I woke up an hour earlier than usual today, frantically looking around for my cell phone. Then I recalled that there is Akanksha, so I shrouded myself in warm blanket & dozed off. For those wondering who Akanksha is & what she does, here is a brief…
Akanksha, my secretary, who I hired years ago takes care of the calls for me. She handles my appointments, weeds out spam calls, arranges meetings. She is an absolute essential in the smooth operations of the workplace. And the reason I hired her is equally important.
When I started out, I used to do everything on my own. Taking care of clients, handling calls, booking appointments, making reservations in my schedule, making sure that I stick to the schedule (most important I think), remembering my anniversary (which I often forget). Because who can do everything better than myself right!
One of the most fatal mistakes budding entrepreneurs & small-and-medium sized business owners make is to think of themselves as Superman. I think it is of paramount importance to be a little humble & accept certain facts…
Facts such as you can not do EVERYTHING immaculately. Like there are professionals out there who can probably do a task 10 times better than you do. And you will thank them for it.
Now this post is not about Akanksha, or about the mistakes one is making as an entrepreneur. It’s about updating you about just a small tweak that if you make in your business, your growth as a business will skyrocket. And that’s not an over promise. I’ll prove that right now.
We are going to quickly go through what social media is, why it has become a buzzword today, how entrepreneurs can fully exploit it for their benefit and growth, how to pick up the right social media channels for your business (because there is a whole ocean of them out there). We shall also talk about what Social Media Virtual Assistance is, what it can possibly do & how to make one work for you. Now to begin with the most basic but the most important……
What is Social Media?
We are not in primary school anymore, so the textbook definition goes straight to the dumpster. Just try to absorb that according to the very latest research, about 2.34 billion people all around the world are social media users.
Ever heard of facebook (who are we kidding)! You are probably on it. That is a social media channel. A bakery very close to my office posts tempting pictures of the cakes that they make on instagram. How do I know? Because I take one home every Friday. Instagram is a social media channel.
So basically any websites and applications that enables users to create and share content or to participate in social networking online is social media.
No rocket science there, see!
Businesses & social media – how they are inter connected
Today, 99% of the top brands are on facebook, 97% on twitter, 70% on Google+, 69% on pinterest & 59% on instagram.
80% of the Small & Medium sized businesses use social media to drive growth for their business & 3 out of 5 SMBs credits social media for gaining new customers.
64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy the products of brands they follow online. 16 Million local business pages have been created as of May 2013 which is a 100 percent increase from 8 million in June 2012 (source: facebook). Here are some of the benefits that business owners have seen through the use of Social Media…
Enhanced brand exposure
With about 3 billion social media users (and increasing everyday), one post of your brand is seen by millions of eyes not just restricted to your country, but worldwide.
It leverages your efforts to reach new people. By the way, I came to know about the bakery while scrolling through my instagram updates.
More knowledge about target audience
Social media marketing channels give you immensely valuable insights to the likes and dislikes of your target audience. If you understand them better, you can design better & more useful content to capture their attention & imagination.
Quick customer grievance Redressal
Many of the customers prefer to discuss about your services through their social media profiles since they spend a considerable amount of time there. It’s better to target & soothe salty customers before they publicize negatively.
Exposure to fresh opportunities
Not being on social media can cause you to miss out on the potential opportunities to connect and collaborate with various other brands out there. for instance Linkedin facilitates professional network building.
Learn about current trends
One can learn a lot about the ever dynamic preferences of the users through their online activities. Their inclination towards something new can be seen by their online behavior.
One can build a super impressive email list/ contact list through engaging content. And the best part? The emails and contacts are of no one else but your potential customer, highly interested in your content and products. What can be more interesting!
Monitoring of competition
Carefully track down your competition & monitor their activities. See how their followers react to their content & if you find a spot to improvise, do it with all you got. It will make you stand out from your competition & your product and content will keep on improving. More power to you!
As per a HubSpot report, 70% of companies surveyed mentioned that they have deployed a dedicated social media team or at least one person dedicated to handling social media.
Modes of advertising are never perennial. Technology changes and so do them. Guys buy new Jordans not because they see the pair in the store (who really has time for that) but because they see pretty snapshots of them in their newsfeed. 37% of the twitter users will purchase from a brand they follow.
Increased brand equity
Valuation of brands depends on the magnitude of their followers on social media. The more followers, the greater is the valuation. Hence, your valuation as a brand is directly proportional to the quantum of your followers. It might come across as surprising, but is indeed true. Brand expert David Aaker described brand equity as “A set of assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name and symbol, that adds to or subtracts from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers.” Your follower base on social media marketing channels account for an imperative asset adding value to the brand manifold.
But beware of the blunders
The most common error a business makes is to publicise on wrong social media platform. The cons of doing so are innumerable inclusive of a sheer wastage of time, effort & money. The Return on investment also turns out to be low.
A cosmetics brand will fetch nothing publicizing on Reddit. But how about a food outlet posting a picture of a steaming hot crème de tomate with warm breadsticks on Instagram. Stop drooling!
