;   Medical Translation Insight: Social media and the translation business, revisited - ForeignExchange Translations

Eleven months ago, we reported on our early experiences with blogging. At the time, we were brand new to this social media thing and just trying to understand what's what.

We still haven't mastered the subject but over the past year we have learned a good bit. To demonstrate that, it's interesting to take another look at how many visits originated from social networking sites, this time during the period of December 2009 to February 2010.

Overall, the percentage of visits that originated on other site ("referring sites" in Google Analytics parlance) has stayed constant at 33%. But the details have changed substantially the top three social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook). Our traffic that came from these three sites has grown grown by 81%.

Here is the breakdown of visits coming from each site over the past three months:

Visits to Medical Translation Insight from social networking sites
Some of this growth can be attributed to the maturing of social networking in general. And some of it was a direct result of our actions.

For instance, after noting last year that "We didn't use an actual Twitter account. The links that originated from Twitter came from other people posting about our blog", we signed up for our own Twitter account. We now tweet blog entries, audio conference notices, and other news at @fxtrans.

We have also increased our participation in LinkedIn groups; they account for 90+% of the LinkedIn referrals.

Interestingly, we have experimented with other sites but have been disappointed with the results. For instance, Plaxo has generated a grand total of 4 referrals from December to February.

What's next? The answer might be social news.

Even though we haven't "worked it", digg has started to show up regularly in our referral reports. It is still contributing small visitor numbers (52 from December to February) but they are growing quickly. We have also experimented with Stumbleupon, Delicious, and Reddit but the jury is still out on how effective these social news sites are.

I sometimes get asked whether all of this effort is really worth it. The answer is an unqualified "yes". Here is a sampling of the benefits that have accrued to us from having a blog and being active social networkers:

  • overtures regarding acquisitions
  • revenue increases (both translation services and audio conference attendance)
  • dozens of article ideas for use on our blog and in our newsletters
  • improved information flow to partners, suppliers, and, yes, even ForeignExchange team members
  • reinforcement of ForeignExchange leadership position in medical translation
The good news is that anybody can do this, with similarly positive results. There is no "secret sauce".

It's no more complicated than "growth begets more growth": Provide valuable content and proactively look to grow your reader base. As long as you continue to publish worthwhile content, those readers will help you find more readers (links from other blogs, retweets, participation in forums and online discussions). For instance, over the first two months of 2010, our blog readers have increased by 15% and our Twitter followers by 30%, with minimal efforts on our part.

If you want to get started with social media or want to improve what you're doing, there are lots of good books, blogs, and web sites out there. As a starting point, though, take a look at Louis Gray's collection of 40 Key Elements to Getting Started In Social Media.

Happy networking!

Blogging isn't all we do! ForeignExchange Translations provides specialized medical translation and software localization services to pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Contact us to learn more.


  1. Nathalie Klein said...
    LinkedIn groups account for 90+% of the 1717 LinkedIn visits in the past 3 months on this blog below. For the same period Facebook brought 156 visits and Twitter 310. Guess what, I am going to my groups on LinkedIn as we speak, http://il.linkedin.com/in/nathalieklein

    (via Facebook)
    Translation Paris said...

    You're missing 2 major European networks....ask me more!
    ForeignExchange Translations said...
    @Translation Paris (or anybody else with knowledge of the issue): OK, spill it - which European networks should we participate in?
    andytrans said...
    I think you're doing a great job with the blogging Andre. I'm a fan of LinkedIn too, but Twitter is also far more useful in terms of viral blogging than most people realize. Keep it up
    Andy (http://watercoolernetwork.com)

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