The Linguist

The Linguist 51,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 11 of 35

INTERNET FOR BUSINESS COMIC RELIEF: A post by one member Making friends Ian Andersen explains how the European Commission uses social media for marketing and promotions The ���Interpreting for Europe��� Facebook page was created in November 2009, as part of a wider strategy to attract new recruits to the European Commission���s Directorate-General Interpretation, and to interpreter training more generally. The choice of Facebook as a forum for dialogue with young people was straightforward. We needed to engage with young language-learners with an international outlook in the space they inhabit. After a gentle start, our Facebook page grew to 25,000 participants by 2011. We now find that helping our Facebook ���friends��� is the best way to increase awareness of the profession. The page aims to be the (potential) interpreting student���s best friend, and most reliable source of factual information. Maintenance of the website is spread between several people at the DG Interpretation, including trainees. The workload amounts to less than one full-time post, with further contributions from the interpreting services of the European Parliament and Court of Justice. In designing posts, we keep a number of ideas in mind: ��� All posts should create value for our Facebook ���friends��� by providing them with useful information or links, events, interesting 12 The Linguist discussion points, application deadlines, work opportunities ��� and even comic relief. ��� All posts are connected to interpretation or languages and can provide links to courses or events at interpreter schools/universities. ��� Useful contributions by the European Commission to language studies or the language professions are highlighted. ��� Light-hearted posts are designed to build audience figures, to increase the likelihood of people looking at more serious messages. Other posts engage ���friends��� in discussion. ��� All questions are answered truthfully and comprehensively as soon as possible, normally within 24 hours. There are obvious pitfalls to avoid, such as publishing propaganda pieces, sounding bureaucratic and inundating members with posts. The book on social media is still being written. What is true for one group is not necessarily true for another. So your best bet is to experiment, be factual but don���t be afraid of being controversial, and keep an eye on the statistics of your page. DG Interpretation language campaigns are launched with a press event and followed up with media interviews, speaking tours of schools and universities, direct mail campaigns, DECEMBER/JANUARY and advertising campaigns on Facebook. The page benefits from the buzz created at events or in the press, and it is an effective tool for spreading messages quickly. Generally speaking, a post on Facebook is likely to be seen by about 15 percent of the members of a page. Most Interpreting for Europe posts are seen by 20-30 percent of its members, so we are doing relatively well. Still, it is not possible to be certain which posts will connect to a large proportion of our fans. These are some of the lessons we���ve learned: ��� Keep a record of all published posts to avoid repetition, and keep track of all questions asked on the wall and via email. This analysis shows what information our audience is lacking, which can be used for future posts. ��� Keep up to date. Do not use old sources. If you miss a ���hot��� topic it is better to avoid it. ��� Although we generally post in English, we try to answer all queries and comments in the language in which they are posted. ��� Every post and reply should be checked by a native speaker of the language of the post. Grammar and spelling mistakes are not acceptable in pages about languages. ��� Communicating with ���friends��� by participating in discussions, answering questions and commenting is a big part of our approach. Thanks to specific campaigns and (limited) targeted advertising on Facebook, Interpreting for Europe now has 4,000 UK friends. That is 16 percent of the total EU-based pages ��� and proportionally far more than any other. Facebook statistics are thorough and immediate once a certain number of people have ���liked��� your page. But it is easy to get carried away with virality (the percentage of people sharing a post or commenting to their friends) or reach (number of unique people who have seen a post). In the end, the only worthwhile statistic is the number of applicants to and graduates from interpreting courses. The results are persuasive. The number of applicants to conference interpreting courses in the UK has increased substantially since 2008. I am convinced that all language and interpreting courses can benefit from establishing a social media presence and working together with other sites, blogs and forums, in particular in the UK, where there is plenty of work to do in raising awareness of the benefits and job possibilities created by foreign language training.

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