But here is the thing…
while using social media for your business can exponentially enhance the growth, there are certain limitations too. And if you have been using any social media channel, you might be familiar with some of them.
Too many social media channels
Let alone all the social media platforms in the world, the number of top social media channels reaches a whopping 21, most of the names even I haven’t heard of, but they attract massive traffic.
- Facebook messenger
- Baidu Tieba
- Siena Weibo
And if can’t even pronounce some of the names, brace yourself for the next jolt…
Every Social media platform works differently
No two platforms are the same in their working and operation. Some of these are microblogging sites, some are photo sharing & few are messengers. All have a user interface that is unique and ingenious.
A channel’s relevance to a specific business
Not every SM platform is useful to a business. There are some which give zero return on the time & effort invested. That’s why it becomes so essential to choose your allies right.
Choose the wrong ones & massacre your valuable time which could have been invested in a better and more profitable activity like finding new clients. You get the picture right!
These are only a handful of hurdles that every entrepreneur faces. There are others too, but we will not dive into them right now. However…. Virtual Assistant for your social media is one quick fix you need. But before you rush and buy a Social media assistance service, you should at least find out what it REALLY is, what a virtual assistant social media can do for you & whether the benefits derived from having a social media marketing virtual assistant resonate to you…
Now the most important question answered……
What is a socialmedia virtual assistant (or in-short SoMed VA)?
Now get this…sometimes it’s much better to understand what something does for us than to cram its definition like a mugger.
Researches and creates content
Researching is one of the most important tasks a virtual assistant carries out. It digs out and drafts suitable content as per your marketing strategy & business’s image
Engages with the audience and monitors the progress
Ever been to Amazon’s facebook page? See how prompt they are to respond to customer’s complaints on their statuses. Even if the solution is not provided instantly, at least the customer is satisfied that his issue was addressed. There, you earn a happy customer. When other people see that, their confidence in the brand develops. There, you earn a potential customer.
Builds & manages your network
A SoMed VA also known as Social media manager virtual assistant builds your network by connecting with people just the way you do by yourself.
Social media profiles upkeep
A social media marketing virtual assistant keeps all your social media profiles tidy and updated. All the relevant contents are kept & everything irrelevant or out of date is removed.
So for a simple example, you are Chris, a chocolate maker. The upcoming occasion is Christmas. You want to post an offer starting 3 days before Christmas & ending a day post christmas. Your SoMed VA will do it for you along with replying to people’s comments & queries.
Manages Facebook Ads
All your facebook ads will be managed. Lengthy tasks like SEO, keyword search, advertising options will be undertaken and performed with due diligence.
Creates new pages and accounts
when you avail social media virtual assistant services, the assistant takes on the task to create and customise new pages & accounts for you on various platforms.
Runs and manages social quiz/competitions
In order to increase people’s engagement, your SoMed VA organises quiz & various competitions through your social media accounts.
Handles competitive analysis
It keeps a close eye on & analyses your competition along with suggesting & performing required action.
You may ask how all this is going to benefit you.
Here are a few broad strokes…
Saves your time
Do you have 26 hours a day?
Stephen R. Covey says that the key is in not spending time, but investing it. A social media marketing virtual assistant spares you your valuable time that you can then spend practically spend anywhere.
Let’s be a little honest here. When I used to handle my own social media accounts, I used to waste hours scrolling down useless news feeds. Why? Because the flesh is weak. It’s very tempting. And I am sure most of you out there have the same issue.
Its much better to delegate your work to the Social media virtual assistant.
Wanna take a refreshing walk in the nearby park? Go for it.
Imagine a barrel of red wine. That’s the reserve of your decision making ability throughout the day. And it depletes! It depletes every time you put it to work. And as it depletes, the quality of decisions you make takes a blow.
So it’s much better to let a SoMed VA handle your social media, and channelise your efforts to something more productive and revenue generating, like client acquisition.
Saves your money
There is a way you can bypass the need of spending on a virtual assistant social media package by having your own in-house team of employees handling your accounts. But then in that case, please do take into consideration the fixed monthly bills incurred by those employees salaries.
And it’s not just the humongous sum of money being taken out of your pocket every month, there is also the space required for the employees to sit & the equipment to be used by them.
Arrange that and the social media virtual assistant rates would seem like a nickel to you.
No need to go through the learning curve
Did you see the 21 bubbles of different social media channels available! Scroll up and have a look at them again if you want. Each and every one of them has a different user interface…absolutely unique. And to learn them all in a limited time, you’ll probably require a 170 points IQ. Do you remember I said that it’s better to be humble sometimes!
SoMed VA is an expert
Its much better to hand over the work to a professional SoMed VA (Most of the VAs carry college degrees). A SoMed VA knows about the latest social media channels being launched. Don’t you think it’s much better to make your space on a freshly launched platform than wait for it to get overcrowded and cluttered with vendors!
