I dismissed the whole Twitter thing at the outset. I had been through MySpace, and was already getting tired in Facebook of reading about what everyone had eaten, or was going to eat, for dinner. So when people started talking about Twitter, and tweets, whatever those were, my first reaction was, “Another social network for people to spam each other with information I don’t need? No thanks.”
Then I remember hearing about Twitter in the ProZ.com forums, and people were talking about being able to add a Twitter feed to your ProZ.com profile. One of the most vocal in favor was member Erik Hansson, who has been an excellent example of the use of Twitter by an industry professional. Professional translators were using Twitter? What were they using it for? I decided to go ahead and create an account and poke around and see what was going on.
At first, on a general look around, I saw a lot of the same stuff you will see on any other social network. Ugh, I thought. Let’s see what translators are doing.
This is where it got interesting. I saw people in the translation industry using it (as they use other social networks!) to network, share information, stay informed, promote themselves and others. Work was even getting passed and done through it.
I had felt obligated to add friends and people I knew to my group of friends in Facebook, but I decided to use Twitter in a different way. I would only “follow” those whose tweets I found informative or useful. And I would try, at least try, to only tweet information which I also found informative or useful.
The tweets I follow are now just as useful, if not sometimes more useful, than many news services or my Google Reader when it comes to hearing about some of the latest in translation, or issues facing translators and how they are dealing with them. And there’s an advantage to this format: the character limit means that I get short, concise snippets from different people, and I decide whether to follow the link to the full story or investigate further. A time-saver. People at industry events tweet throughout those events, so that even if I am not there, I get a taste of what is going on, what is being discussed, what is striking a chord with attendees (and the fun they’re having that I’m missing out on!). In a collaborative effort, everyone contributes what they have, what they know, what they have read or seen, to the mix. By selecting with care those you follow, you create a powerful way of staying informed and in communication with colleagues, with a minimum of time invested. By sharing with care what you find useful and informative with others in the industry or by passing the word on by “re-tweeting”, you are helping do the same for others.
I’d like to mention here a few Twitter users who I have found particularly informative. This is by no means an exhaustive list:
and @ProZcom of course!
Check them out, and if you have not already, try forming a list of people you follow which you find useful and productive. Then try your hand at returning the favor to those who might follow you.
I’m focusing here on the informative-collaborative aspect of using Twitter, and the benefits I have found. I’m sure there are pros (pro translators and pro tweeters) who can expand more on other beneficial aspects for their businesses of using this medium.