interact with outsourcers, potential clients and colleagues. As part of a solid marketing plan, the effective use of Facebook can raise a linguist’s profile and make them more noticeable to potential clients.
Suzanne Deliscar is a Canadian lawyer-linguist translating in the French-English and Spanish-English language pairs. Her focus is on official document and legal translation. She can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/suzannedeliscar. For free guide on how to use various Facebook features, please e-mail Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.