Through networking and job postings, I’ve met a series of different people with various job titles – usually the ones they’ve coined for themselves. A term I was introduced to recently was that of a ‘virtual assistant.’ A virtual assistant helps businesses with administrative, creative and social media tasks online. Virtual assistants are typically hired on a contract basis with no employee benefits. They typically work from home and update everything through online channels.
So, what you just read sums up my career. At least, that’s what I thought my career would be like going into this business. But, as it turns out… I’m not actually virtual. I love to go offline and observe my clients’ businesses. I like to interact with business owners, customers and the environment to really embrace the social element of these channels.
I wouldn’t call myself a virtual assistant because it doesn’t feel natural that way. I’d prefer to call myself a social media manager. Some things can only be done offline. While it’s easy to maintain a social presence, you really need to balance it out with face-to-face interaction. You truly understand the people you are working with when you see them in real life and talk to them. The online world causes things to be misconstrued and complicated what with unknown tones in emails and social responses.
Once you understand your client’s needs and their customer base, it is much easier to plan campaigns and ideas that promote their business ideals. By regularly meeting with clients, you create a strengthening relationship full of real connections and understanding, which extends into your social media work.
It is helpful to work with people who are geographically located in a relatively close space so you can stop by often and on-the-fly for last minute events or happenings. Although not always possible, I try to meet with all my clients regularly in order to build social campaigns that last and have staying power.
To conclude, I don’t want to discount virtual assistants. They have great value. I, personally, am better at engaging with people face-to-face to gauge their needs and wants. It takes a highly-skilled individual to take on a virtual assistant role, with an ability to communicate that is out of the offline world! My communication style is much more hands-on (and hands-off keyboard, if you will). So, kudos to virtual assistants because you’re awesome…but I will never be anything like you.