Ausoma’s Monthly Report (audio)

In which Sue answers my questions about the monthly report and phone call provided for our clients.

(Oh, go on, listen to the audio! It’s fun.)

If not, here’s a transcript:

Joel: Hi there. This is Joel.

Sue: And Sue.

Joel: And we are Ausoma.

Sue: Author’s social media marketing.

Joel: We help people…

Sue: …be social and get noticed using social media the right way.

Joel: Excellent. This month we’re going to talk about something that’s really important to me: marketing should be measurable. And that’s one reason why we rarely advocate buying advertising. Most advertising isn’t measurable; unless you do it really carefully you can’t measure what you’re buying for your marketing dollars. Something Ausoma offers is a monthly report of progress that’s been made. Tell us what the report concludes.

Sue: It’s actually a spreadsheet with each of the social media platforms. When a client first signs on I do a benchmark report noting how many followers they have for each network, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, whatever accounts they’re using. Then on the same day each month we create a report that tracks the number of followers they have for each social media platform, and website views if they give me access to their WordPress accounts or to their Google analytics account. We even will track the percentage of those views coming from social media networks if they do provide Google analytics. Also how many email subscribers they have if they use an email list. I even have one client that I’m tracking their book sales for them, they gave me their Amazon login so I can go in and do that.

Joel: Essentially it’s a snapshot of where they are at the moment with reference to ‘how much did we grow since last month?’ Does each monthly report include total growth since the original benchmark or is it just month to month?

Sue: It is month to month until they’ve been with me for a year. If a client’s been with me for a year then I do a percentage of increase in the past year and we do that every year for as long as they’re with me; I have a client who we just celebrated our five years together so we do that as well. I have one client who likes a quarterly report; we do monthly and quarterly but we set quarterly goals so his report is actually not just month to month but then looking at each quarter how did we do versus the last quarter.

Joel: Do you customize these reports?

Sue: Absolutely. Each client has different things they like to have monitored and tracked so we will do that. These reports are just for my Pro and Dream packages; the Econ package does not normally include this report, though I have made exceptions to that when it seems to be the right choice for everyone.

Joel: Okay. Although this isn’t technically an issue of reporting, something that I always like to address: what kind of guarantees do you make about network growth?

Sue: I don’t make any guarantees because you can’t. There are no guarantees. We’re always hoping for an upward trend, that they have an increase in followers on every network each month but we actually don’t have control of that.

As an example Twitter does a big purge periodically, in fact at least twice in this past year that I know of that they’ve gone in and deleted accounts that are no longer active or that are clearly spam accounts and those are accounts that could have been following a client’s account and now all of a sudden they’re gone and so they could see a huge drop in numbers. Periodically when Twitter does that kind of a purge I usually know that’s happened and will make a note of that in the report that this month numbers did decrease because Twitter did a purge.

I don’t make any guarantees other than, and again not a guarantee, but that we are always looking for an upward trend and if we see that that doesn’t happen then is there a reason such as Twitter did a purge or is it because I’m not doing my job and I’m not being as effective as I need to be in increasing their networks.

Joel: All right.

Sue: So as far as ROI, it is very hard to have a direct ROI with social media marketing, which is one reason why we do create this report and track these numbers, because it does give us a good indication, we can see a trend; it’s not true ROI but it helps us to determine the effectiveness of what we’re doing.

Joel: How important are the numbers in the big scheme of things?

Sue: In my opinion numbers alone aren’t that important because it’s very easy for somebody to go out and buy a lot of followers which I do not recommend.

Joel: No! No one would buy followers!

Sue: People do this; I do not recommend it. I think it’s an indication again that we want to see an upward trend, we want to see that there is an increase of followers, but are they relevant? Are they people that are engaging with you on your accounts? If you have a lot of numbers and no engagement that really doesn’t mean anything.

So engagement is much more important, a little bit harder to track on some of the accounts, but fairly easy on Facebook, and that’s one place where we go in and look at a little bit more detail than we can on the other account. So for Facebook, as long as a client is using a business page, which is what we always recommend; don’t use just your personal profile because a couple of reasons: one, Facebook truly does not allow business promotion on a Facebook personal page. You can get away with it a little bit, but they really don’t want you to do that, plus you have no way to gauge what kind of reach or engagement you’re getting, whereas a business page those same rules don’t apply, and they do have insights where you can go in and track your reach, your engagement, a ton of other things. Also with ads, if you create ads on Facebook, you can track that there, and that is something we’ll help a client do if they’re using an ad tracking, with the results of that ad how many clicks for the link that they provided.

Joel: Before we get to the excitement of the phone call, is there anything else that the monthly report covers either in general or things that people have asked for custom?

Sue: On LinkedIn we not only track your connections but how many followers you have for your long articles that you publish on LinkedIn. What’s great about that is that you can have more people following you then you’re connected to. People can follow you and read your articles and not necessarily be connected to you. So those are two different numbers that we look at.

Joel: And LinkedIn has another metric that they provide.

