Fact No.1: The world is getting smaller by the minute.
Reaching international markets has never been easier, and the only remaining barriers are linguistic. By default, translation agencies are adept at dealing with these, so why would they not realize that they are missing out on significant opportunities by taking more traditional marketing routes, some of which are seriously outdated?
Fact No.2: The Pope tweets in nine different languages.
Even now, there's a certain stigma attached to online media, and it needs to be left behind. Recognizing that social is more than just a fad popular among teenagers, but rather a part of every professional approach to running a successful business (to the extent that it's become a requirement) is easy for some, but suggests a lengthy and troublesome process for others.
Fact No.3: We don't have a choice about whether we engage with social media; the only question is how well we do it.
Translation agencies can use online, and specifically, social media channels to get found by potential clients and market their services – but they also must recognize that social is not a client-making machine which works with a click of one “like”. More often than not, establishing a significant social presence is an arduous process. We might question its overall value at times, but it's more useful to focus on the potential benefits.
Fact No.4: Social media creates communities, not markets.
The main advantage of online (social) media for translation agencies lies in the fact that it represents a direct means of accessing clients (be they direct clients or other agencies) and the most easily measurable tool for building a company’s reputation, authority and exposure. Other benefits include improved visibility, and opportunities to expand into new markets, to leverage the power of word-of-mouth, and to stay on top of trends and events in the industry – to name just a few. On the other hand, embarking on it also implies that you need to learn a new language: the language of social media, i.e. the language of your target audience, and learn to effectively communicate in it.
Fact No.5: There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
What the online route offers is a wide variety of chances, but how can you know whether you're on the right track? Perhaps the answer is to look into the benefits of each channel and decide which marketing mix makes the most sense for your needs. Let’s browse through a few of the most obvious:
First and foremost, there's no point reading any further if you don’t have a functional, SEO-optimized and responsive website – or if any of these adjectives sound confusing. Another: is your website multilingual and completely error-free? As a language expert, you don’t want to embarrass yourself with mistakes in grammar or spelling, in any language!
Can you establish your authority on relevant subjects in a limited number of optimized (key)words and address your thoughts to a target audience? Then why aren’t you doing it already?
- Google AdWords + Analytics
In addition to advertising (which needs no introduction) this is a very useful tool for learning about your own and your competitors’ strategies, as well as keywords and statistics related to visitors and customers.
- Google My Business listing
We know that Google rules search, and you need to carve your own “existence” there as soon as possible, especially considering the fact that you're given free space and a chance to appear in the search results of potential customers near you. This comes complete with essential links, contact information, photos, reviews, 360°-views, and whole website experience, all in one 'prime real estate' location!
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin
Needing no introduction, these social networks provide amazing opportunities for establishing your online presence, but each in a different way, so that strategies for these should not be thought of as interchangeable (more visually-focused? Instagram; more succinct and informal? Twitter; more varied in content and tone? Facebook; more businesslike and formal? Linkedin).
For each of these social networks, it's essential to define your target audience beforehand, and then to start communicating (not simply talking 'at' the audience and throwing random, heavy-handed marketing fluff at your channels and profiles in the name of 'advertising'). This is the age of instant, short-fired, multi-sided communication, and no brands are forgiven nowadays for keeping their story one-sided and high-handed. So, forget about 'commercials' and start conversing for real, showing interest and consideration.
- Relevant forums, discussion boards and groups
From ProZ to various other industry-related professional networks which are more local – these are not just platforms for reaching potential translators, but also the way to be recognized and discovered by high-quality clients. Try to keep your profile(s) updated, localized into all or most of your working languages, and error-free! Also, stay active and get noticed!
Fact No.6: 56% of all statistical data presented online just shows random percentages!
As the world increasingly moves away from the 'real' and into the 'virtual', translation companies, like all other businesses, cannot afford to miss the boat (or is it a spaceship now?) and not be where the majority of their customers, not to mention competitors, already are.