First #xl8SMM Twitter chat

The first Social Media marketing for translators (#xl8SMM) Twitter chat was held this past Wednesday. A lot of interesting points and questions have been raised.

Below is the transcript of the chat, as promised. I “cleaned” it up a bit for an easier reading, removing most hashtags and grouping Tweets not chronologically but per question/topic of discussion.

Thanks again to the participants of this first chat for their active and passionate contributions! Hoping to see more translators at the next #xl8SMM chat on Wednesday, October 5th from 4pm to 5pm GMT (18h00 to 19h00 in Western and Central Europe).

ADiamantidis: Hi everybody and welcome to the first #xl8SMM Twitter chat for translators, to exchange and learn about Social Media Marketing in translation!

mstelmaszak: Hi :) That’s a great idea! Thanks @ADiamantidis for organising this #xl8SMM chat!
ADiamantidis: You’re welcome Marta :) I’m curious on how this will turn out, who knows, maybe we’ll repeat it on a regular basis
suzannedeliscar: Greetings from Canada!
Elzosim: Hello from Greece!
intralingo: Hello all! I’m joining in from Costa Rica.
intralingo: Great turnout! Clearly this is of interest/needed!
ADiamantidis: Ok let us get started! Who wants to start? Anybody has a question re. a social network, a strategy, etc.? #xl8SMM

mstelmaszak: I wanted to ask quite a general question! What makes Social Media so appealing and interesting for us, translators?
ADiamantidis: I’d say many reasons: 1. We’re “geeks”, in front of the screen all day- 2. it’s a lonely job, SM allows us to “be” with people, and 3 well it’s a great marketing and networking tool!

Romina_Bona: it’s not a question but an observation. Very few translators take a proactive role in [social media marketing] Do you agree?
ADiamantidis: I agree – I see 2 reasons for this. Many translators tend to be very conservative and don’t embrace easily new technologies and well, they lack time – social media marketing is extremely high consuming if you want palpable results.
mstelmaszak: I think it’s partly because translators are quite introvert and usually “receptive” in what they do
Romina_Bona: However I still believe that translators using [social media marketing] actively are a minority
intralingo: I’d agree, Romina. Comparatively few translators partake in social media.
ADiamantidis: oh absolutely. For me it’s mostly a lack of time and a lack of “education” – they don’t see the point.
mstelmaszak: I think that the general opinion makes translators believe that [social media marketing] is for kids or “brain dead” (real quote from an #xl8tor)
suzannedeliscar: I agree with Romina. I find that translators are very adverse to using social media.The problem is that many linguists do not see themselves as business owners as well, just as linguists.
ADiamantidis: Well, they are to many things, no? ;) Remember the rise of the CAT-Tools?
mstelmaszak: That’s why I added this “business” angle to my blog! Agree!
suzannedeliscar: Linguists have to realize that social media is to be used used to build their brand and their business.
mstelmaszak: Well, we have to convince them that they really ARE running a business…

Romina_Bona: And would you say there is a favorite one among translators? #xl8SMM #Twitter maybe?
ADiamantidis:, definitely ;) LinkedIn, most of them are there. Twitter? No, still too many see it as a playground

intralingo: I wonder if we have to partake in *all* social media, or if choosing one medium is enough.
mstelmaszak: I think that we all have limits of our capacity… I can barely cover Twitter and LinkedIn, and I’m working on Facebook
intralingo: Exactly, Marta. This all takes time, and in the meantime I’m supposed to be translating/writing! ;-) #xl8SMM
ADiamantidis: mmmh either – All, definitely not – no time and many are useless for translators. But just one is too limited. I consider translation networks (, etc.) to be Social networks – so those ones are a must anyway. LinkedIn is a must as well, Twitter too.

intralingo: @ADiamantidis Which are your top picks?
ADiamantidis: LinkedIn and business networks in general (Viadeo, Xing…) and Twitter. I’d focus on those first if I were you.
Elzosim: I would also agree on LinkedIn. It’s more business-orientated network.
ADiamantidis: Ah LinkedIn is an absolute must anyway. Your clients are there and it has amazing networking options and Google ranking.
ADiamantidis: Plus of course translation specific networks, but they are a must anyway.
intralingo: I haven’t been on #xl8or networks for a while but found the level of professionalism years ago to be frustrating.
ADiamantidis: There is everything and anything in those networks – you have to differentiate yourselves.

