By Ismael Pardo, translator and communication specialist

Everybody knows that we live in the age of communication. We not only spend our time consuming information, like we did half a decade ago (to pick one point in history), to some extent we now also produce content. One example of this is Twitter, the social network where over 250,000 tweets are produced every minute, or there are the 4,000,000 emails that are exchanged across the world.

Obviously it hasn’t always been like this: between 1993 and 2004, websites were not based on this collaborative model but on a primary format, where the design was static, the content wasn’t updated and their overriding characteristic was that information was one-way, i.e. websites were for reading only, because the users had no way of interacting with the site.

The continuous interaction that we now see on a daily basis is essentially due to the design of the websites that we currently use: the web 2.0 or social web model. This not only allows users to consume information, but also to collaborate with one another, to share content and interact together. Users are two «people» in one: one who reads and another who writes. This relationship is what gave rise to social media.

What are social media?

As I remarked above and professors Kaplan and Haenlein stated in their book Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media, social media are “a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content”. These social media include social networks, bookmarks, blogs, forums and wikis, among other things.

How do social media help us as translators?

We, as translators and language professionals, are the very definition of the perfect web 2.0 user, for the simple fact that we spend huge amounts of time browsing the internet, not only during the documentation stage of our work (where we can write me an essay use Twitter hashtags, blog categories or specialist forums), but also because we need to have a social presence on professional websites, company blogs, forums related to our profession and social networks.

We don’t only use these websites to offer our services, as we will discuss later, but also to exchange information (such as glossaries, articles and links to specialist dictionaries).

How do social media help us as a business?

How we use social media is important from a business perspective, because there are lots of benefits to using social media with our business in mind.

1. We provide a communication channel which our clients can use to make suggestions, discuss non-private matters with us (otherwise, there are other forms of communication such as emails) or to convey information about our brand and what we do.

2. We offer a «shop window» to provide direct and objective information about what is happening in our company to our followers, whether they are clients (present or future), professional colleagues or companies associated with our sector.

3. We improve the visibility and perception of our brand and our product, because this medium is perfect for providing information about our service and making us stand out from the rest of the companies in the sector. It’s also a perfect excuse for promoting the brand through articles in blogs, or even the occasional competition or promotion.

4. We offer internal benefits to companies such as teamwork (by taking turns to manage the social networks, writing articles etc.) or collective creativity when it comes to creating an advertising campaign for the business.

We’ve already seen the huge benefits offered by social media, but many professionals in our sector are yet to take advantage, maybe because they lack experience or they don’t think that it’s work devoting so much time to managing these resources without actually knowing if they will see results as quickly as they’d like.

In the next instalment of this handbook, I will show you how to use certain tools that will help you to manage productivity on social media, so that you can make the most of what your followers and potential clients can show you through the networks.