How NOT to build your translator brand on Twitter

online-branding

I should start by saying that I’m not keen on the whole concept of “person as brand”. (And one of the many benefits of not being brand-conscious is that you’re less likely to commit any of the crimes listed below.) However, the reality is that many translators are on Twitter to consciously build their brand, and there’s certainly an argument that, simply by connecting with colleagues and with existing or potential clients, your “brand” is at stake even if you deny its very existence.

Having got that caveat out of the way, here are some of my least favourite ways in which some over-enthusiastic advocates of personal branding are using Twitter (and helping to ruin it for the rest of us!).

#spammarketing

I’m surprised at the number of translators who think it’s acceptable (let alone desirable) to post a generic advert for their services on a daily basis. This:

  • will annoy your followers
  • will give the impression that you are desperate for business
  • will negate any impact that a well-designed advert might have.

#marketing_waffle_masquerading_as_professionalism

There seems to be a category of translator who has decided that the best way to project a professional image is to flood their Twitter feed with articles about marketing and business techniques. If you genuinely have insights to share, then please do so. (There are plenty of translator-entrepreneurs out there who have a lot to teach their colleagues.) However, if all you are doing is rehashing yet another tired list of “marketing tips”, “advice on obtaining direct clients”, “looking after your customer”, then please don’t. You will fool nobody.

#explaining_translation_to_the_masses

Another common Tweet runs along the lines, “X% of the world’s population don’t read English. Why you should translate your website.” Who is this aimed at? Most of the followers of any translation-focused account fall into one of two camps: members of the translation industry (translators, LSPs, clients etc.); others (friends, family, social connections, old schoolfriends etc.). The members of the first camp have already got this message. The members of the second camp are not interested in it. Repeating the message ad nauseum will just annoy both groups (and make you look like an idiot along the way).

#interesting_useful_funny

So what should people post? A good starting point is to restrict yourself to content that ticks at least one of the following boxes:

  • interesting
  • useful
  • funny.

In other words, instead of “building your brand”, just behave like the kind of human being that others might want to interact with. After all, we spend a lot of time saying that human beings are better than computers when it comes to translation. And we’re better than brands, too.