Trust is a Five-Letter WordAnita Kirkbride
I was meeting with a potential new client recently when she expressed her uneasiness at “outsourcing” social media work. I know many experts and afficionados abhor the thought of letting someone else “do” your social media, but the simple fact is that not every business has the time, interest or skill to do it themselves. Yes, many can and should, but many others need help. And help can come in different forms.
I am a social media virtual assistant. An “outsourcee”. A sub-contractor. No bones about it, that’s what I do for small businesses and charities. In an ideal situation (for me) a client will hand over the reins of their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts, and perhaps even their website and blog. I would have full access to act on their behalf in those forums.
I can hear the shrieks and gasps of horror already! I also hear the subtle “tsk, tsk” from a few of you. Here’s my view on it and why I think some businesses and charities need to hire someone like me to help with their social media and the key issue I think is holding some people back.
I am a trained communicator
I studied public relations and communications in university and received a real, honest to goodness Bachelor of Public Relations degree for it from Mount Saint Vincent University, right here in good ol’ Halifax, Nova Scotia. Studying PR gave me insight into communication strategy, planning and design, as well as a fundamental understanding of how to write for a variety of audiences and purposes. While not everyone will like my personal writing style, I consider myself a good writer.
Certainly many professionals are good writers, but not all of them are trained in communication strategy. There’s also a large group of professionals who are not NECESSARILY writers (think realtors, accountants, lawyers, doctors, electricians).* You don’t want to hire me to fix your wiring issues, so having electricians post on behalf of your handyman company may not be the best choice.
Even though Twitter is only 140 characters at a time, you still need to write things that make sense, are grammatically correct to an extent, don’t contain spelling errors and so on. If writing just isn’t your “thing”, let someone like me help you.
The key issue is trust.
Trust is the thing that gets most people. They’ve just met me over a coffee, how do they know they can trust me to tweet for their company? I say it’s really no different than hiring a new employee and asking them to do it. Or hiring out for your annual report writing, speech writing, or ad copy. Someone else is providing the voice and you are approving it. With my services, once the trust factor is there, you’re just pre-approving what I’m doing.
Maybe I view my services differently than other people, or maybe my services ARE different than other similar companies. I don’t want to simply copy and paste your tweets into a schedule that you give me. If you have the time to do that, you are capable to posting and tweeting for yourself. I want to become your “part-time communications employee”. I want you to give me the level of trust that you would give to someone who is working in your office.
The part of my services that I enjoy the most is researching relevant content to share for a client. Going out there into the Twitterverse and scouring for like-minded professionals to follow, or industry resources to retweet is fun and educational. It forces me to learn about things I might not otherwise have taken the time to research. I want to learn as much as I can about a client’s business so that I can successfully promote them.
Granted I will never be an electrician or a lawyer. I can’t answer questions about wire crossing or tort law, so I leave that part up to you. I’ll do the background work so you can jump in and do the fun stuff like answering client’s specific questions and showing your personality. HAH! And you thought I got to have all the fun.
*PLEASE! I am not trying to disparage any profession in general. I am simply saying that being a professional does not make you a good writer. I’m sure there are many electricians out there with a hidden talent for writing and probably the odd PR practitioner who has a penchant for wiring.