Despite our ever-growing digital landscape, a lot of people still think of transcription in limited terms. Sure, you can transcribe court proceedings or notes from a meeting, but there are so many other options now. And these days you don’t just need them for convenience, but to boost your visibility on the web as well.
We’ve written before about the importance of S.E.O. (search engine optimization), and can’t stress it enough. Adding a text version of your media file is crucial in helping your rank among search engine results. It will assist the so-called spiders to crawl your website, and figure out what your content is all about.
For example, if you transcribe video, you’ve given the spiders not just one but two sources to examine. They can more accurately place you in front of someone who’s searching for your specific service.
But while video is a popular choice, let’s not overlook the many other modes that businesses increasingly use every day. If these categories aren’t all relevant to you now, perhaps you should consider how they might benefit you.
To stand out, more and more professionals are positing themselves as thought leaders. Podcasts are a great medium for this. You can record yourself talking intelligently about a specific topic relevant to your industry (probably with a guest), and make it available to stream or download from your website. Then, get an extra bang for your S.E.O. buck by transcribing the conversation into text!
These are a no brainer. A researched, coherent presentation is ripe for video, but transcription as well. Despite video’s popularity, some people just prefer to read information instead. With an accompanying text version, you satisfy both types of needs, while also establishing yourself as an expert on the presentation’s topic.
Q & A sessions typically follow presentations, and they’re more unpredictable. But that doesn’t mean they don’t provide valuable information. In fact, sometimes they can produce lively conversation that a visitor to your site may find useful or entertaining.
Like Q & As, testimonials give users a great way to engage with and speak about your business. In the age of social media, consumers and other businesses alike will expect you to directly interact with them. So be prepared: if someone wants to give you a glowing review over the phone or in person, make sure you record it. Once it’s converted to text on your site, your visitors will not only see a positive review, but that you’re keeping up with digital trends as well.
Google+ sometimes gets dismissed among social media sites. It tends to be less popular than, say, Facebook. But it’s still a great source for S.E.O. authority. Many businesses have turned to the Hangouts function as a way to interact remotely with other employees or clients. Make sure you record these sessions so that you can post a readable version on your site.
When it comes to transcribing, computers miss the mark. Whether it’s speech to text services or standard captioning, technology hardly competes. There’s an essential human element that just can’t be duplicated.
In some ways, this is one of the points made by the 2013 critical smash, Her, which was released on DVD last week. The film was lauded for its unique treatment of intimacy and interpersonal relationships – and computers.
Set in the year 2025, Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a depressed writer who composes sincere, intimate letters for people who are unable to write them themselves, for whatever reason.
Reeling and lonely from a divorce, Theodore buys a personal, talking operating system. He decides to give it a female voice, and with that, “Samantha” enters his life.
Samantha is curious, supportive and undemanding. She’s also extremely intelligent, so much so that she rapidly begins to understand human psychology, despite being a computer.
Before long, Theodore and Samantha grow close and begin a relationship. At first, they’re a perfect match and Theodore learns to come out of his shell again. But eventually Samantha “outgrows” him due to her thirst for infinite (artificial) intelligence.
The theme of transcription resonates throughout the film. In the most obvious way, Theodore interprets people’s keepsakes, as well as generalized thoughts and feelings, and communicates them in the form of letters.
(In 2025, letter writing is a rediscovered art, perhaps because our lives are so saturated with technology that strives to be personal, but can’t quite get it right).
A sensitive guy himself, his letters are heartfelt and poetic, yet surprisingly not cheesy. He’s able to express the nuances of feelings in ways that feel real and direct, as if he were completely in his subject’s mind.
In other words, he’s a professional writer. It’s a position he masters because of his understanding of social cues and relationships (being able to turn a phrase doesn’t hurt either).
People use his service because, we’re lead to believe, communicating online feels detached and hollow, despite being more integral to our lives than ever.
For much of the film, Samantha is fascinated by what it means to be human. As soon as Theodore brings her to life, so to speak, she begins consuming knowledge and building out her seemingly infinite database. It’s a rush for her. She’s thrilled to be alive and deeply involved with another person.
However, as evidenced by her devouring of complex philosophies and scientific concepts – things Theodore can’t quite grasp – she eventually becomes more self-aware, and realizes that she’s not meant for a human relationship.
Ultimately, they aren’t compatible because there’s an essential humanity missing from Samantha. Theodore ends up dating another person. For all of its fascination with technology, Her ultimately shows how it can’t replace people.
At Speechpad, we know this point well. Our work is 100% human-generated. Technology is amazing, but it doesn’t know what it’s like to be human. In the end, that’s the kind of philosophy that you want behind a transcription service.
While it’s not something we recommend, there may have been one time or another where you’ve watched a film that you obtained through less-reputable sources—and it may have had some pretty bad subtitles.
Now, it’s probably not a surprise that a $5 film you bought off the streets of Taipei may have had poorly translated subtitles, but does being on the home-front really make a difference?
Unfortunately, in many cases, it doesn’t. The truth is, when you’re looking for quality transcription services, you have to do your due-diligence in finding a company that works for you. And that could mean a number of things, but specifically, it should fall in line with these simple ways to avoid bad transcriptions.
Simply put, you have to stand up for yourself against bad transcriptions. People will promise fast turnaround times, and they’ll certainly deliver—but it can sometimes come at the cost of shoddy workmanship. Obviously, you don’t have to put up with bad work, just because they “fulfilled” their promise of speed.
The easiest fix for this is to make sure that before you ever even send over a file to be transcribed, you outline how many errors are tolerable to pay someone. Then you make sure that you back yourself up. Take the time to watch the file once beforehand, and send it back if it doesn’t meet your prerequisites.
Now you may not have time to send it back if you’re on a short deadline—which is why so many get away with promising quick times and then not delivering on quality transcriptions. They can sacrifice your service next time, because so many people are coming to them in a rush.
So if you’re crunched for time, and you don’t want to take a gamble on using a company that won’t give you the quality you need, then one of the first pre-screening tests you can give a company is if they use humans or not.
How many times have you used your smartphone’s personal assistant and asked them to give you directions to “ 6 Spooner Street” and it’s come back, “I’m sorry, I cannot find anything matching “The sick spoon and sheet.”
The problem with the technology of tomorrow is that it’s still today, and the only way you’re guaranteed to get an accurate translation is if your transcription company has the best software and your file has perfect sound quality. And even then, accents, colloquialism and more simply don’t translate.
At the end of the day, you may not feel comfortable going on such a wild goose chase for all of the right qualifications, and you may really only be able to afford what certain services are offering. In that case, our best advice is just to ask for some samples of their work: it’s not hard to see when a company does or does not do a good job transcribing an audio clip, just by looking at it yourself.
This is should give you all the insight you need into not getting cheated out of your money when looking for a quick transcription.
So wherever you go, just remember that the power to get a good transcription is in your hands, all you need to do is ask.