5 Important Steps for Social Media Managers to Attract the Right Kind of Virtual Assistant

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{Diane Leone is providing this guest blog. She is a published author with numerous articles/columns in regional and national publications as well as online articles and two published books: Marketing Multifamily Housing with Integrated Marketing Strategies and How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Interior Design Business}

Social media is ever changing, constantly in motion. The rules of engagement change all of the time. When you are selling your time for services, you eventually run out of time — then you’re limited on how many customers and how much work you can take on.

You don’t have to be limited!!!

Hire a Virtual Assistant to help you. I know, you are worried that you have to do it all because of the “what if’s”… what if this happens, what if that happens. It’s enough to drive you crazy. I bet about now you are thinking, “I can’t afford a Virtual Assistant and how and where would I find one that I feel comfortable enough with to give access to my clients?”  (And, if you work with a VA in the United States, you must follow freelance/employee rules.)

But, take it from experience, to manage a large workflow and definitely to take on more work, you either need to hire staff or a virtual assistant.

5 steps to find and attract the right kind of virtual assistant.

  1. Decide, based on the task and work, if you will hire a Local VA or hire a VA on an online platform.

If you go the online route, you must be comfortable with the VA working remotely. Decide which countries you will hire from and designate the language the VA needs to know fluently.  

There are several platforms to choose from. Upwork.com earns good marks on their freelancers. There are many other agency sites to choose from. A good way to get responses from qualified VAs is to write a subject line that clearly states what the work is such as “social media posting” or “create Instagram posts,” and include the amount you will pay per hour.

Another way to further narrow the applicants is to outline in detail the assignment or job description including the specific programs they need to be proficient in. If you are using well-known programs, it is likely you will find VAs that are familiar with the same programs. This will save on training time to learn a specific program.

If you want to screen further, within the text include a line that goes something like this: “Include the word Apple in your response.” If the person didn’t read the complete job posting or understand it, he or she probably is not going to be among your top candidates.

You might also want to select your top 2 or 3 applicants and assign them the same task to see the quality of work. Sometimes this helps determine the person you want to hire and is worth the money. 

  1. Use Online Programs to Communicate with VAs

Asana.com and Slack.com– Both are free online project management platforms that allow you to create a team environment making it  easier to communicate and manage a project without using email.

Calendly.com – a free online platform to schedule appointments. You can include a link in your email and the person receiving the email can use the link to schedule a time on your calendar that is open.

MyHours.com – a free platform to track billable hours. If you hire someone through Upwork, it is strongly recommended to always have your VA bill you through Upwork and for you to pay through Upwork,  but MyHours.com is a great tool for tracking billable hours.

TimeAndDate.com – Working with VAs in other time zones? This page is a quick way to know what time it is anywhere and offers much more, such as calculators and timers.

  1. Keep Your Information Secure

If you are responsible for your client’s website and social media sites, you need to feel confident that when you hire a VA you are in control of the security. Over time, you will build up trust and get to know your VA. You want to protect yourself and your VA while feeling equally confident that you are keeping your client’s pages secure. You could use one of several password manager programs.

These are online programs that allow you to securely share login information with VAs. They can login and work without seeing your password.

Within the backend of platforms such as WordPress and Facebook™ you can assign a role as well as unique username & password to your VAs. Not everyone needs full Administration access.

  1. Create a detailed Standard Operating Procedure or SOP for all tasks

This might sound like a lot of work however, if you create it once, you don’t have to explain it every time you hire someone. There are screen capture extensions that work with Chrome that can be used to capture a shot of each step of a task. Sometimes you may want to actually record yourself going through each step and explaining what you are doing.

Jing is one such extension and it is free. With Jing you can capture the screenshot and draw and write on it. This makes it easy to develop a visual SOP for a given task.

Jing example

  1. Communicate with your VA

You’ve created a SOP and you’ve hired a VA. What’s next? Communication! Skype or Facetime or any of the many ways to communicate online will work. You want to go through the work agreement terms and the SOP to answer any questions.

Communication is the key to success in working with a Virtual Assistant. Get to know the VA and how he/she works. A good VA can help you grow your business and is worth the time invested to find the right person for the job!

