The Drawbacks of Hiring a Virtual Assistant for Social Media (And 2 Alternatives to Consider)

When we speak with business owners and entrepreneurs about our executive assistant services, many of them ask whether our assistants can help them manage their social media accounts.

Often they have business pages on the major platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) but there’s no dedicated person who’s maintaining those accounts, posting regularly, replying to comments, or performing other basic social media tasks. They don’t have time to do it themselves, and their small teams are busy working on their core job functions.

To fill this gap managing their online presence, some businesses attempt to solve this by hiring a social media virtual assistant. But a social media VA is just one of several options businesses have to help them with social media—and it often isn’t the best one, for a number of reasons. 

Many businesses would benefit far more from hiring either a) a full-time, experienced social media manager who’s well versed in branding, strategy, and content creation — which most social media VAs are not, or b) a generalist executive assistant who can do everything a typical social media VA can do, while also taking many other tasks off an executive’s plate.

This article will explain:

  • What a social media VA is and the tradeoffs involved with hiring one
  • Why most businesses would be better off with a full-time social media manager or executive assistant who does social media as a part of their job
  • How to think about which option is best for you

Social media management is one of the many ways our executive assistants help our clients free up time to focus on their core competencies. If you’ve been wanting an assistant but haven’t had the time to hire one, click here to get started. You can try a Persona assistant for a month or two and see how you like it. For testimonials from our clients, check out our homepage.

What Is a Social Media Virtual Assistant? (And 4 Tradeoffs Involved with Hiring One)

A social media virtual assistant is a remote assistant that helps businesses manage their social media accounts. Typically, social media VAs work on a part-time, contractual basis. And they’re commonly hired through freelance marketplaces or companies that offer virtual assistant services.

Most social media VAs (both freelancers and VA services) advertise themselves as capable of doing the following types of social media tasks:

  • Keeping your social media profiles up to date
  • Curating relevant content for your target audience
  • Drafting social media posts (e.g. crafting Tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn posts, etc.)
  • Posting content or scheduling posts to be published
  • Monitoring social media activity and responding to comments
  • Planning and executing social media campaigns
  • Tracking engagement metrics

On the surface, this list of activities sounds really impressive. Having someone manage all of these things could make a significant impact on your social media presence. However, in practice, there are drawbacks to outsourcing your social media management to a VA.

1. Finding a Great Social Media VA Is Hit or Miss

Typically, hiring a social media VA is relatively affordable, which makes it seem attractive. But from what we’ve seen in the marketplace, the bar for becoming a social media VA is not very high, so the quality of their output may not always be up to par with how you want your brand to be represented online.

There are good social media VAs out there, but they tend to be quite rare.

2. You’re Likely to Be One of Multiple Clients

The nature of hiring a part-time social media VA is that they’re likely to have several clients outside of your business. This means that:

  • You may not be their top priority.
  • They’re prone to making mistakes because they’re managing accounts for several different brands.
  • They won’t be as invested in or knowledgeable about your business, customers, and target audience.

3. It’s Likely to Be a Temporary Engagement

When you hire a part-time person to manage your social media, it’s common for that engagement to be short-term.

Whether it’s a few weeks or several months, at some point, that VA may move on or not work out, and whatever momentum you’ve built up on social media platforms can stall as a result.

4. It’s Unlikely They’ll Create High Quality Content

One of the biggest things businesses would like their VA to do is create high quality content that they can promote through social media channels. But like many other digital marketing activities (e.g. SEO, ad campaigns, copywriting, etc.), creating high quality content is a specialized skill that requires a deep understanding of your business, industry, and target audience. The average social media VA won’t have this, so if they do create content for you, it’s unlikely to be impressive to your audience.

Who Should Use a Social Media Virtual Assistant?

If you’re not concerned about quality content and you’re simply looking to have someone post regularly on your profiles so that people see you’re active on social media, hiring a social media VA could be worth testing. But if you want a higher quality, more sophisticated approach to social media, you’re better off with one of the two options we cover below.

Note: If you decide to hire a part-time VA, check out our previous article on how to hire a virtual assistant which explains what to watch out for when hiring VAs, and how to increase the likelihood you find a good one. 

