I Love My Assistant
August 19, 2013
Sigh. This tale of corporate romance is one that I have been able to keep quiet for many months. However as people close to me begin to find out about my secret, I feel that rather than this eventually leaking beyond my control, I'll take charge of my destiny and tell you the story myself...
I manage social media for a few friends businesses as well as social media for some of my SaaS apps (i.e. "product" social accounts) - and of course my personal social media accounts. It's a lot of stuff to keep track of. And often a week goes by and I'll think "oh crap I didn't post anything this week for X account". Not good. I needed an assistant.
Social Media Assistant
After struggling with this for a while, one day Beatrix came to me. Immediately I knew she was going to be a huge help. There was an instant chemistry and within a few days, we were spending every day together.
And for the last month, we've been on a trip together, shut ourselves off from everyone except our clients and focused almost entirely on each other. Waking up together, going to sleep together. I know right, how icky.
All the qualities that make Beatrix an awesome social media assistant are the same reasons I love her...
- she's smart
- she's super punctual (I have a thing about that)
- she's great to work with
And much more. Let me introduce you to her.
Beatrix is my company's new virtual assistant software product, and I should point out that the love I have for her is a platonic, respectful love because she helps me and our early customers solve a problem in an elegant way :)
Here she is:
I began this project in a typical Lean Startup fashion.
I had an idea for a new kind of social media analytics tool for small businesses. It was a competitive benchmarking analytics tool - something that showed you how you were faring against your close competitors, in order to keep yourself informed and/or learn from their successes. So I created some mockups and got talking to potential customers.
With the Lean approach you're always on the lookout for the "oh god I need that NOW" reaction. You don't build a product off an "oh that's kinda neat" reaction - but that's all I was getting. Customers vaguely liked the idea but it was a nice-to-have not a NEED.
The Eureka Moment
It turns out that every small businesses / startup I talked to had little use for a small business social media analytics tool because they were creating only tiny amounts of social media content in the first place - despite wanting to be "better at" social media. It was like trying to sell a car to people who didn't drive. What you need to sell those people are driving lessons. Or a driver. I realized (as I mentioned right at the start) that I had this exact same problem too.
Then I had my eureka moment.
Previously I was director of social media at a well-known global ad agency. At the agency we had interns / associates who created weekly plans for all our social accounts specifying what we would post each day, which would then get approved and be scheduled for posting. If you're a medium-size business with a social media manager, you probably do something similar to this too. It's the only way to ensure you post consistently amongst the chaos of running your actual business - plan your content out a week or more at a time.
Sidenote: a good business social media strategy has this foundation of planning. But on top of that you layer in more ad-hoc / contextual stuff as-and-when. The best social accounts are multi-layered like that.
What's the solution for a small business or solo entrepreneur for whom hiring a full-time social media manager or ad agency is out of the question?
Answer: there is none. We just try to "do it ourselves" and end up with zombie social media accounts with a faint trickle of content. This is not how to build an audience.
I started proposing the new solution to customers.
Me: What if I could create you a "virtual intern" who would help you create twitter and facebook content throughout the week? You'd define keywords and the intern would go out and create a content plan which you'd get to approve. Cheaper and faster than a real intern.
Customer: woah... you can do that? Yes. YES. I need that right now!
And immediately, the idea became bigger. Customers started asking "what if my intern could do this..." and "what if she had ____ feature..." - the virtual intern had taken on a life of her own.
Here's how Beatrix works. Sign Up Free and choose some keywords. Beatrix then generates a week of social content for you. It's that simple. You can tweak the plan if you want - delete the stuff you don't like and keep the stuff you do like - Beatrix will then adjust the plan accordingly. It's really quite like having an assistant. Beatrix then does 3 things:
- Posts the content according to a schedule (which is completely user-customizable)
- Creates a new content plan every week and emails it to you for your approval, just like a real assistant
- In the background, she gathers data on what your users are responding to and what you are removing from the content plans, in order to become smarter about what to post in the future.
Here's what she looks like:
Here we've chosen wine, cheese and pizza as if we are creating an assistant for a pizza shop.
Connect Social Accounts
Beatrix uses standard oAuth integration to integrate your social accounts in just a few clicks.
Generating Content Plan
Based on your keywords, Beatrix puts together a queue of posts related to your keywords.
That's it! Your content plan is created - you can now review it. If you delete a post from the queue Beatrix automatically adds a new one to the bottom. The queue for our pizza restaurant has links about stinky cheese, chinese wine, and how corks are made - interesting stuff!
Beatrix then posts the content in your queue according to a daily schedule. You can change this schedule any time you want, but the default is to post at 10am, 2pm and 5pm in your local timezone every day.
Sounds good? Want to try Beatrix now?
The Core Value Proposition
The problem we want to solve with Beatrix is how to create awesome social content in a frictionless way. We want social accounts powered by Beatrix plus a human boss to outperform social accounts managed by just a person. We've started with the obvious: curating interesting relevant links from around the web and putting them into a queue for you. But there's so much more that we have in store for Beatrix.
The Beatrix of the future should...
- know when a relevant hashtag is trending, and tell me about it - and ideally give me suggestions on how I can use it
- know when relevant national holidays are coming up, and give me ideas for social content
- remind me to post some ad-hoc content; have we hired anyone new, what did the team eat for lunch, what are we working on... what music are we listening to at the office (?) anything goes really!
...and that's just three of the ideas we have on the roadmap ;)
Beatrix is about content. We're not an analytics tool, we're not a scheduling tool - Beatrix is a social assistant whose job is to make your social accounts come alive.
If you're currently working on an MVP or a software product here's some lessons that I learned during this process.
- Get out of the building and talk to customers
- Tweak your value prop until you get the "I need this now!" response
- Give this process time. I had been experimenting with various MVPs for many months before the eureka moment.
- It's not possible with every product, but it's been extremely helpful to be able to psychologically anchor this product to a real-world job. It gives customers an idea of what to expect (and what to pay).
Thanks and I hope you enjoy using Beatrix!