The SVA Guide to Using Virtual Assistant Facebook Groups
Over the last few years, a lot of Virtual Assistant Facebook groups have been set up with the intention of offering peer-to-peer support and advice to VAs. And whilst they can be immensely helpful, there are also some serious pitfalls of joining the wrong group. The SVA has had quite a few complaints from members in recent months after having been given incorrect or misleading advice on Facebook Groups, so before you join one and begin asking questions, here are some top tips to help you find the right ones to join.
- Is it UK based?
This may sound a bit odd because the internet is worldwide, as is the virtual assistant industry, but our UK trading laws are very different from other countries. So, whilst joining virtual assistant groups that are admin-ed from other countries can be great for collaboration purposes, never take advice on them about business model set-up, contracts, tax, insurance, data protection, MLR…... The list goes on.
- Who Admins and moderates the group?
Do the admins and moderators understand the VA industry? It is so important that they do because if they do not, they cannot correct or moderate incorrect and misleading content. This can have dire consequences (nope, I'm not exaggerating here). It is something that the SVA has received complaints about of late; one instance was on the subject of a legal requirement that the new VA posting was asking about. The issue came when a comment was made, albeit by another group member who had no ill-intent, but they were not an expert, and the comment was incorrect. The comment was not removed as the moderators did not understand it themselves. In addition, the VA giving the advice on this had been in business for no more than one year.
Thankfully the new VA who had asked the question contacted us to double-check, and we were able to correct that misleading advice.
We live in 'the age of the expert' at the moment, with people giving their advice, no matter how much they know on the subject or how much experience they have. Had this 'helpful’ advice been followed, the new VA would have been breaking the law, and the fine would have been life-changing, and not in a good way!
You can check who admins or moderates a group by looking in the Members section, and I recommend you treat it like you are looking for a trainer - look at who manages it and ask yourself what experience have they had in the VA industry. How many years have they been a VA? Why are they running this group? Try and do some research.
Equally, if you are a member of a Virtual Assistant Facebook group, do not give advice unless you really understand the subject area and have the experience to back it up. Answering a question incorrectly but with a tone of expertise is incredibly convincing, and we see this a lot (not just in VA groups, but on the internet in general).
If you are unsure of the answer but know someone who can help, please feel free to tag that expert. If not, just don't answer. If you know the answer and can help, give advice and also try and back it up with some information that the initial poster can refer back to (but do ensure it's from a credible source).
Please also be aware that if you give bad advice, your insurance may not cover you, unless you are insured to train or coach other VAs.
- Is the group private?
If you intend to use the VA Facebook group to ask questions about growing your business or discussing what is happening in your business, make sure it is a private group and that only VAs can join (and that this is moderated in some way).
The last thing you want is to discuss a client situation, and they end up seeing what you have written. Many good virtual assistant groups are private and operate based on some kind of criteria and ask you to respond to questions before you can join, this enables it to be a safe place to ask questions.
- Group rules
All good Facebook groups have rules in place for your own protection and the moderators. For example, to respect other members, to keep content relevant to the industry, etc.
It goes without saying that you should follow the rules in that group because it makes it a nice experience for everyone in there, but there always seems to be a heated discussion when someone posts something that someone else disagrees with. A flare-up in a group recently occurred because the poster had put something that offended someone. The offended person pointed out to the rest of the group that this was wrong, and off it went.
If you don't agree with something, report the post or comment that you disagree with to the admins or moderators, they can then check that it breaks the rules, but please don't call it out for all to see in the group because you may not be right either (in this instance the person offended was in the wrong and ended up looking a bit silly). But if the moderators and admins are worth their salt, they will check the content to see if it is incorrect, misleading or breaching the rules and take action accordingly.
- Get collaborating
To get the most out of a Virtual Assistant Facebook group, don't just lurk; try and collaborate, start conversations, comment on conversations and get involved.
- Don't be anonymous
Another top tip is to not to post anonymously because it doesn't allow you to build on that collaboration. If you've done your research and it's a good group, you will not be judged or berated for asking questions. I always tell our members, "No question is too silly or small because we all started somewhere, and you only know what you know."
Virtual Assistant Facebook groups can be really helpful and are a great way to get to know other VAs in the industry, share your experiences and ask questions, but do check them out before you dive in and always ensure you fact-check answers, particularly if the question is of a legal nature.
If you are ever unsure about advice you have been given in a Facebook group, please do feel free to ask us at the SVA because it is better to be safe than sorry, and if we don't know the answer to something, we will find you someone who does.