Sue: Yes I just recently discovered this, I don’t really know how long it’s been there, but LinkedIn has what they call your SSI, it’s your social selling index, so I do track that now for a client each month. I still am not sure exactly how that all works and what the real significance of that may be, but it does give us an indication of how well you’re using LinkedIn and how LinkedIn ranks you compared to other people in your industry and in your network.

They provide this number every month, actually it’s updated daily, so you could go daily and look at it, but I only do it once a month. So you could look at this number. It also provides a couple of other numbers, one is where you stand in your network for their social selling index, and where you stand in your industry. What they’re doing is they’re measuring things like how well you’re connecting with the right people in your industry, how you’re building your brand, the kind of engagement you’re getting, so the more active you are on LinkedIn connecting with the right people, sharing their information, posting yourself, that kind of thing, then the bigger that social selling index number will be. So for effectiveness on LinkedIn I think that that’s a pretty good gauge of how well we’re doing on LinkedIn.

Another thing that we do track for some clients is if they have an email list, which I do encourage everyone to have, and they are providing me with access to this, we will track the number of subscribers they have to that email list, and part of what I do for my social media work for them is send out periodic messages on all of their networks inviting people to subscribe to that list. So hopefully we’re seeing those numbers rise as well.

Joel: Besides for the report they get, if they like, a monthly phone call. How does that work? Do you give them time to review the report before the phone call? How long is the call, what kind of things do you cover?

Sue: Yes, it is a once a month call, of course if a client needs to talk at any other time, more than happy to do that, but usually we set up this once a month call for within a few days after they get their monthly reports so they’ve had a chance to look at that.

The call is anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes depending on how much there is to talk about. We usually review that report and if they have questions about why a number looks low or some other questions we can discuss that. We might discuss what seemed to work that month and how we could continue that or what seem not to work that month and why we should drop it, new strategies that might be effective for them, and also this is a good time for me to find out from them if they have anything new going on that I can use in my social media marketing. Did they post a new article somewhere outside of their blog and not yet send me the link? Do they have an event coming up? Are they doing a workshop speaking? A book signing? Those kinds of things that I can then find out and make sure that I include that my social media marketing.

Joel: That makes me think of a report I’d love to create. This is a fantasy of course. I’d like all our clients to create a report of what they did this month. Did they write any blog posts, have they contacted other people, what are they doing? I know that the greatest thing that these authors can do, besides hiring Ausoma to do this part of the business, is to engage for themselves. A blog with regularly updated content. Guest posts, podcasts, being out there doing things gives Ausoma material to then promote. So if authors, who we assume are comfortable writing, create material beyond their book, that really helps drive their marketing, and it makes your work more effective.

Sue: Yes it does. And I have some clients that are really good at that, and others it’s like pulling teeth.

Joel: Search engines love fresh content. And the social media platforms respond better to fresh content. Some messages are worth repeating, as you said you send out a subscribe to my newsletter message on all the networks regularly, and there’s no reason to try to get really creative with that. It’s just a reminder I have a newsletter, if you’re not on it you should be. But fresh messages make a big difference after a while your followers will notice if they’re seeing the same content rehashed.

Sue: Exactly.

Joel: I am a big proponent of fresh content.

Sue: Yes.

Joel: And speaking of fresh, maybe we’ll talk about that after this call…

A free report every month included with the Pro and Dream packages, outlining growth on all of their social networks, and any other custom numbers that they give you access to create, and a phone call to discuss questions to explain any of the information, and to discuss strategies and tactics to make sure that everyone’s heading the same direction.

Sue: Yes.

Joel: That’s another service that Ausoma offers.

Well, this has been fun, as always. Thank you for joining me.

Sue: And me.

Joel: Oh I was thanking you for joining me. We’re going to thank them for joining us but I’m thanking you for joining me.

Sue: Well thank you for help doing this.

Joel: I can speak, and you seem to be able to answer direct questions okay.

So this is Joel.

Sue: And Sue.

Joel: We are Ausoma.

Sue: Author’s social media marketing.

Joel: Helping you to be social and get noticed. And we’ll do this again next month. Bye!

Sue: Bye!

And THAT’S What Makes Our Audit & Consultation Great

A few days ago I interviewed Sue about her audit and consultation process. Frankly, although I sit next to her all day every day, I’m busy creating stuff and don’t get into the technical details of her work very often.

I was surprised more than once. Don’t tell anyone, but after I found out how much work she puts in and what the client gets back, I’m going to suggest raising the price.

Here’s that interview:

Q&A: What topics should I write about on my blog?

What should I write about on my blog?Question:
I am working full-time and trying to get clients for my business. The hardest part is marketing and writing a blog.I’ve started a blog but what topics can I write about? What about marketing?

It’s got to be tough working full-time while trying to start a business. On the other hand, that gives you an income you can count on while you work on building your business.

Since you have such a busy schedule, it’s important to make an appointment with yourself to make time to work on your business, write blog posts and market. Then keep your appointment as though you were meeting with a new client!