2 Alternatives to Consider: In-House Social Media Managers & Executive Assistants That Do Social Media

As we mentioned above, many companies would be better off hiring an in-house social media manager or an executive assistant who does social media in addition to other tasks.

And while these options deliver value in different ways, they both solve the drawbacks of hiring social media VAs:

  1. Higher Quality: Social media managers and executive assistants are typically well educated, serious professionals. The hit rate for finding a good one tends to be higher than finding a good VA.
  2. Dedicated: Bringing on an in-house social media manager, or a full-time executive assistant (whether in-house or through an executive assistant service), means they’re dedicated to working only on your business.
  3. Long-Term: Social media managers and executive assistants tend to be more long-term career paths compared to social media VAs, and therefore these individuals tend to be more committed to the companies they work for.
  4. Content: Both social media managers and executive assistants can help your business produce actual quality content, whether that’s creating it themselves (in the case of a social media manager) or helping to facilitate content creation by tapping into the expertise of your various team members (in the case of executive assistants).

The obvious tradeoff with these options compared to social media VAs is that they cost more, but they also deliver significantly more value to your business. The right option for you depends on whether you want to go all in on social media marketing, or if you’d find more value in a generalist executive assistant who can help manage your social media in addition to taking many other tasks off your plate.

Who Should Use an In-House Social Media Manager?

A social media manager will bring specialized expertise in social media marketing strategy. For example, they may come to the table with prior experience managing Facebook groups, leveraging influencer marketing, using hashtags to reach new audiences, or other nuanced social media tactics.

They’ll also be more experienced when it comes to creating social media content themselves. So if you want to develop a sophisticated social media program, and particularly want to hire someone for content creation, a social media manager is likely a great bet for you.

Who Should Use an Executive Assistant That Does Social Media?

In contrast, an executive assistant may or may not come to the table with a lot of prior social media experience. But assuming that you hire for the right generalist aptitudes and find an assistant who’s smart, a fast learner, and has great communication skills, they’ll be able to do the vast majority of what a social media manager or VA can do for you.

They’ll be able to manage your accounts, schedule, and post content with tools like Hootsuite, monitor and follow-up on audience engagement, use tools like Canva to do basic graphic design, and other practical things that go a long way to improving and maintaining your social media presence.

The massive benefit of using an executive assistant compared to a social media manager or VA is that their value goes way beyond social media management. For example, in addition to managing social media for our clients, our executive assistants perform many other activities such as:

  • Workflow and project management
  • Bookkeeping
  • Payroll
  • Customer support
  • Employee onboarding
  • Presentations
  • eCommerce management (on platforms like Amazon)
  • Personal assistant tasks

As a result, not only do our clients have an increased social media presence, but they have significantly more time to spend on things like product, business development, fundraising, or whatever their core competencies are.

The one potential drawback of an executive assistant is that they won’t necessarily be the right person to create your content. However, they can facilitate the content creation process.

For example, they can create systems or processes to elicit content ideas from the various teams at your company—your executive team, product team, customer support team, etc.—and have them contribute post ideas, relevant articles to share, customer success stories, and other stories that your audience would find interesting and engaging on social media.

So even though they may not be the right fit to produce content themselves, they can still help ensure that engaging content gets out the door—and arguably better content since it’s coming directly from the experts from within your company.

How Our Executive Assistant Service Works

If you think your company could benefit from an executive assistant that can improve your social media presence while also taking a lot of other tasks off your plate, check out our founding story to learn more about our company and the process we’ve developed for finding world-class executive assistants.

Or, if you’d like to speak with someone on our team, here’s how to get started with us:

  • Step 1: Complete our form to let us know your needs.
  • Step 2: If you’re a good fit, we’ll set up a call to discuss our service with you.
  • Step 3: Our team will hand pick an assistant who we think will be a great fit for you based on your needs.
  • Step 4: Our talent team will guide you through the onboarding process over 2-3 weeks.
  • Step 5: For a flat monthly rate, you get a fully dedicated assistant working for you 40 hours per week (no long-term commitment needed).

If you’ve been wanting an assistant but haven’t had the time to hire one, click here to get started. For testimonials from our clients, check out our homepage.

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