If you've been reading this blog for the past few months, you're starting to realize:
- The benefits of social media in an inbound marketing plan
- The importance of content in your strategic marketing plan
- How content curation can help you build your inbound marketing campaign cost-effectively
- What aspects of social media, content curation and content creation may be done in-house and what can be outsourced
This leads us to the role of a social media assistant. Your social media assistant can be virtual, or someone from your in-house staff. It’s possible for your marketing assistant to double as your social media assistant, or maybe you select someone from your sales or marketing team with a passion for social media. (Social media assistant could be the perfect role for that employee you perceive spends “too much time” on Facebook and checking email!) If you're planning to hire someone new to fill this role, why not consider a freelancer and save on hiring hassles and additional overhead burden?
What You Can Expect from a Social Media Assistant?
What should you expect from a social media assistant? Let's look at some of the tasks a social media assistant can help with:
- Setting up pages, establishing presence and building lists on the social networks relevant to your strategic objectives
- Content curation of articles, videos and white papers that connect to your audience’s needs
- Writing blog posts based on an editorial calendar established by high-level executives or a social media consultant
- Advising on buyer personas and market trends (your social media assistant is the one “tapped-in,” on a day-to-day level, with your network)
- Maintaining momentum in your inbound marketing campaigns and fostering enthusiasm for social media amongst your sales and marketing teams
This last point may be the most important; your social media assistant should have a passion for social media that is infectious. Getting key personnel enrolled in social media efforts will yield the best, fastest results and ensure sustainability for your campaigns. It’s not uncommon for the focus on inbound marketing to waver in the face of everyday business demands and your efforts won't wither and die as long as you have someone keeping the momentum going.
On the other hand, your overall strategic marketing plan -- and the role social media and inbound marketing will play in it -- may need the input and support of high-level marketing personnel. Your social media assistant can make recommendations and advise on courses of action, but may not have the experience or savvy to “steer the ship.” That's not to say you won't find a social media assistant with the expertise to go the extra mile -- but it's more likely that individual will have a different name, such as social media consultant or inbound marketing professional. If you already have a clear vision and a strong strategic marketing plan -- and just need someone to execute critical steps in your campaigns -- then a social media assistant will help keep things rolling.
Where to Find a Virtual Social Media Assistant
There’s no question that the volume of available virtual assistants has increase exponentially over the last few years. The challenge is finding someone who has the right training, experience, mindset and work habits to effectively support your needs. I’ve found several resources that are very helpful in locating social media VA’s:
- www.ivaa.org The International Virtual Assistant Association is the largest association of virtual assistants and was formed in 2001. You can run a basic search from a drop-down list of categories and then specify your geographic region (country and state) to refine the results. You’ll get a list of virtual assistants who are current IVAA members and a list of their qualifications and certifications.
- www.teamdoubleclick.com Team Double-Click formed in 2000 and is a virtual staffing agency that matches the specific needs of your company with a list of screened candidates to ensure the best fit.
- www.vaclassroom.com VA Classroom is primarily a social media virtual assistant training company that offers a small directory of its certified alumni. The training is well regarded in the social media community – the directory is not as robust as I would like to see it but it can be a useful resource.
- www.odesk.com oDesk is the granddaddy of the freelance job placement sites and can be useful in locating social media VA’s. The platform is intuitive to work with in terms of placing a job request and managing responses to your placement – the two key areas to focus on are the job description (and very specific requirements are best) and your own screening process to quickly distill the candidate list down to a manageable number. Rates tend to be on the lower side due to the international composition of respondents and assessing a candidate’s English proficiency should be a core component of your screening.
If you’ve found dependable resources for social media virtual assistants feel free to mention them in the comments.