Romina_Bona: Also do you also actually work as translators? Doesn´t #xl8SMM activity distract you? Is it an activity that you can multitask?
mstelmaszak: I have a strategy and I never let myself spend more time on that than I planned #xl8SMM
intralingo: I can’t actually multitask. I dedicate some time to do that exclusively each day.
Romina_Bona: Right! Beign actively following discussions on Twitter for example is incompatible with translating
ADiamantidis: Well in my case I do translate occasionnally but I am Marketing manager for a transation agency. SMM is a very important part of our marketing strategy. They hired me to do it so they could focus on translating. Which allowed me to get trained in social media marketing.
suzannedeliscar: There are ways to automate your marketing through social media sites, so that minimal time is spent.
mstelmaszak: but then, if you’re too automated, you’re loosing it!
suzannedeliscar: The vast majority of your involvement should be automated. But some planned direct contact is important too.
ADiamantidis: No. Automating updates is a serious no-no in SMM. Only Twitter marketing can support a bit of automation. I only automate on Twitter and check in on the 9 accounts I manage at least 4 times a day.
intralingo: Yes exactly. Without direct contact, I don’t think it will work.
mstelmaszak: @suzannedeliscar I don’t agree with you on that one. I think that we can’t really plan interactions with people in advance.
ADiamantidis: Well the whole point of social media is *Social*… Too much automation always backfires
mstelmaszak: even Klout measures your involvement, not just links you post.
ADiamantidis: Ah Klout is a whole other thing. It’s not an automation tool. It’s just a measurement tool.
mstelmazsak: That’s what I meant, Anne! It measures your involvement, like having discussions, not just posting links on Twitter.
ADiamantidis: absolutely, but I mean it’s not a tool that automates your updates. “Automation tools” is the family of such tools
suzannedeliscar: Another type of planned direct messages is your introduction when you add a new friend or connection.
ADiamantidis: agreed. I keep repeating in webinar to personalize the invitation message.

ADiamantidis: At the end of the day, before talking about time investment, you have to decide what you want to achieve with social media marketing. A 30 year experienced translator with 6 end clients that provide him enough work and money has no interest in SMM. Why would he?
mstelmaszak: as you said, it depends what he would like to achieve through a SM campaign
ADiamantidis: mmh, why would he? If he does not need new clients nor new partners, he won’t see the point in this massive investment
mstelmaszak: exactly. Social media is a strategy as any other, so if he doesn’t want to achieve anything more than he already has…
suzannedeliscar: But even large companies that have been stable for decades invest time in social media.
ADiamantidis: mmh if you’re refering to non translation companies, then it’s a whole other scheme.
suzannedeliscar: Hi Anne, what is the difference with non-translation companies when it comes to social media?
ADiamantidis: Well wow that depends on the industries. But B2C companies for example MUST be on Social Media now to interact with their end clients (us, consumers), promote discounts, products, brands, etc. Other B2B companies as well – in some industries it’s easier than others. But B2C is a different world. Translation on the other hand, it’s a challenge: freelancers vs. agencies -> Client vs. end client.
suzannedeliscar: That’s true. In any industry where you have entities competing with freelancers, there is a challenge.
ADiamantidis: exactly. Our industry is in rails. Freelancers -> agencies -> end clients. SMM is not the same as a consequence.
mstelmazsak: Do you think we’ll be able to eliminate agencies thanks to social media marketing?
ADiamantidis: HAHAHAAAA I certainly hope not or I’ll be out of a job! ;) Well I could then open a Social Media Management business ;) but more seriously, I don’t think so. SMM does not have that kind of power anyway. And agencies won’t disappear that easily but this is another topic.
mstelmaszak: but don’t you think that some companies / industries / products could loose on using too much Social Media?
ADiamantidis: yes they could. This is why there’s a new branche in SMM appearing called “Social Media Crisis Management”
mstelmaszak: Like advertising luxury watches, jewellery or expensive cars on Twitter? Can’t see that happen!
ADiamantidis: hahhaa it’s already happening ;). Same on Facebook. Not on LinkedIn though – business networks are not such channels.
mstelmaszak: Ok, I’ll put it that way: if I’m looking for a wedding ring, I will still be tempted by a fully-winged advertising campaign in a newspaper, not a SM campaign. I think it’s the matter of importance, value.
ADiamantidis: Ok. But if for example, Lidl posts on their Twitter that today you get a discount on potatoes if u mention a given hashtag…

