Using a Personal Virtual Assistant for Social Media – Is it Wise?
by Pam Baluyo
(Beverly Hills, CA) Social media marketing is widely used by big business, as cited in several studies including one by Mashable that reported 79 percent of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies were using social media marketing in 2010, specifically: Twitter (66 percent) Facebook (54 percent), YouTube (50 percent), corporate blog (33 percent).
In a Jupiter Research study, 70 percent of those marketing online reported social media marketing bringing the best results in terms of brand awareness.
Social media generally costs less than other forms of marketing. While large corporations even find hiring a social media manager and team is cost effective compared to other marketing methods, the owner of a small company or the solo entrepreneur who doesn't have funding for such may not know where to begin.
Like networking off line on the golf course or at Rotary, networking online is powerful, but to a higher degree. To compete in today's world, a business should be networking on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, the company blog, various forums and possibly additional social media sites.
But how can the owner of a 20-employee business or a solo entrepreneur find time to navigate social networking online? There's much more to do than schmooze with potential clients on the links.
A small business owner may find in the budget room for a social media marketing specialist or may teach himself through online research, books, seminars and/or a college course.
However, this leaves the actual networking tasks to be completed.
Adding social media marketing to the tasks already assigned to an employee is not the answer... unless the social media marketing job entails nothing more than setting up a Twitter or Facebook account and posting a few updates or Tweets here and there.
As businesses learn more about social networking online they realize there's much more to it than this is they can to compete successfully.
Enter the virtual assistant. Many small businesses already utilize off-site assistants to handle administrative tasks such as email customer support and bookkeeping; however with social media, there's some hesitation. Looking at a variety of forum discussions on the subject reveals about 50 percent of business owners feel relationship building should be left to those invested in the business.
The reasoning is that social media is supposed to be authentic. There's also a trust issue with some. Due to the lightning speed that networking propagates and travels online, there's as great a potential for damaging a reputation as there is for building one.
It's important to decide whether you will use a virtual assistant who specializes in social media or a virtual assistant proficient in handling tasks that don't involve direct communications, while the blogging, Tweets and other communications are handled in-house.
For example, direct communication tasks will includes ones such as writing regular blog posts, Tweeting daily, and writing Facebook updates.
But there are also many administrative tasks that are of the sort more often handled by
virtual assistants. Depending on the assistant's skill set, these tasks may include:
setting up profiles, transcribing blog posts you have dictated into a digital recorder, uploading videos at YouTube,using Google Alerts and other tools to track the business' online reputation (and report to you regularly), research keywords for SEO to use in social media communications, find and recommend apps, install WordPress plugins for a blog and many more.
And there are some that fall in between, more likened to the customer support that is also often handled by virtual assistants, such as moderating forums and responding with somewhat scripted replies to the less sensitive comments and questions.
As with all everything else you would delegate to a VA, consider delegating the tasks that are the most mundane to you, leaving time for you to do what you do best for your business.
However, when it comes to outsourcing relationship building, do take care in checking the credentials and references of the virtual assistant who will be representing your business.
You can have the virtual assistant ghostwrite these communications, but since the nature of social media is transparency, it is better to either write them yourself of have the VA post as a representative, customer support, public relations writer or something of this nature.
Virtual assistants can be found online at their own websites, at third party sites such as Elance and through agencies such as the United States based, Virtual Knowledge Workers, Inc (VKW).
If you hire your own freelancer, be sure to check credentials and verify references. Or use an agency that will do all the background checking for you, If maximizing your savings with an overseas virtual assistant, you will either need to understand and comply with that countries laws or use an agency, such as VKW, that being the employer of record takes this responsibility.
Is it wise to delegate social media marketing tasks to a virtual assistant? Yes, if the virtual assistant is competent and trust worthy, and if you maintain the authenticity that social media participants expect.
For more information go to: http://vkwinc.com/
Pam Baluyo is a freelance writer based out of Beverly Hills and New York City covering current Human Resource Management trends. She can be reached at (310) 598-8433.
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