In today’s social media age we’re often told that the Internet is a powerful medium for building brands, both personal and corporate, but what if you don’t have time to dedicate to social media?

That’s exactly the challenge that Singapore-based entrepreneur Jon Yongfook is setting out to solve with his new service Beatrix, a virtual social media assistant that handles Facebook and Twitter on behalf of personal or company accounts.

Social media scheduling services are popular for allowing corporates and individuals to set up constant streams of updates to Facebook and Twitter with ease — Buffer, for example, has over 800,000 registered users. Building on the premise of Buffer — which auto-publishes updates to pre-scheduled time blocks — Beatrix sources and publishes updates without you needing to lift a finger.

Upon logging in, users select the topics that are of interest to them. I counted more than 90 topics, across 12 broad categories: Arts, Business, Entertainment, Fashion, Food, Health, Hobbies, Internet, Science, Sports, Technology and Travel.

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The process is very simple. Within two minutes, I had a week’s worth of social media updates scheduled and ready to roll.

If you see an update that you don’t like, you can easily remove it from the schedule by clicking the big cross next to it. Likewise, you can pause the schedule at any point.

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Beatrix automatically sets three time slots per day at which to publish each update, but this can be changed to suit your schedule or taste.

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It is also possible to check in with Beatrix via email. Initially there are just two automated commands, but an email asking ‘What’s my content plan’ triggers a new mail providing the latest version of the schedule.

You can’t yet edit the content plan via email, but that is a development that is planned for the future once it is clear how people use it, Yongfook says. (The other email trigger, in case you are wondering, is a bit of fun: ‘Send me an interesting fact’.)

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Beatrix is priced upwards of $29 per month for a single assistant. The mid-range plan of five assistants (which could cover different internals teams and/or social media accounts) comes in at $49 per month, while the ‘enterprise’ plan covers 30 assistants for $279 per month.

Personally speaking, I will always pick out my own links and stories that I share on social channels. Further, I noticed that some of the stories in my schedule were a week old (or longer), but clearly journalists aren’t the target of the service since keeping up with news is exactly what we do.

I find the concept behind Beatrix to be interesting and Yongfook, who runs app promotion service Pitchpigeon among other things, is certainly on to something.

Speaking as someone who has held marketing and social media positions in the past, hunting down and automating content is time-consuming and not easy, so a virtual assistant appeals so long as the content fits tightly enough with the image a company would want to promote.

But, and there is a but here, it doesn’t fully replace (but it could complement) the existing process or a social media consultant, who does way more than just schedule and publish tweets and Facebook updates.

There is also some human selection element to Beatrix. Yongfook says that the service picks links from sites like Pinterest, Delicious, Reddit, Stumbleupon, after which a team of real-life social media interns discard the less interesting links to form the pool of content to pick from. That’s a process that he says will ramp up in the coming months to enlarge the database 10X.

Yongfook adds that there will be other developments to come:

The core value proposition is helping people create quality social content in a frictionless way. So the major upcoming features will all be centered around social content creation. For example, I think it would be awesome if Beatrix could ping me when there’s a hashtag trending that’s relevant to my business — and suggest to me some ways I could use it.

In short, Beatrix doesn’t replace a social media director or consultant, but it certainly has the potential to cover the more basic, intern-like tasks to get you going on building your brand.

The question is whether you’ll pay for that — Yongfook and Beatrix are betting that you will.

➤ Beatrix

More details: I Love My Assistant [Yongfook.com]

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Headline image via Thinkstock