mstelmaszak: And another SM dilemma: what’s more important, having lots of weak connections, or only few, but real and stronger? #xl8SMM
ADiamantidis: Good question. I’d say both but that depends on which site. On Linkedin, the more the better IMO because a big network gives you access to 2nd + 3rd degrees connections of your connections.
mstelmaszak: I totally agree! My LinkedIn is broad and loose, my Twitter is closer and I actually got to know quite a lot of people.
ADiamantidis: Exactly! And if you seek end-clients, then your LinkedIn network MUST be wide and not limited to translation people.

mstelaszak: @ADiamantidis Do you recommend any SMM training and certs? Can we exchange about that later?
ADiamantidis: Sure, if you have time and money! The first course I took was in many modules, 100 USD pro module #Glups
mstelmaszak: I usually learn from free resources and my SMM trained friends, but I’ll gladly have a look
ADiamantidis: There re some great free ressources but of course they’re not giving away all the tricks. I can train you if you want. I do private coaching/training on SMM for businesses.
mstelmaszak: I did some of SMM at lse this year, I’m looking forward to getting my certficate
suzannedeliscar: I have free e-books on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as a starter. Anne is the expert though.
suzannedeliscar: Feel free to message me and I will send you 1, 2 or all 3 e-books.
mstelmaszak: @suzannedeliscar Sure, I’ll do that after our chat, thanks!
Romina_Bona: @suzannedeliscar I’m interested too!
suzannedeliscar: Anyone who would like copies of the social media e-books can send me a direct message or a mention with their e-mail address.

ADiamantidis: ok, so à propos Klout, anybody has any questions on it? #xl8SMM
intralingo: Yes! I signed up for it, find the stats/info useful. But what about giving +Ks etc.? Haven’t delved that far…
ADiamantidis: hahaa ok. Giving +K allows helping someone gain influence on a topic Klout determined for them.
mstelmazsak: Yes, these +K are a bit weird… Making Klout a bit… biased and unreliable?
ADiamantidis: You can give +K to absolutely anyone. No need to be connected to that person in any way. You have a max of 5 +K/day.
mstelmaszak: and that’s what I find a bit disturbing… and that’s what puts me off in Klout.
ADiamantidis: what disturbs you Marta? :) the fact that Klout determines the topics for you?
mstelmaszak: The fact that others can give you +K :)
ADiamantidis: I see. Good point, why do you dislike it?
mstelmaszak: +K to me is like judging a campaign based on how many people said they liked it, instead of how many were influenced
ADiamantidis: mmh I see your point and it’s a good one. I think though that people giving +K are (most of them) sincerely thinking that you ARE influential in a given topic. When I give +K to someone, I think “does this guy influence me on that?”

mstelmaszak: Here’s one question from me on Klout: how do they determine your topics?
ADiamantidis: An algorithm calculates engagement from your audience (retweets, mentions, discussions….)
mstelmaszak: It makes me wonder why I’m influential only about translation, while I share so much other things.
ADiamantidis: Well there are many things to consider: 1. Klout only works in English, so all your tweets etc. in other languages are not taken into account, 2. You must be patient, sometimes their algorithm takes somr time to update, and 3. it depends on what your audience likes the most i.e. which tweets wth which keywords their retweet, engage, etc. the most. Hopes it clarifies? ;)
mstelmaszak: Ok, that’s clearer for me now, thanks!

Romina_Bona: I must go now! I look forward to the transcript. Anyway I’ll check the #xl8SMM tweets. Later!
mstelmazsak: thanks for this chat, I’ll be going now :) It was great to chat about #xl8SMM today!
Elzosim: Thanks for this initiative, Anne. It was a really interesting chat about #xl8SMM
ADiamantidis: Thank you very much everybody who made it to the first Social Media for translators chat today! Next week, same time?
mstelmaszak: Count on me next week!
suzannedeliscar: Thanks to @ADiamantidis for the first Social Media for Translators Chat today.
FwdTranslations: Will try to join #xl8SMM next week. Can I ask questions in advance if I can’t make it? Enjoyed catching up via the hashtag.
ADiamantidis: FwdTranslations: Sure you can ;) Hope to see you next week though!