Here are some suggestions from the Action Guide, Building Blocks: Succeed as a Chief Virtual Officer:

  • Write a “how-to” article or a “ten tips” article
  • Answer questions you get from prospects and clients as a blog post (much like this one)
  • Invite prospects to write guest blog posts.
  • Write about a client’s success
  • Post a list of relevant links with a short comment on why you found each valuable
  • Share a recent experience you had

It’s very helpful as part of your marketing strategy to also visit other blogs and post comments there that will link back to your own blog.

More tips on blogging and marketing can be found in the Action Guide, Building Blocks: Succeed as a Chief Virtual Officer.

What topics do you write about on your blog?

Q&A: What kind of investment should I expect to make to be a successful Virtual Assistant in 6 months?

What kind of investment should I expect to make to be a successful Virtual Assistant in 6 months?Question:

What kind of investment should I expect to make to be a successful VA in 6 months? I know it is important to get business cards, get a domain, create a website, join online industry organizations and memberships. But what are the other considerable costs one should make?

I think the answer to this question is a bit subjective. First you need to define what success means to you. Some only want to work part-time while others hope to make it a full-time business and earn six figures.

More important than a monetary investment is the investment in your time and energy. Before we get into that though I will cover some basics you need.

In my book, The Commonsense Virtual Assistant – Becoming an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee , the introduction lists some skills and tools you’ll need such as:

  • Business Plan
  • License
  • Contract
  • Reliable computer
  • Internet access
  • Phone service
  • Time tracking tool
  • Project management tool

There are other investments you can make to get training and certification. These are not necessary. If you do choose some training or classes to get certified, make sure to check them out thoroughly so you are getting the value you need for the investment you make.

Now to the important investments: your time and energy. Your success will depend largely on the time and energy you are willing to spend to build your business. The number one investment in your time and energy should be to attend in-person networking events. I’ve written numerous times  about how important it is to do this if you intend to build trusting relationships with prospects and clients and gain referrals. The Commonsense Virtual Assistant book has an entire chapter dedicated to marketing and specifically covers networking.

So the real question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I willing to attend four networking events every month for the next six months and build relationships?” When I was growing my business I attended a different networking event every week of the month and did that consistently for six months. By the end of that time I had built trusting relationships with people who I was able to refer work to. That in turn led to my gaining new clients and referrals.

Let’s ask other successful virtual assistants: what did you do to succeed?


Q&A: How Can I Market My Business?

How Can I Market My Business?Marketing a business is a huge topic. Today we will address a specific concern one virtual assistant has.

I ran a VA business from 2007-2009. As much as I loved it, I found that I was having to spend a large percentage of my time marketing my business. I would like to start up again, but what alternatives should I consider besides doing my own marketing?

To give the best answer, I first asked some additional questions.

  • What percentage of time did you use to market your business?
  • What marketing strategies did you use?
  • Would you be open to having someone else do your marketing and if so, how would you envision that?

The virtual assistant stated she spent at least 50% of her time marketing her business. Now that may seem like a lot. However, I did a bit of research and found several entrepreneurs who encourage spending at least 60% of your time marketing. I do know that if I’m working 20 hours a week for clients, I’m spending an additional 10 hours or so marketing my business. So the amount of time seems right.

What we sometimes forget is that we are entrepreneurs and business owners. That means usually we are the one person doing it all: sales, marketing, client work, administrative work. And that takes time. If we don’t want to spend the time doing the marketing, we have two choices:

  1. Hire someone as our marketing person
  2. Find a J.O.B. – because a business owner must market their services and products in order to succeed

Some marketing strategies that are very effective are in-person events such as SBA events, BNI meetings, professional associations. Then there’s online marketing: a blog, social networking sites, ezines, press releases. Yes, these all take time. That’s why it’s important to put together a simple marketing plan and calendar and schedule these events and actions. Our Action Guide has a sample marketing plan and calendar with details on how to put them into action.  Having a plan helps you make sure you’re using strategies that are most effective and less-time consuming than just haphazardly posting something on a social network every day.

Joining local small business groups and attending monthly mixers are effective marketing strategies. Get to know the people, what their needs are, how you can refer them to others. It’s important to build relationships with these people before you ever try to “sell” them your services. There’s a whole section in our book, The Commonsense Virtual Assistant – Becoming an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee, that has lots of great information on marketing. You can purchase a copy on the website.

The Commonsense Virtual Assistant
The Commonsense Virtual Assistant

I believe doing your own marketing is most effective. However, hiring someone to market your services for you is also a viable option. After all, isn’t that what many of our clients hire us to do for them? You can hire someone to help promote your services – online, via mailings, follow-up phone calls, and even by attending in-person events.

Another great marketing strategy is article writing. It establishes you as an expert and always links back to your website. Check out my articles at Ezine Articles.

You can read more about proactive marketing at another blog post of mine.

I’d love to hear your comments!