{Diane Leone founded Leone Social, a Digital Marketing Agency and The Marketing Edge Group-a public relations and marketing firm working with numerous clients including small to large corporations, non-profits, government agencies, political campaigns and grassroots organizations. Diane is a professional speaker and trainer, focusing on helping business owners find success}

 

 

 

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Showing Some Respect for Virtual Assistants

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Absence {distance} makes the heart grow fonder— except apparently in the case of Virtual Assistants from what I read in one social media group’s postings recently. Out of sight and out of mind. Check this out for yourself and tell me if Virtual Assistants in this thread are being treated less like fellow entrepreneurs and more like commodities (I deleted pictures and names of the commenters because I did not secure permission to quote them).

Doctor’s note? Time-waster? Corpo-rats? Common excuse? Needing to go to the hospital is cause for being fired? I found that very harsh. Especially considering some people who leave the corporate world to start their own biz do so because of unsympathetic, unfeeling treatment from that corporate world when they had a personal situation interfere with work.

The question then is: Social Media Managers, when you get busy, where do you turn for help? Virtual Assistants! But, do you hire the services of a Virtual Assistant as an employee, or as a contractor? Consider this additional question, are you an employee of your small business client, or are you contractor?

For answers, I sought out the comments of Social Media Managers within Liz Benny’s “Social Media Monkey” closed page group. Their responses:

“Corpo-rats LOL love it ha-ha. Yes, def too harsh, she is not an employee, but a VA. So yeah, would not get rid of her, I would wish her a good recovery and then make contact again to move on together. You’ve got to be there for your team if you want them to be there for you!” — Federica Marchesini of MJ Social Party Ltd., based in Perth, and serving all of Australia.

Interesting approach. The SMM/VA relationship being less owner/employee and more of a team effort.

“That is tough. Sometimes life happens. Business owners forget that a VA is a contracted business owner – they are not an employee. Many VA’s can do lots of different tasks but they aren’t mind readers – two-way communication is the key.” — Sharon Baillie, speaking from first-hand knowledge as she operates both a social media agency Basically Social in New South Wales, Australia and a VA business Baillie Admin Services.

A virtual assistant (VA) handles daily clerical, scheduling, and technical portions of a business that need to be kept operating smoothly. Virtual assistants work remotely from locations of their own choosing, anywhere in the world.

“I agree with the third commenter in the initial post. I would make note and maybe consider this a potential warning sign, but also just proceed with caution going forward. I agree that these people are being overly harsh. If not three strikes before they’re out, I would hope for two! Things happen!” — Jacquelyn Gutc, of Magpie Media, serving the Detroit area and beyond.

Things happen. You have hired a human VA over a bot VA because you desire the human interaction, you want to set personal parameters based on how you operate your business and the services you offer, not factory default programming.

“I think they are being too hard on them. They are VA’s, they are not employees. My process when I hire a VA is this: I am very specific in the title of what the position is for and how much per hour. That helps eliminate people that are too expensive for my position. I hire one VA for each duty, so I don’t expect a VA to do everything. I am very specific with the description of background/experience I’m looking for and very detailed about the work and number of hours. I ask them to type a word, any word, like “apple” in the subject line to make sure they are reading everything. This eliminates 30-40% of people that respond.

I will usually look at 2-3 people I would hire and give them a short test to do something in the job description and then I judge how well they followed instructions, the quality of the work etc. When hired, I create a SOP or Standard Operating Procedure of the step by step job process. I also establish number of hours and when they will work those hours. If you do all of this, it helps you get a good fit. Things happen, so I would reach out and ask if everything is okay. I wouldn’t be harsh, and I would never ask for a doctor’s note. Just the way I work with VA’s.” Diane Leone of Leone Social, serving St. Augustine Beach, FL and beyond

And for a final word, an actual VA…….

“As a VA myself – I’m a business owner NOT an employee; if I was asked for a doctor’s note, that would be MY red flag to cut ties with that client. Having said that, I would let the client know if I wasn’t able to get their work done on schedule, I would reach out to another VA to help in the meantime until I was back on my feet. I have found that VA’s are a supportive group of people. You NEED to have emergency plans in place when you’re a business owner – not just a VA but for any business.

The only thing this person should be asking is if they are ok, and how long do they think they might be off for. If it’s an extended period then fine, look for another VA so you can meet your deadlines, but this illness may just be a one-off occurrence that just happens. Thank God, this guy is not a client of mine. His attitude is, quite frankly, appalling. Would he ask his accountant or lawyer for a doctor’s note? I’m betting he wouldn’t have the nerve. Pleased to see Anthony that you think these guys were being ‘unjustly’ harsh.”  Carolyn White, of Office Advantage, also serving Australia from New South Wales.

To be, or not to be a Virtual Assistant–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (harsh clients) … or…

What do you think?