Google+: misunderstood or underestimated?

The funny thing about this post is that I started it yesterday, just a few hours before Google opened the gates to Google+. Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you are surely aware by now that Google’s social network is now open to the public. I promise this timing was pure coincidence!

In fact, I have had a post about Google+ in mind for a few days now. I get a lot of questions about Google+. “Anne, what do you think of it? Do you think translators should be on G+ as well? Can it help you bring in more business?”
Actually, you should not even be asking yourselves this question. Of course I think you have to be on Google+. There are many reasons, but the biggest one – and this alone should suffice to convince you – is that it will boost your Google ranking. Well yes, it is, after all, a product from Google itself and as such, its ranking on the search engine beats those of Facebook, LinkedIn,, Xing, Translators Café, Twitter, or Wherever Else You Are. Which does not mean you should not be on those – as explained during my last Social Media webinar this past Friday, sites like LinkedIn and are an absolute must for you as translators, no questions asked. But you should also seriously consider being on Google+ too. Not to mention these +1 buttons popping up more or less all over the web. Are you aware that the more +1s a page gets, the higher its Google ranking?

I can hear you sighing/whining/screaming (take your pick) “Oh God, yet ANOTHER social network”! I get these types of reactions on Facebook and Twitter, as do many of my social media colleagues.

So, yes. Yet another network. And as is also the case with social media in general, you should not bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening (see my last article on that topic), because it’s happening anyway, with or without you, and whether you like it or not. Google+ is here and you can sigh all you want, it will not disappear because you sighed or protested (sound familiar? Well, it sounds a lot like the rise of MT and the reaction of many translators, but that’s another matter). The good news is no one is forcing you to register on Google+.

What I am expressing here is just my opinion on why I think you should register anyway, but at the end of the day, it is obviously your decision.

So Google+, the newest kid in the social networking playground, is in my eyes completely misunderstood. People keep insisting on comparing it with Facebook. Don’t.. They are not comparable. True, it seems Google + was started with the clear goal of becoming the new Facebook and relegating Zuckerberg’s network to a paltry second. That was an ambitious project: when G+ was released in beta phase last July, Facebook had hit the 750-million-user mark. It has been there for years anyway and is much more mature. No discussion there on the superiority of Facebook.

During the beginning of the beta phase, when people could get on G+ by invitation only, was a stroke of sheer marketing genius. Curiosity, together with this “exclusive” side (yay, I got an invite!), plus also with perhaps fed by boredom on the part of some Facebook users, drew 20 million to G+. That was a lightning-fast increase and then suddenly, like a balloon, it seemed to pop, deflate a bit, and then stagnate. I remember reading somewhere in early September that around 80% of the profiles created were inactive. Wow. Some people even started to bury Google+. Comments from my contacts on Facebook or Twitter were along the lines of “Google+ is dead”, “Google+ is empty”, etc.

Well, it’s not that simple. Those 80%-or-so who had rushed into G+ before quickly deserting it were expecting it to become the new Facebook – and rightly so, as it was more or less the announced goal. But here’s the thing: you can’t expect loyal Facebookers to desert their accounts there (accounts they’ve had for three or four years), and along with them, all their photos, apps, friends, etc. And you can expect even fewer of their friends to follow. They’re too busy playing Farmville. Nor can you expect them to “clone” their Facebook profile on their G+ account. What’s the point of doing that? I already have all my friends on Facebook, I don’t need to have them on Google+ as well. I already share with them what I want to share on Facebook, why would I reshare it with them on Google+? Why share the same things in two places with the exact same contacts? Pointless.

So in that way, yes, you could say that Google+ “failed”. But, hey, ultimately, it’s the users who make the network. Now tell me: if we really did not need yet another social network (sigh/whine), do you think the people who came to G+ from the very beginning and who have been using it every day during the entire beta phase would have stayed and loyally continued to use it for three months if it did not yield something different than Facebook and Twitter?

