Twitter Love

by Translation Guy on July 7, 2011

A confession: I tweet, but I don’t get it. I love to write them, since they are 140 characters and my dream is to someday write headlines for the New York Post. (I figure they are going to have a slot available now that they are getting sued by the discredited Strauss-Kahn accuser/cleaning woman over “DSK ‘Refused to Pay’ Hooker Maid for Sex.”) On the other hand, I find I don’t have the attention span to read them (tweets I mean, I do fine with the Post). So I was pretty pleased to win the Language Lovers 2011 contest for best tweeter in language and translation, and I even got interviewed. Quite a thrill. So to show my gratitude, I’m posting the interview on my blog, as a way to express my gratitude for the recognition. Please follow @TransationGuy if Twitter is your chosen channel for wasting time online. Interview follows:

Why did you start tweeting?

I was spending a lot of time writing my blog Translation Guy and no one was reading it. So we decided to promote it on Twitter. Now the blog is being read by a much wider audience.

How does your Twitter account influence your business activity?

The research I do for my tweeting has been useful in getting a better handle on the industry and the nature of language and translation. Our Twitter campaign is designed to promote the blog, which in turn is designed to promote traffic to Twitter has been very helpful in that regard.

What is the most memorable Tweet you read on Twitter?

The CEO at Lionbridge, Rory, once wrote a tweet about packing his suitcase. It was something like, “Now I’m packing my suitcase.” I think that was my first retweet.

How has Twitter impacted on your real life, i.e. by meeting Twitter friends, etc.?

I think I’m using Twitter wrong, at least when it comes to making friends, because I don’t have any. Maybe using more hash marks would help?

I was going to have a party for my followers to celebrate the big win, but my lawyer was afraid that too many would get drunk and fall off the roof. Maybe after we put in the cage.

How did the Top 100 Language Lovers 2011 competition impact on you?

We always get some additional interest in Translation Guy thanks to your promotional efforts, but the cherry on top is the way the Language Lovers competition draws out the enthusiasm of my regular readers on the blog. Even though Translation Guy is a corporate marketing tool designed to promote 1-800-Translate, it is also a labor of love, and written from my heart, so I am deeply grateful for and flattered by all the encouragement I have received from fans in the Language Lovers competitions.

Did you expect to rank so high and actually hit the first spot?

There are 10,000 people who find @TranslationGuy tweets entertaining and useful enough to follow, a much larger following I think than for any of the other nominees. So we hit the top spot for our industry long before you guys came along. That 50% of your selection criteria that is about something other than popularity is unfathomable to us, which makes your selection process a kind of holy mystery to our team. So we operate under the assumption that your judges are the evil high priests of some insane, wrathful deity, and we just do what anyone would do in that situation: shake it with some rain dance, burn some incense in the van, throw a few pigs into the volcano (we have a virgin shortage here at 1-800-Translate) and hope only to be spared from the wrath of your pyroclastic flow. Fortunately, this time our incantations paid off.

According to you, what made the difference between you and the other participants?

I don’t know about the rest of those guys, but I try to write @TranslationGuy like I’m writing headlines for the New York Post. I’ve always considered a great headline and lede to be the highest achievement of the writer’s craft, and 140 characters is sonnet-like in its ability to concentrate the mind of both reader and writer. I don’t often write them on the fly, so I have the opportunity to pay close attention to story selection and make sure the content is useful to my followers and presented in a way that will entertain and inform. Sometimes I even do a spell check. Message: I care.

Who was your favorite competitor?

I like the work of @jeromobot, @TopTrans, and @brad5patterson.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how addicted are you to Twitter?

Is zero between 1 and 10? I just don’t have the time for a Twitter addiction, since I’ve got so many other addictions on my plate right now.

Any special advice for people tweeting about languages?

1. Provide useful information from vetted sources. Retweeting @TranslationGuy is an easy way to thicken your own twitter stream.

2. Do not use the phrase “lost in translation.” It’s been done. Unless you use a hash mark. Then it’s OK.


  1. Thanks for the mention, Ken ! Babla’s competition has introduced me to quite a few new fun twitterers out there, you included. BTW, I too am particularly drawn by writing NYTimesque headliners that tempt folks into clicking. :)

    Cheers, Brad

  2. Lisa Lanier says:

    Congratulations on your win!

  3. You deserved the top Twitter spot for sure. Ken your tweets generally are the best from day to day. FX and TopTrans are basically syndicated from other places…

  4. Thanks for suggesting @jeromobot, just followed him.

  5. I also used to love the Lionbridge twitter feed ad well, great language discussion

    • Ken says:

      Patricia, now I didn’t say I loved it, just that I remembered it.

  6. Appy says:

    Hey Brad, love your work too!

  7. Yummers says:

    LOL, ok ok I wil retweet the Translationguy!

  8. YES, that is why I am in love with your work Ken. You actually care and it shows. For instance, take this award, it is very apparent that you tweet from the heart. Also, this blog, this stuff takes time and it is wonderful to see a CEO communicating with the common folk 😉

  9. Don Lang says:

    What kind of van do you own Ken?

    • Ken says:

      A 1968 Chevy Sportvan Mystery Machine, metaphorically speaking.

  10. Hal says:

    ken, im a New Yorker and would love to come to your Twitter party. You SO need to do this.

  11. Tab A says:

    Also, @Lingo_Woman is also a very cool Twitter feed. Make sure to check it out!

  12. Benno says:

    I was just browsing through your posts and noticed all of the awards that you have won over the past few years. That is amazing. You have won the most I think. I am curious though, I am a fan on your Facebook page and noticed that you weren’t even entered into the fan page category for this year’s award. Did you have a reason for not entering or did the team wish to give someone else a chance to win something?

  13. Charlie says:

    A confession: we all tweet, but but none of us get it 😉

    • Ken says:

      Thanks, Charlie. I’m just glad to know I’m not alone

  14. Evil high priests indeed!

  15. Susannah says:

    You’re the man TranslationGuy.

  16. Gracie says:

    What are your addictions? You state that Twitter isn’t one of them, which I am reluctant to accept, but nonetheless, entertain me with your confessions.

    • Ken says:

      Thank your for your interest in the addictions of our CEO, Ken Clark aka Translation Guy. Ken’s addictions include helping old ladies across the street, picking up money off sidewalks to feed homeless soccer stars, and feeding stray cats. Please note that all charges of substance abuse issues involving boxes of white wine, inappropriate sexual behaviors, and rolling Salvation Army Santas have all been dismissed.

      Sincerely, 1-800-Translate PR team

  17. Okay, in my opinion your Twitter account is strong and deserved to win. BUT I don’t get your Facebook fan page, it should have won hadns down, it didn’t even make the cut?

    • Ken says:

      Left us scratching our heads too, Phyllis. They also gave away my Twitter prize money to some crazy/creepy charity-scam for homeless Third World soccer players without so much as a by-your-leave. Hey, its their big top, and I’m just the elephant pulling a circus wagon.

  18. Skidmarks says:

    Dude, you’re a legend to us freelance translators. How many resumes do you get per day? I bet a heck of a lot more now.

    • Ken says:

      Lots and lots. We’ll are working on a way to make the site more friendly and useful to freelancers seeking work. I’ll get to it, one of these days….

  19. Cool interview.

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