When actress Olivia Wilde was in Switzerland on Aug. 6 to promote her new movie, "Cowboys and Aliens," one of her tweets about the event reportedly caused a small stir. “Cowboys screening for 8,000 in the Piazza Grande a the Locarno Fest tonight,” she wrote on Twitter. “Prepping my speech in Swiss, Italian and Apache just in case.”
Many of her followers quickly informed her there is no “Swiss” language, but citizens speak German, Italian, French and Romansh in Switzerland. Wilde followed up only six minutes later by commenting, “Oh good, turns out there's no Swiss language. That makes things simpler. I’ll throw in Cantonese just to keep things interesting.”
Many of the reporters who covered the alleged “gotcha” moment felt this was a very embarrassing gaffe for Wilde, and they puzzled over how someone so well educated could commit such an awful blunder. Since I cannot perfectly detect tone of voice in Wilde’s tweets, and I do not have the star on speed dial, I cannot speak for her; however, I suspect she did know better and was just joking. How serious could anyone really be about brushing up on three or four languages, including Apache, before the screening of a movie about aliens in the old West?
Twitter’s global influence is evident beyond just international blunders and sarcasm lost in translation. Many international business experts share helpful tips and links. Due to Twitter’s usefulness in linking to good content, many of the most liked tweeters in business are those who happen to author or compile a lot of good content. In no particular order, here are five international business gurus I find worthy of following.
John Yunker is an expert on Web globalization, so his tweets naturally reflect that. Some of his most common topics include global gateway design, internationalized domain names and general cultural issues. He is the author of the Global by Design blog and The Web Globalization Report Card, an annual analysis of 250 global websites.
The globalEDGE Web portal maintained by the International Business Center at Michigan State University creates and identifies a great wealth of international business resources. These include everything from country-specific insights to culture guides. The globalEDGE Twitter feed keeps followers abreast of the organization’s latest compilations and creations.
Renato Beninatto is always entertaining and often controversial. His Twitter bio describes him succinctly as “agent provocateur and connector,” which is very consistent with the impression he makes in person. This well-connected leader is truly a global executive, recently writing a book on Selling in America, while living in Europe as a native Brazilian.
Nathalie Molina NiÑo (aka Global Misfit) shares tweets on a wide range of business topics, including global search engine optimization and marketing to Latinos. However, as her good-humored Twitter handle suggests, her tweets are often very personal, social and fun, too.
Nataly Kelly is chief research officer at the think tank Common Sense Advisory and blogger for the Huffington Post. Her posts regularly link to well-researched articles about language services.
From attorneys like Doug Jacobson (@TradeLawNews) to publishers like Forrester Research (@Forrester) and compliance experts like Peter Merguerian (@MarketAccess), there are many different types of Twitter feeds to follow for the latest on international business. A list focused on international exports would include many government Twitter feeds, such as the International Trade Administration (@TradeGov) and the U.S. Commercial Service (@ExportGov).
However, these top five Twitter feeds certainly reflect my own biases and interests. A longer list that enumerates more of my favorites who focus more on language services would include the following: Ben Sargent (@B2Sargent), Kirti Vashee (@KVashee), Jost Zetzsche (@Jeromobot), MultiLingual Magazine (@MultilingualMag), Donna Parrish (@DonnaParrish), Uwe Muegge (@UweMuegge), Oscar Curros (@OscarCurros), Catherine Christaki (@LinguaGreca) and Judy Jenner (@Language_News), among others.
Whom do you recommend your international business colleagues follow? Share your favorites in the comments section.