Archive for December 28, 2009

Localization commoditization: If it seems too good to be true…

Localization is a critical piece of the communication puzzle for any organization that counts limited English proficient (LEP) speakers among its audience. As a result, localization has become ever more commoditized, prompting the industry to ask if this is not a mistake.

Given a rather low barrier to entry, the translation and localization market has grown, which continues to drive down prices. But the reality is that not all of the new language service providers (LSPs) bring the requisite expertise. So, while those in need of such services are enjoying ever cheaper rates, choosing those providers can be a real gamble. Just consider the math for a moment:

Using 2,000 words per day as a baseline, a bilingual, college-educated person with some translation experience should make about $45,000 a year. Assuming standard benefits, 401k, sick time, and vacation pay, that person will average out at about a $0.12 per word. Now add another $0.05 per word for proofreading. This figure rises still further if a company is managing the project and resources.

The truth is that age-old adage still applies: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
So, if you’re getting a steal, just make sure the LSP is providing real value. Otherwise, the stealing might just be going the other direction.

For a closer look at this issue, check out the recent study conducted by the European Union, “Studies on Language and Multilingualism: The Size of the Language Industry in the EU.”

Good health!

Actually, on second thought, do have a cow this holiday season

Tis the season, and while there is a blizzard of holiday cards traveling through the mail at the moment, viaLanguage decided to take a slightly different approach this holiday season: We bought a cow.

It’s true. We’re proud to partner with the health care industry during the year, and we figured there was nothing healthier than giving a needy family the opportunity to start a sustainable small business, which is what the cow provides. Able to provide products like milk, offspring, and fertilizer that the owner can then sell or trade for food, clothing, and other essentials, the cow can actually help transform entire communities.

That is the idea and the mission behind Heifer International, the organization viaLanguage worked with. Theirs is such an exciting, innovative approach it spoke to us immediately. And it didn’t hurt that Alton Brown (love that guy) is a big fan, too. Take a look at his brief video.

So if you’re not sure what to get that loved one that has everything, consider giving livestock in their name to a family that could use it. They’re sure to be moo-ved.

Learn more about Heifer International at

Good health!

Effective social media demands a strong focus on the ‘social.’

The July 2009 report released by the Advisory Board Company’s Marketing Planning and Leadership Council demonstrated how much work hospitals and health care systems have to do to make the best of use of social media.

As highlighted in the last couple of posts, the study revealed that only about 10 percent are using the increasingly valuable communication tools and even fewer are exploiting its true power to build meaningful, two-way communications.

Here are few things to consider as you address your social media efforts:

•Focus on your community — By spotlighting local events and issues, a hospital can position itself as an important member of the community. This approach also creates broader appeal, promoting a larger social network.
•Communicate in first person — The public expects real people and real conversation on social networks. It’s all about dialogue, which is not a likely result if your “voice” online reads like a press release.
•Build a corporate network — Pursue connections with other corporate entities and individuals in your area. To be effective, your strategy here must be a proactive one in which you seek out engagement. These associations can be a powerful way to do that.

Initial steps for any program include identifying the right platforms, setting realistic goals, and assigning accountability. These are important. Once established, you’re ready to get the conversation started.

Good health!

The interaction is the real opportunity made possible by social media

As we noted last week, only about 10 percent of hospitals and health care systems are leveraging social media tools in their communications efforts. And unfortunately even these users are largely ignoring the greatest opportunity offered by technology like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs: two-way interaction with targeted audiences.
In July 2009, the Advisory Board Company’s Marketing and Planning Leadership Council conducted a study of 25 hospital Twitter accounts over a two-week period to determine how the microblogging tool was being used in the industry. Chosen randomly, subjects included the following:
• Children’s hospitals
• Corporate health systems
• Hospitals within a health system
• Independent hospitals
• Specialty hospitals
To further understand habits, each Tweet was placed into one of 12 categories. The most popular included:
• Health education/information (31 percent)
• Retweets (16 percent)
• Event promotion (13 percent)
A mere 6 percent of posts were categorized as “interactions,” meaning they were responses to earlier posts or “extending gratitude to particular individuals.” One institution did, however, buck the trend with 20 percent of their Tweets being classified as interactions. How did their strategy differ from the others? We’ll address that in the next post.

Good health!