On November 2, 2018, some time before 9 AM, I was setting up shop in my dad’s study, with a view over Broad Cove on Cape Cod. The coffee in my cup was steaming and strong. As always, I first checked my emails and to my surprise, I had an email from Jost in my inbox. Someone had nominated me to curate the content of his curation rotation Twitter account TranslationTalk, and he was asking me if I was willing to accept.
It took me a moment to realize that he was talking about THE TranslationTalk Twitter account, where I’d seen so many esteemed colleagues curate content before. I was excited! We discussed possible dates and agreed that I’d take over on March 4, 2019. Back then, that was next year!
I was so excited that I immediately took out my notepad and started jotting down first ideas. I instantly knew I’d want to talk about social media, client relationships, and how experienced translators can share their knowledge with new professionals. I am passionate about all three topics, especially about the latter. I guess it is what you’d expect from someone who was awarded Mentor of the Year by the ProZ.com community in 2017.
The first thing I did in the first week of November, was to prepare the visuals I wanted to include with the Tweets about social media and the copy to go along with them. One for each day. And then I forgot about it all. In December, we traveled back to Germany and then on to the Czech Republic, where many things happened between Christmas and now. For one, we decided to stop traveling full-time and find a house here. But that’s a different story.
Then, at the end of February, when I was looking at my appointments for the first week of March, I remembered my “assignment”. So I went back into my dedicated TranslationTalk folder, checked if I still liked my visuals and started writing the additional Tweets. It was also then when I decided to tweet one German Tweet per day and I realized that my last official day would be International Women’s Day! So I made sure to include five posts honoring women in translation, too. A day before I was scheduled to take over, I had written down 5 to 6 Tweets for each day from Monday to Friday. I wasn’t sure if it was too much and I knew I could always switch them around or scratch them.
The fun begins
Then, this past Monday, March 4, 2019, came around. The guys had already given me access to the account on that Sunday and I did send off a little Tweet to share my excitement, but the hard work began on Monday. And it was hard work! If you’re not used to monitoring an account for the better part of your day, you can easily find yourself dwelling on Twitter all day. And I won’t lie: I have never had this much engagement on Twitter with my own account [not that I show up there regularly]. So every time a new notification popped up, I became excited like a little girl on her birthday.
“I don't really understand why people are so interested in me, personally. I'm just a curator. I'm just telling people things I think are cool.”
– Elise Andrew, British writer, born 1989
When you’re a marketing translator and when you’ve consulted clients for their own social media presence since 2010, the first thing you naturally dig into is statistics. So here’s a quick overview:
When I took over the TranslationTalk account, it had 3,404 followers. When I signed off, the account had 3,444. What a beautiful number. This account grows its number of followers organically and the curve is quite steady. If you want to compare, in February of 2019, it had 3,277 followers.
My own numbers didn’t change that much. When I started the curation week, I had 859 followers and when I signed off 6 days later, it was 877. So if you feel so inclined to do so, please visit my Twitter. :D The number of accounts I follow, however, went up by about 40.
My most popular Tweet by far was a question for experienced translators about what their most important advice for people new to the profession would be. This Tweet had stunning 7,949 impressions and 157 total engagements. Feel free to check out the tweet and you will find some amazing advice in the responses.
A question for the more experienced #translators / #interpreters: What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give someone new to the business? I know this has been asked a lot. But we can’t share enough of these gold nuggets!
— TranslationTalk / Tanya (@translationtalk) March 5, 2019
From Monday to Friday
Monday we discussed Twitter, CPD, branding, and the upcoming #WomenInTranslation Tweets. One comment that stuck out was shared on the CPD Tweet. A young translator said she would not be able to attend conferences she’d like to for budget reasons. This has had me thinking about a “Sponsor a Translator” program. Because is it not those new to the profession who need these conferences and opportunities to learn from peers the most? Definitely some food for thought right there.
Tuesday was about Facebook, the above-mentioned advice for translators new to freelancing, and client FAQ. It was a pretty intense day with a really good thread. The colleagues on Twitter shared some valuable tips.
Wednesday we talked about Instagram, and the things we love about freelancing. There was also a little #TweetToImpress challenge where I shared some feedback on the introductions some of the followers shared with us. The most common piece of advice I gave was to make your introduction less about yourself, but about the results your work can achieve for clients. So rather than saying something like“My name is Jane Doe and I am a French translator specializing in tourism,” I suggested something along the lines of “Hoteliers frequently cater to French tourists turn to me so that they can communicate with their guests in their native language throughout the entire customer journey, from booking to review.” Of course, this can only be a starting point. Creating a clear and concise introduction takes time. But our introduction is definitely our most important message, and when it is carefully crafted, it can serve as the foundation upon which we can build our entire branding concept. One commenter said that she was learning so much from me this week and that made it all worthwhile. Mission accomplished!
