What Should I Tweet About?

We have a confession to make: well, it's not really much of a confession, but we think Twitter is great. It's revolutionized communication in many ways, and it's a powerful and free tool for self-promotion. We know that there are many Twitter haters out there, but there are fewer now than were a few years ago. Oftentimes we get asked what self-employed linguists should tweet about. While there are no solid rules that work for all, Judy has amassed many followers (8.5 K, specifically) by doing a few things that worked for her. Have a look at some of these:

1) Follow the 80/20 rule. That means you should promote yourself 20% of the time while focusing on other things 80% of the time. Reason being: it's hard to get followers if you only tweet things like, "Hire me!". That's just not interesting, and there's a reason that airlines don't just tweet about their newest and best flights. They tweet about other interesting things as well to grow a following, and so should you.
2) Be helpful. Not everything you do on Twitter has to be related to your business. In fact, most of it won't (see above). If someone asks for a restaurant recommendation in your city, chime in. It's never a bad idea to be a nice and helpful person, online and offline. We oftentimes retweet (=share) things that others ask us to share.
3) Post interesting things. Just posting stuff about yourself is the Twitter equivalent of only talking about yourself on a first date, so don't do that. Share things about organizations and people you like. Most people are aware that retweets aren't necessarily endorsements, but we still recommend reading everything before retweeting it to make sure it isn't offensive.
4) Politically correct? Speaking of offensive: it's almost impossible to never, ever, offend anyone, unless you want to be so politically correct that you are a bit bland and boring. Some linguists prefer to only tweet about business-related topics (which can be controversial enough), while we like to mix personal and private, and yes, sometimes, we use Twitter to briefly complain about bad service from say, our cable provider. We have learned to not censor ourselves too terribly much, but we also don't tweet about overly private things. 
5) Have fun. Twitter is the online equivalent of the watercooler, and it's supposed to be fun. Of course, as with the real water cooler, there are people online you'd rather not interact with, and you don't have to. If someone is harassing you, block them. If you don't want to respond, just don't. There will always be people you can't get along with --online and off---and you have to pick your battles. Surround yourself with good, positive people, just like you would in real life.
6) Learn. We can't even tell you how much we have learned from being on Twitter--we follow prominent journalists, writers, activists, politicians, and of course, fellow linguists. It's been an amazing tool, and it's also great for continuing to read in all our languages. 


Skrivanek Group on September 26, 2015 at 9:32 PM said...

Hello ladies. Hope all is well. Twitter is a great opportunity for anyone. I love the 80/20 rule. It makes sense. Your feed can't look robotic. You need that human approach, human element. It's also a great way to connect with others. I love making new friends in my industry, your industry, translation of course. I find myself reading blogs. So many give to our community and it's only right we support one another.

EP on October 4, 2015 at 11:03 AM said...

I like your 80/20 rule - an above all the part about having fun. Keep having fun yourself!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on October 7, 2015 at 4:59 PM said...

@Skrivanek Group: Thanks for your note and nice to hear from you! We could not agree more: supporting each other really is key. Here's to our online community.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on October 7, 2015 at 5:00 PM said...

@EP: Thanks for reading and for commenting. And yes, Twitter sure is a lot of fun above anything else!

Sarah said...

Thank you for this post. It really helped me getting started with Twitter. I'll definitely keep all your tips in mind.

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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