This article is chapter 2 of the series “Social Media Marketing for translators, back to the basics”.
Part 1: Back to the basics & Introduction
Part 3: Online visibilty & Search Engine Optimization
Welcome back! As promised in the previous chapter, today we’ll go over Social Media and online reputation building, management /online credibility.
Online reputation & credibility: overview
At a glance, here’s the Wikipedia definition of the term Online reputation management:
Online reputation management (or monitoring) is the practice of monitoring the Internet reputation of a person, brand or business, with the goal of suppressing negative mentions entirely, or pushing them lower on search engine results pages to decrease their visibility. (For the small talk – Ebay were actually the ones who started the concept with their online rating system for vendors and buyers)
The definition above obviously works both ways – that is you can build your own reputation and managing it yourself, and Social Media allows you just to do that.
The purpose? Creating yourself a reputation and a credibility. Everything you publish, write, say, post on the Internet can be found by anyone if you wish so. This is an extremely powerful way of positioning you in whatever segment you want in the translation industry, to colleagues and potential clients. It’s your chance of showing the world what you can do, who you are, and establishing you as an expert in a given topic or field, as the professional to go to for that topic / field. Be it your actual translation specialty field, or any other activity – linguistic coaching, business skills training, etc. etc.
And here comes Social Media on stage – as an additional online reputation management tool: it allows this reputation building to be achieved bullet fast – within a couple months, if you work on it consistently and with regularity.
Some obvious tools for reputation management are LinkedIn and Xing recommendations, retweets and engagement on Twitter, shares and Likes on Facebook, +’s on Google +, and not to mention the recommendation systems on translation portals, like ProZ.com’s WWA and LWA features.
The other side of the coin
The coin does have another side, though. While Social Media is this powerful way of helping you build you a reputation and a credibility, it’s as powerful a way of destroying them, just as quickly!
Remember, you’re a freelance translator: you’re a CEO. You’re a business person. So many in the industry complain that our profession is not taken seriously, they feel undervalued, not recognized… But if we don’t take ourselves seriously for a start and do brand ourselves in a fully inappropriate way, what can we expect?
You’d be surprised at how many translators lose potential clients everyday without knowing it, just because of what they post on online forums or groups or write in their blogs. While they may be excellent translators, while checking them, PMs read stuff that really does not show the translator under his/her best light… and just moves on to the next candidate.
Sharing: use your common sense
So be very careful what you do and write. It’s like being constantly on the edge – and if you feel that you’re on the edge, it’s perfectly normal. My best advice is to use your common sense. It’s your best ally!
In short, don’t behave online in a way you never would in real life when meeting a prospect client or partner. Just don’t write things you’d never say while networking at a professional industry event. And in doubt, refrain from posting. Better safe than sorry!
Keep your political and religious opinions to yourself, and whatever opinions or ideas you know don’t belong in a business interaction and a marketing context.
Likewise, and I’m going to put this “brutally” – do you really think sharing your family barbecue pictures, your Foursquare check-ins or your workouts statistics on social platforms via sport applications, like “I burnt 400 calories by running 4 km, yay!” (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook – or worse, cross-posting to all three together), is relevant to your professional contacts? Not only are you spamming their news feeds or timelines and this is extremely annoying, but A. they could not care less and B. you’re giving a really wrong image of yourself – and run the ultimate risk: that they unfollow you, remove you from their contacts or unsuscribe from your updates. Then you’re done – good luck getting them back.
Do you really want an agency PM you never met to see pictures of you last summer, in a swimming suit, with a beer in your hand or whatever? I have hundreds of juicy examples, but I think my point is clear. Here’s my favourite, though: a translator I met at a conference back in 2009 is in my Facebook contacts, like many. I was slowly getting annoyed by seeing self-portraits of her in front of a plate of spaghettis, in front of a glass, in front of an ice-cream, etc. everytime I would open my Facebook. Until the day she took a picture of herself naked in her bathroom mirror (from behind, gentlemen! ;) ) to show the positive effects of the gym on her behind. She posted that picture on Facebook with the comment “Check that bum out, Pilates is really working!” Well. I’m glad that Pilates seems to be working for her, but I really could not care less and as a PM, I really don’t need to see my translators’ behinds. Why am I even seeing this? She probably meant to share that with her buddies and family but did not even take the time to use Facebook’s awesome privacy features allowing you to choose who sees what for each single thing you post. Needless to say, I removed her from my contacts and she lost any chance of getting any project at all from us…
Personal vs. Professional
I’m not at all against sharing, quite the contrary. Just saying: share wisely and with the relevant people. What’s personal shall be shared only with personal contacts on suited platforms .
Best advice I can give you if (and when) you also use Social Media for keeping in touch with friends, buddies and family is following:
- LinkedIn, Xing, translation networks, all pure business networking sites: personal stuff has nothing to do in here so that’s settled.
- Facebook: Facebook’s privacy settings are really complete and perfect – and they made them simpler a few weeks ago, so you have no excuse! You can organize your contacts in groups and choose default settings for each group. You can choose exactly who sees what.
- Twitter: the ideal is to maintain 2 separate accounts as there’s no way to make a given Tweet visible only to certain people. It’s all public. So one professional account, where you follow and are followed only by business contacts, colleagues, peers, partners. And one personal account, under a pseudonym. Why a pseudonym? It gives you the freedom to follow whoever you want, share and say whatever you want. If a client/employer searches your name on Google, this Twitter account will not appear in the search results.
- Google +: Its “Circles” features allows you to do just the same than Facebook groups – you are in control of who sees what.
Mind your profiles picture(s)
A vital and underestimated element in reputation management and giving a professional image are profiles pictures – I know this has been said and repeated over and over again, but don’t put a picture of your last vacations, your dog, your wedding, your kids, your hamster, your Grandmother, or you at a bar with sunglasses and a cigarette. Don’t use some sort of animated cartoon.
Likewise, and I’m dead serious: don’t put a photo of your ultrasound (or your wife’s). Seriously, congrats on the pregnancy, and we all understand that you are so filled with thrill you want to share it with the entire world and scream in joy, but is this appropriate? Would you put that photo on your business card? Do you really, deeply, seriously think that you’ll get any job from an agency when they interact with … your womb (or your wife’s)?
Don’t laugh! I’ve seen such profile pictures on a business platform… The photo(s) you’ll use in your various online professional profiles will be the image of your brand accross the Web. It’s the first thing people see wen they come to your profiles, and that photo will be “branded” in your followers and contacts’ minds, so you have to take extra care of it. Use a professional photo, take the time and the extra money to go to a photographer’s studio.
Recommendations & Endorsements
Last but certainly not least, be careful with the recommendations displayed in your LinkedIn profiles. While they are a really great way of establishing your credibility as a professional, they can destroy it just as well – I invite you to read one of my previous articles on that: “The tricky question of LinekdIn recommendations“.
The best tip I can give you is, whenever you are about to post something, ask yourself “Is this suitable for public view everywhere on the Internet?” “Who do I want to see this / not see this?”
Finally – you want to be taken seriously? Then give a professional image of yourself online. Your best allies to achieve this are Social sites and Networking sites… and your common sense. So, use them!
Stay tuned for Part 3 on Search Engine Optimization and Visiblity!
All your comments, suggestions, thoughts are more than welcome, so go for it!