Thursday we briefly touched upon YouTube. Guess not many translators and interpreters feel like doing video? So if you’re an outgoing person, perhaps that might be your chance to go get ‘em?! I could very well imagine a translator specialized in the catering and hospitality industry doing short clips on site and sharing them via YouTube. Or interpreters, explaining different setups, sharing how they train their voice, or showing off their written notes (from public events, maybe) to give possible clients a glimpse behind the scenes. The most fun thread was about annoying things freelancers do that make us cringe. Finally, we compared the use of different hardware (Windows vs. iOS) in a poll.
What’s the deal with hardware among translators and interpreters? Not talking about accessory devices, such as tablets or mobile phones. What kind of computer do you use for your actual work? Me, a Mac.
— TranslationTalk / Tanya (@translationtalk) March 7, 2019
Friday I asked about blogs worth following but the response was nada. Does no one read blogs anymore? It was also the only day where my German tweet caught some traction. It was about the non-existent benefits of having a profile on XING (as a freelancer). We closed the day talking about advice for direct clients, as in SMBs and solopreneurs, and discussed our working hours.
10 things I learned curating the content for the TranslationTalk account on Twitter
So, what did I learn this week? Some things I learned were new to me, other times, this week confirmed what I already knew. So without further ado, these are my 10 takeaways:
[confirmed] As always, it proved good to show up prepared. I had started putting together the topics and tweets I wanted to share for this week back in November, right after @jeromobot asked me to be a curator this week. This allowed me to focus on the interaction rather than finding things to tweet about.
[new] My anxiety to show up in front of such a huge audience was totally unnecessary. Those who weren’t interested in what I had to say simply didn’t engage. And when someone didn’t agree with what I had to share, they told me so in a respectful manner. I think the T&I folk is generally a friendly and supportive one.
[confirmed] Translators can be super funny. Especially when they are in their comfort zone, talking about word-nerd stuff. And let’s be honest, we are good at having fun with words.
[confirmed] It’s always a good idea to make it easy for the “newbies” to participate, and to create a space where they can feel safe to express their views, ideas, questions. Personally, I think it’s our moral duty as experienced translators and interpreters to collectively take them under our wings, given that our profession is regulated so little.
[new] I wasn’t sure if I had anything valuable to share in this new setting. I learned that I do and that’s a great feeling. Yes, I allow myself to own the good stuff in life, too.
[new] Twitter can be super fun. But boy, you can also spend a lot of time there. So in the future, I will show up more on my own account. I will also aim to have more meaningful interactions. (Maybe I should unfollow some news outlets and accounts that report about Trump’s shortcomings all day, every day. I know he’s awful. No need to constantly be reminded on Twitter.)
[confirmed] The need for an ongoing and respectful discourse is huge and has been as long as I can remember. As people drifted in and out of threads, I realized once again that many of us more experienced translators have been repeating the same over and over again over the years, and so it’s easy to get frustrated sometimes, hearing the same questions over and over again. Truth is, every time we repeat something, there’s bound to be a fresh pair of ears listening. Or eyes glued to the screen. Sharing is indeed caring. Especially when it comes to knowledge and learnings. Nothing will get better in our profession if we make every new generation of translators and interpreters go through the same crap as the generations before them. Pardon my French. And we best treat them with the respect and friendliness we hoped for when we started out.
[new] I’ve made some new friends this week, found new sources of inspiration, and got to virtually shake hands with people who I’d noticed before but wasn’t really paying attention to. Curating the content for TranslationTalk made me pay more attention to their tweets. I am super grateful for that.
[confirmed] There is no single correct way to do things as a freelancer. We are all different and what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for others and vice versa. And that’s great! It makes our world a little more colorful, conversations a little more interesting, and allows us to cater to all kinds of different clients.
[new] It’s not that hard to write engaging content when you have an audience. Now how to get more than 3,000 followers for my own account? Hint: @mrsdivicom.
I’d like to thank Alexander Drechsel (@adrechsel) and Jost Zetzsche (@jeromobot) for entrusting me with their wonderful project. I definitely learned a lot this week. I would also like to thank the person who nominated me in the first place. I still don’t know who you are, but I am kind of enjoying the fact. And, of course, I want to thank my family, because they had to do pretty much without me this entire week. Work had to be done and the account didn’t take care of itself. But they made sure I never ran out of water, coffee and tea. In that order!
Last but not least, I want to thank all of you who joined me this week. I appreciated every single retweet, every single like, and of course all your wonderful, inspiring, interesting, thought-provoking, hilarious, and honest responses. I look forward to keeping in touch with you.
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Thank you, Tanya. I had a lot of fun and it is impossible to participate in TTalk (my nickname for the account) without learning from the experience. And it is nice to see all that you did to prepare. Cool tips.
Thanks for your comment Gio. Yes, it is true. I am truly grateful for the experience! It will be so much more fun, following the account now. I mean I checked in every now an then before, although I wasn’t really on Twitter that often. With this experience behind me, it has become something special for me. :o)