How effectively do you use social media for your freelance translation business?
It’s needless to say how important social media has become for small businesses and freelancers. The number of people going freelance seems to be on the rise. According to IPSE, there were 2.1 million freelancers in the UK in 2020 (this figure doesn’t include all self-employed people). Most freelance translators resort to social media to promote their services as it provides free publicity. Social media content can also play a crucial role in your online visibility and achieve a better SEO ranking for your website if you have one.
We are all aware of the main social media platforms mostly used by freelance translators such as Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and less commonly Pinterest. Let’s talk about my experience of each platform briefly.
LinkedIn is the most professional platform out of all of them and the whole audience consists of your professional contacts including people you work with, your translator colleagues, prospective clients, and other professional contacts from different sectors. As with all social media, LinkedIn uses algorithms to determine how many users see your posts. Your post’s popularity will depend on when you post it (according to this article from a highly respected marketing blog the best times to post on LinkedIn are Tuesday through Thursday, typically between the hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.), how many people like it as it’s shown on the timelines of people in your network if people like your post and, how many people comment on it. The platform is generally much quieter on weekends. You are advised to post things relevant to your sector and not post repetitively or post only once a day and make sure each post has good quality content. Making sure that your posts have a personal touch is a good idea too as simply sharing other people’s posts or just posting plain information, will probably not attract enough audience.
I would say that Twitter is perhaps the geekiest platform out of all of them for translation professionals. Twitter is synonymous with hashtags so it’s recommended to make good use of them and refer to other users’ handles or user names. You will find that as with other platforms there will be certain people generally engaging with each other, so initially, it might be more difficult to create engaging tweets on there if you don’t already have a circle of friends or like-minded professionals that you already know through personal contact regardless of how effectively you use it (and most certainly cliques exist on every social media platform). But there is one reality, it takes years to build a quality profile on any platform. I find it most useful and interesting if there is a certain hashtag and a good amount of engagement with it like the #ITIChat at the end of January when we talked about how Covid-19 affected the translation industry and translators.
Instagram is probably the platform where style and consistency matter the most. Quite a few of the translators I follow use specific templates and fonts for their posts so they are all kept consistent. You can use apps like Canva to do this. I feel that Instagram is a place where more personal stuff can be shared, especially through Stories. I post there occasionally but I now prefer to post more laid-back content about lifestyle or exercise etc. nowadays, if I get to it.
Facebook is the first social media platform that gained a wider and active audience around the world. It allows you to create a page for your business where you can post content and engage with your audience. My Facebook page has more than 1500 likes but most of the content I post there only seen by a tiny fraction of the people who liked the page. So, in essence, I hardly get any interaction through my Facebook page but again it serves a purpose in terms of visibility and backlinks for my website and I get a business query or two occasionally through it, although they are never anything significant. I am a member of many groups on there but I don’t engage with them that much. There is a good group called Ceviri Blog, for Turkish translators; I sometimes post translation-related questions about Turkish there and also post on our little group for Turkish translators and interpreters, based in the UK.
I almost forgot about what pinning was until I came across this article, according to which there are over 200 million monthly Pinterest users worldwide. I recently opened a business account and started using it again for sharing translation related resources. It’s especially useful for sharing own blog posts, sharing things like books, podcasts and articles about translation and anything else related to the language services industry in general.
I remember that a speaker at a conference mentioned that she uses it to share her portfolio. If you are using visuals to showcase individual items of your portfolio, it can also be great for that. And anything else about translation that you would like to share with others at the same time promoting your own business.
My favourite social media platforms
My favourite platforms are LinkedIn and Twitter. I find the content on LinkedIn very interesting, engaging, and informative. I am connected with and follow people from different sectors so I encounter content from different professionals such as copywriters, writers, and marketers which I find enlightening and inspiring. I like Twitter because it has some very knowledgeable users who aren’t active on LinkedIn and being on Twitter feels like sitting in a casual café and chatting to friendly strangers and friends, whereas being on LinkedIn feels more like sitting in a corporate canteen and talking to your colleagues that you are less acquainted with.
And the conclusion…
Each social media platform is different with unique features but some principles apply to them all when you are promoting yourself as a freelancer. You need to keep up with your social media presence not only from the point of engaging with other users and your audiences, but also to help with your online visibility and SEO ranking. It’s advisable to choose a couple of platforms that work the best for you and focus on them by creating quality, consistent and engaging content. And every now and then don’t forget to switch off to get that most needed break to recharge yourself! Lastly, I am proof that you can post pictures of your dog on any platform, there is no rule for that!
About the author:
My name is Ali Yildirim. I originally studied Classical Archaeology at the University of Istanbul, before coming to the UK in 2001 and working as an archaeologist for 2 years.
I have worked in the language services industry in various roles including as a teacher of Turkish, interpreter and bilingual teaching assistant before setting out as a freelance Turkish translator in 2005. I obtained a diploma in translation in 2012 and became a member of the Institute of Chartered Linguists in the same year and obtained a Chartered Translator status in 2019. I am also a qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and ISO 17100:2015 Qualified Translator.