The answer is no.

When the beta version of G+ was released, it was a newborn. Everything still had to be defined, the unwritten etiquette, the unwritten codes that every network has. Users came in to a blank new territory and they did with it what they wanted. They used this new playground the way they wanted to use it, and differently from the other networks. Ultimately it’s the users who made G+: it just took a different path than the one that was originally planned.

So today Google+ is nothing like Facebook – which is why any comparison is obsolete and utterly irrelevant. And I can hear you ask “Ok, maybe. But what is it then?”

Well, to me, Google + is somewhere between Twitter and LinkedIn. See? Facebook is totally irrelevant when it comes to making comparisons, which is why I think they have no reason to be as scared of G+ as they seem to be (as evidenced by the major releases during the past few days, including the “Subscribe” button, enhanced privacy/visibility options, not to mention the sudden flirting with Twitter). Don’t be afraid, Facebook. Google+ and you are not playing in the same segment (anymore).

Google+ has quickly evolved into a network where you can engage with complete strangers (like Twitter), without having to “intrude” – you can choose to add them to your circles but they don’t have to add you back at all in order for you to see their updates. Sound familiar? It is. It’s the Twitter model. “I follow you because I’m interested in your updates, but you don’t have to follow me in return. As you wish.” Yet another huge difference with Facebook, a platform designed to help you connect with “the people in your life”. Facebook rules actually prohibit users from sending friend requests to complete strangers, did you know that?

That’s one point. So what’s the difference between Google+ and Twitter? I see three major differences:
1. On G+, you don’t have a 140 character text limit
2. Unlike Twitter, it is not akin to some enormous room where everybody is shouting and talking at the same time.
3. The “real name” policy on Google+. It is a huge difference. You have to use your real name, you can’t hide behind a (fill in your favorite celebrity’s name here) pseudonym.

Sound familiar? It is. It’s like LinkedIn.

Aha. But hang on. Comparing LinkedIn to Google+, that’s daring… Well you’re right. LinkedIn is a pure business network with amazing and powerful business networking tools that G+ does not have, no questions asked. But the LinkedIn etiquette, unwritten, dislikes it when you invite strangers to join your network – you’re taking the risk of being perceived as a spammer. Besides, they need to accept your invite if you want to see their full profile, recommendations, and updates. And since they have no idea who you are, most of them will not accept.

So in short: on G+, you can follow complete strangers without requiring them to follow you in return and without sending them an invite that they would need to approve (like Twitter) and everybody is uses a real name, which really is a guarantee of a much better quality of the exchanges and content shared (like LinkedIn). Why do you think most of the exchanges on G+ over the past weeks have been business exchanges? More informal than LinkedIn, but business-related nonetheless.

I consider Google+ to be a business network. With its really great and user-friendly Circles, well it can also be a personal network at the same time, just in case I get a few close friends tired of playing Farmville. However, 90% of my contacts on G+ are business contacts who are neither in my LinkedIn network (why should they be, we’re already connected on G+, it’s more informal and it’s more simple to exchange stuff on G+), nor in my Twitter contacts (why would we follow each other on Twitter? I can get their full updates, without the 140-character limit, and what they post doesn’t get lost in the jungle of tweets, with a lifespan of a few minutes and a 60% chance that I never see them).

This article is already long enough, so I will not go into the details of what the individual features of Google+ can do for your business. Take Hangouts, for example: where else can you make video calls (conference calls…) for free with up to 10 people? Video calls that you can even record, keep and share.

Watch out though: just having a nice profile on G+ is not enough – just like any other social network, you need to be proactive: post content, recommend content, engage, search people relevant to your keywords (leads, prospects, colleagues) and add them to your circles. Most will add you back, because this is the same mentality/etiquette as Twitter where most users follow you once you follow them. Build a large network on G+ and interact with it. The more they +1 your content, the higher its visibility. The more they engage with you, the better it impacts your overall online influence (in fact, Klout integrated Google+ into its influence measuring tool just today? Surely that’s a sign that G+ is here to stay…?).