Efficiently exploits the current Social media platforms
A social media virtual assistant, by virtue of them being experts, know every nook and cranny of how a social media platform operates and how to maximise the output from it. So it’s possible that you, as an individual, may be operating it at let’s say 50 miles an hour whereas the VA comes, crushes the throttle and makes your social media vehicle reach 500 miles an hour.
By now, you must have understood that a social media virtual assistant performs every action that you do on your social media accounts for the growth of your business while giving you back your time, money & efforts at a fraction of the cost. Here is the how part…
How to work with a Social media virtual assistant
Having a social media virtual assistant handle your social media accounts, you’ll have to provide him with all the usernames and password of your channels to have him access them. Now that’s a daunting thought, right! But before you scream & break your computer screen, make sure you understand this…
It is possible to share the usernames and passwords with your SoMed VA without virtually any security concern. One such tool is KeePassX. A few other such tools are :
- Your own browser
These tools enable you to share your confidential usernames & passwords with your virtual assistant. The details you feed in any of them will not be visible to the VA as the passwords would appear as asterisks. You can further customise and group different accounts. And when you’d want to pull back the information, simply stop sharing the information with them. Moreover its very easy to store all your passwords and details at one place because it’s really hard to remember 100’s of characters of dozens of details.
While working with a virtual assistant
- Make a list of tasks
Make a list of things you’d want your social media virtual assistant to do. SoMed VAs can perform a number of tasks. It’s important to narrow down to tasks you’d like them to do for you. For example, a sample list can be
- Writing status updates for facebook
- Creating a “how to” blog posts every week for linkedin
- Personalised replies to comments
- Creating relevant facebook posts or manage Facebook Auto Poster
- Posting instagram pictures
- Dealing with unskilled tasks such as accepting friend/follower requests
- Updating offers
- Create a system
I can’t stress it enough how important it is to make a manual for the virtual assistant. The manual should contain a set of generic questions that the virtual assistant can ask. By creating a system, you make it easier for the SoMed VA to carry out his/her tasks efficiently without asking you over and over again. You also end up saving lot of your time by bypassing the need to answer generic questions. Win-Win situation for both!
- Set up goals
Draw up and hand over certain social media goals to the VA to be achieved. Few sample goals can be…
- Increasing XYZ number of likes & views on the content on facebook
- Increasing the number of followers on twitter
- Augmenting instagram followers
- Increasing X% subscribers on youtube
What it does is that it keeps the virtual assistant on his toes. Also, when somebody has concrete goals in front, achieving them becomes easier. Things become less vague.
- Review the work
Dont just stop after setting the goals to be achieved. Regularly comparing the performance of the virtual assistant to the benchmark is equally, if not more, essential.
Once the targets are set, ask your SoMed VA to submit a report at the end of a certain period, say bi-weekly or monthly. That way you can monitor real time progress and compare them to the goals and see where the improvement needs to be done.
How to monitor the type of content being posted
If you are concerned whether the type of content being posted by the virtual assistant is going to be harmonious with the image of your brand, don’t worry!
You can ask your social media virtual assistant to schedule content.
Buffer is a great tool for that. Its work is simple. It adds updates to the buffer queue to be posted later in the day or a specific time chosen by you or your virtual assistant. There you can check the content about to go live and can recommend necessary changes.
Hootsuiteis a slightly bigger tool than buffer, supporting more platforms, more integration. It supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, MailChimp, Reddit, Storify, Tumblr, and Marketo etc.
Most social media virtual assistants rates are on hourly basis.
Now what I personally like about this is that one pays only for the productive hours. Out of a series of virtual assistant social media packages, you choose the one you like.
So, a social media virtual assistant would not only work on all your social media channels, you’d also see your brand’s online following strengthening & the value of your brand multiply. Working on social media is not your main work but in today’s world it’s undoubtedly indispensable.
You can’t just afford to try to handle all your accounts by yourself & expect to churn out their full potential. Your followers on social media never sleep, it’s a 24/7 job to maintain the content, look out for acerbic comments from few salty customers (before they turn into blisters, its very easy for the negative publicity to spread like wildfire)
With their unquestionable competence in doing your work better than you so that you get more time for other more important tasks of your business (and personal life), your social media presence will bloom & take your business to unprecedented heights.
Its an upward spiral, continuing on and on.
And just like I needed Akanksha to handle my calls so that I could channelise my efforts towards the major operations of my business, you require a virtual assistant to handle your social media so that you can devote more time to the heart of your business. By the way, I have Imran working for me as my SoMed VA who I appointed just a while ago.
Is there any specific issue that you face while handling your social media?
Check out the PDF “The 4 pillars for Social Media success” attached below to keep a robust online presence. Remember, your competitors are watching you closely. If there is a crack in your social media wall, they will or probably are exploiting the benefits at your expense, pulling away the followers, and in turn the revenue that could have been yours.
Is there any doubt that you have about the working of social media virtual assistants, their effectiveness or anything else related to that under the sky? Ask away!
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You May want to read this: How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost?