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These days, being active on social media is non-negotiable.
However, simply being active is no longer enough. To actually make an impression on current and prospective clients, you need to dedicate time to building and maintaining a social strategy. You need to respond to comments in real-time. You need to interact with the social media presence of others in your industry.
But how does anyone have the time to do this while also running their own agency?
The answer lies with a Virtual Social Media Assistant.
In this post you’ll find everything you need to know to bring a virtual social media assistant on board your team and set up a fail-proof process for social media success.
What is a virtual social media assistant?
When you’re an agency owner, your workload is unbelievable. Answering emails, networking, reaching out to prospective clients, reaching out to current clients, fulfilling orders, catching up on current trends and learning new skills - never mind adding social media management on top of what you’re already dealing with. How can one person handle it all?
Fortunately, one person doesn’t have to. A virtual assistant (VA) is a cape-less superhero whose sole purpose is to give you your life back.
In any job or agency, there are largely two types of tasks: the procedural, black-and-white, more objective tasks (e.g., logging data, uploading files, managing a calendar, straightforward information-request emails, etc.), and then there are those that are a little more subjective and require a personal touch.
Some of these more procedural tasks can be automated. But some are better handled by real humans. Virtual assistants are ideal for taking the tasks off your plate that really don’t require your unique attention and touch to be accomplished, while letting you focus on the ones that you do want to prioritize yourself (like networking and/or sales, for example).
Virtual assistants do not work on-site. They may, however, work as near as the same city, or as far as the opposite side of the world. They generally work solely for you, and, depending on your definition, may be considered a full-time payroll employee. However, VAs generally cost much less than regular employees as they do not generally receive benefits, won’t require you to pay for office space or equipment, and are generally paid less than full-time employees.
Based on these differences, some agency owners and entrepreneurs quite rightly question the ethics of some companies and fellow entrepreneurs in their VA hiring practices. This is obviously something you’ll have to work out for yourself, but know that there are certainly more and less ethical ways of going about it. Consider where you’re hiring from, what you’re reasonably able to provide your VA in terms of a wage, and if possible, try to include some simple benefits in your contract (e.g. sick days, vacation time, etc.).
If you’re curious as to the difference between outsourcing and hiring a VA, I answer this question in the linked section of my post, The Best Virtual Assistants to Hire.
How do I hire a virtual social media assistant?
Dennis Yu is a major proponent of hiring virtual assistants, and as such, he’s developed a comprehensive guide to hiring them. Read an overview of his strategy on our post, How to Find and Hire a Virtual Assistant.
However, one important note that I will include here is that Dennis Yu’s number one rule for hiring VAs is not to hire one person to cover all “extra” tasks in all areas. In other words, don’t hire one person to handle your email campaigns, your administrative tasks, your sales, and your social media accounts. Hire one person to cover and master each separate area. If you don’t have the budget to hire six people at once, hire one, and as your pipeline and revenue grow, hire more.
What tasks can a virtual social media assistant tackle?
There’s so much that a virtual social media assistant can take off your plate. These tasks fall broadly under three categories:
1. Establishing your social media presence
We’re all at a different place in terms of the maturity of our social media presence. If you haven’t even started with yours, it’s okay. It’s something to tackle as soon as possible, but that’s why you get a virtual assistant.
A VA can set you up on Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, Twitter, YouTube, and/or any other platform that may be relevant to your vertical. They can help you decide whether or not a specific platform is worth investing time in, set up your account, and even develop some simple but consistent branding to spread across all platforms.
Notably, this will mean your VA will have username and password access to all your social accounts, so make sure you are okay with this. There are some tools you can use to get around this if you’re not comfortable with this set up. Simply see our tools section below for more on this.
2. Maintaining your social media presence
Maintaining a social media presence involves constant attention and upkeep. There are four main areas to tackle:
- Researching, developing, and posting social content: This can involve posting status updates, videos that you take at conferences or throughout your day, pulling and posting quotes from things you’ve written/recorded, and sharing links to articles and/or other interesting content that will provide current and prospective clients with value.
- Engaging your audience: This is similar to the point above, but taken to the next level. Here your VA will work on coming up with creative ideas that will engage your audience in a deeper manner. This can involve posting Q&As, polls, and networking with colleagues and/or prospective and current clients.
- Commenting and responding to comments: one of the most important parts of managing a social media presence is actually interacting with your audience - especially when they make the first move. It’s extremely important to be on top of what’s being said about you online, and to comment constructively. This involves addressing both positive and negative reviews, as well as random Twitter and Facebook comments or whatever else may come up. This can also involve tracking brand mentions across the entire internet, something that’s generally done best with a tool such as Mention.com.
- Maintaining correct information on all your social profiles and posting announcements: This one is fairly self-explanatory, but is one that many businesses miss in their social strategy, and something that can actually really hurt your business. Things like not posting accurate opening hours on holiday weekends, or not sufficiently getting the word out on a big promotion you’re having, can really affect your customers or make you lose out on big selling opportunities. If you’re not 100% confident that you’re able to keep up on this stuff on your own, you need to make sure you have someone on your team who can.
3. Collecting and reporting on data
The third main task your virtual social media assistant can do is collect and report on data specifically. This may not be all possible data (e.g., sales data), but will rather be all data related to your social presence. This will include (but is not limited to): what posts are receiving the most engagement, what form of engagement different posts are receiving (e.g., likes, comments, click-throughs, etc.), any trends that are performing well, and notable customer feedback.
The purpose of collecting data is to make best-performing decisions for the future. Therefore, at least once a week, have a reporting session where you can find out everything that the numbers are indicating, as well as any customer feedback that may inform how you go ahead as a company.
What tools should I provide for my virtual social media assistant?
Even though you may finally have someone on board to take care of these tasks and may not give them another thought, it’s still in your best interest to invest in tools that empower your VA to do their work as efficiently as possible.
Vendasta’s social marketing tool enables your VA to post to all your social platforms from one dashboard. This means that your VA doesn’t need password access to all your accounts, but, rather, can just have their own username and password to Vendasta. It also gathers data and analytics that allow your VA to quickly get an accurate picture of what your audience is responding to, and enables you both to make better decisions for your agency’s future.
Vendasta’s platform also has a Reputation Management tool that notifies you every single time a comment is made on one of your platforms and keeps track of the ones you’ve already responded to, as well as the ones that are still on your to-do list. Finally, it’s an excellent place for you to check in on all the work your VA is doing, all in one place. Vendasta’s platform is the perfect tool for ensuring both you and your VA are successful both in your roles and in your partnership.
How should I communicate with my virtual social media assistant?
Anytime you have someone working remotely, communication becomes even more important than usual.
Differing time zones may make scheduling more of a challenge, but try to set up quick daily check-ins where you hear everything your VA is going to work on for the day, and give them time to ask any questions and yourself time to give any input or comments you may have on their previous or upcoming work.
Once a week, have a longer meeting where you review how things are going, look over the entire week’s body of work, discuss upcoming projects, and go through the data report.
Be sure you have a method of quick and easy communication established between you. This may mean using a chat feature on Google or Facebook or Slack, or something else entirely. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re able to communicate smoothly and with assurance that they’ll definitely see your messages in a reasonably timely manner (taking any time change into account) and that they’ll be responsive.
Establishing and maturing your social media presence may be just the step you need to see agency grow. And with the tips and advice above, you can feel confident that both your new VA and a killer social media presence are well within reach.