Last but not least, Google+’s user-friendly, clear and simple interface makes it an extremely comfortable tool and the pace on the G+ timeline is much slower than anywhere else, which is really relaxing and gives plenty of time to read the latest news posted by your contacts. Which, in other words, means more visibility for your content. Wow. Just imagine that. Your content not only gets a better Google ranking than anywhere else, it’s also more visible there than anywhere else.

Maybe that’s because the network was still in its beta phase and hence limited? Maybe now that it’s public, it will change. I don’t know. The next weeks will be decisive, but I really think Google+ is here to stay – that is, if Google allows it develop in that direction and gives up on the idea of making it the new Facebook. That would be a pity. Google is really on to something here, something user-defined and which could really lead to a major success, finally opening the social networking doors to the search giant.

Wait and see. But do consider joining G+ while you are waiting. If this network ever becomes another loud room where everybody is shouting and talking at the same time, then you may want to join it and enjoy its quiet before it does. I can assure you, it won’t be time wasted.

[ October 28th, 2011: The updated version of this article is now available on the Social Media Today website here ]

EMA news: electronic submission of information on medicines

Electronic submission of information on medicines


The European Medicines Agency is preparing for the implementation of the electronic submission of information on medicines.

This is the first deliverable of the new pharmacovigilance legislation. It requires:

  • the Agency to publish the format for the electronic submission of information on medicinal products for human use by 2 July 2011;
  • marketing-authorisation holders to submit information to the Agency electronically on all medicinal products for human use authorised or registered in the European Union by 2 July 2012, using this format;
  • marketing-authorisation holders to inform the Agency of any new or varied marketing authorisations granted in the EU as of 2 July 2012, using this format.

Details on the legal provisions and requirements can be found in:

Phases of implementation

The Agency is applying a phased approach to support the pharmaceutical industry with the implementation of the electronic submission.

Phase one: Notification of the electronic submission format

The Agency published the format for the notification of the electronic submission of medicinal product information in July 2011, which lists all of the data elements required, including the description of the characteristics of the substances contained in medicinal products. The Agency updated this information in September 2011 to include the XML Schema Definition (XSD) for the individual data elements.

The Agency has published a list of controlled vocabularies, which companies should use to fill in fields of the extended EudraVigilance product report messages (XEVPRMs). This list is updated periodically. The XSD schema files and naming conventions for substances are also available.

Phase two: Electronic submission by marketing-authorisation holders

Marketing-authorisation holders can now submit information electronically using tools developed in-house by pharmaceutical companies or software vendors. XSD-compliant product information can be submitted via the EudraVigilance Gateway.

By the end of January 2012, marketing-authorisation holders will also be able to use data-entry and submission tools provided by the Agency. These tools will be designed for small and medium-sized enterprises to use, but will be available for any pharmaceutical company to use if it wishes.

The Agency is developing a training programme in collaboration with the Drug Information Association (DIA). The Agency will announce these training courses on this website and on the EudraVigilance website.

Phase three: Processing and validation of the submitted information

The Agency will process and validate the information submitted to ensure that it is accurate and up-to-date, with the assistance of a contractor.

If information is incomplete, missing or erroneous, the contractor will liaise with the marketing-authorisation holder on behalf of the Agency, to get hold of the correct information.

Phase four: Update of the format in compliance with the ISO IDMP standards

By the end of 2014, the Agency plans to update the initial format published in July 2011 in line with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Identification of Medicinal Products (IDMP) standards. The IDMP standards are scheduled for finalisation in the first quarter of 2012.

The Agency is making all efforts to make sure that the information on medicines submitted by 1 July 2011 can be migrated in compliance with the future ISO IDMP standards. Most data elements and detailed descriptions of substances in the format published in July 2011 are aligned with the future ISO IDMP standards.

Therefore, marketing-authorisation holders should not need to resubmit data previously provided. However, the Agency will ask them to provide updates based on additional ISO data elements not included in the July 2011 format.

Working with the pharmaceutical industry

The Agency aims to work closely with pharmaceutical industry during the implementation of these measures, including hosting workshops to allow discussion of practical questions on the implementation of the submission process.

The Agency is also planning information days during 2011 and 2012 to raise awareness about the future ISO IDMP standards and to address marketing-authorisation holders’ questions:

Details of upcoming information days are also available on the EudraVigilance website.