Social media is the place to be when it comes to getting the word out about your products or services.
But despite its tremendous popularity, professionals know that social media can be a real time-drain. Not to mention, it’s a brain-drain as well. You know how it goes, you sign on, planning to post a few business updates, and next thing you know, you’re off looking at photos or browsing news articles.
According to one survey by Vertical Response, 43% of small businesses are spending at least 6 hours per week on social media. The rest, are spending a lot more –with some even clocking up more than 21 hours a week!
But while social media can be tremendously time-consuming, it’s also incredibly important. Because it’s an excellent way to boost your public profile, and generate interest for new products, launches, sales, and more –it’s important to have social media as part of your marketing strategy.
One solution, and something that’s becoming incredibly popular with many time-crunched business owners today –is hiring a virtual assistant (VA) to take on the task of social media management.
Outsourcing social media management may seem like a risky concept, but the truth is that when done right, outsourcing this job to a professional can prove to be a great solution! Not only does it free you up from the work of posting on social media yourself, it also means that you’ll be able to rest assured knowing that the work is being done –and to a high standard. By outsourcing, you’ll have more time to focus on more pressing issues, or critical areas of your business.
If you’re toying with the idea of outsourcing your social media work to a VA, here’s a look at a few tips for success.
Tips for Outsourcing Successfully
Like I said, outsourcing social media management can be great, as long as it’s done right. But you’ll want to take some time to establish some groundwork up front before you dive into the recruitment process.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
• Establish Clear Objectives
Too many businesses rush out and hire a VA without first taking the time to think about the reasons behind what they’re doing. Start by asking yourself what your main objective is with social media. Is it to grow your customer base? Build a community of satisfied customers?
Generate brand awareness? Connect with influencers in your space? Whatever your goals are, make sure they’re an extension of your big-picture business objectives. Taking this approach will allow you to work to ensure that your social media efforts aren’t wasted, by allowing you to deploy strategies that will get the results you’re after. You’ll also be able to articulate your objectives to your VA, so they’re clear on your expectations as well.
• Define Your Target Audience
You can’t outsource effectively if you’re not clear on who you’re targeting with your social media strategy. Your best option is to take the time to ensure you’re clear on who you’re trying to reach. Sometimes your target may be wider than others –but generally, you’ll want to be as specific as possible when narrowing down your target audience. Having a clearly defined audience will help you to get the most out of your social media efforts. It will also help you to determine which social media platforms you should be using –Instagram? Facebook? Twitter? You’ll want to go where your audience is! Information about your target audience will also help to ensure that the process of outsourcing is more successful as well.
• Create a Social Media Plan
Next, you’ll want to create a plan! This is true whether it’s you who will be doing the work, or your VA. In both cases, you’ll be investing either time or money into social media, so you’ll want to see a return for your efforts. In addition to making sure you’re focusing on the right platforms, you’ll also want to create a plan for day-to-day social media management tasks, bearing in mind that in many ways, you’ll get out of social media what you’re able to put into it. So make sure you have a plan for posting content that will help you to reach your goals –and a strategy that you can give to your VA –with a process they can follow. Take a look at this Daily Social Media Game Plan from Hubspot or this Social Media Checklist from Sprout Social. Of course, you may want to create your own plan, that’s more in line with your own big-picture goals. But looking at what’s out there can help to get you started.
• Confirm Which Products or Services You’ll be Promoting
You’ll also want to clarify what products and services you’re planning to promote. Make a list of some key products that you can highlight –and pass it on to your VA –so they know what to promote online. This is also something that can change seasonally. When you’re running specials and promotions, for example, you’ll want to make sure these make it into your social media strategy as well.
• Define Your Business’ Voice Make sure you’re clear on your business’ voice as well. Are you friendly and approachable?
Professional? Polite and helpful? Relatable? Conscientious? Fun? Choose a persona that fits well with your brand, something your audience can connect with. Having a voice will allow your VA to post consistent content –that fits well with your overall brand.
• Identify Subjects to Avoid
If there are any subjects or discussions that you’d like to avoid on social media, now is the time to jot them down. You’ll also want to clarify which interactions should be brought to your attention. For example, an unhappy customer posting about you on Facebook is one case that should be escalated.
• Be Involved
As with anything, there will be a learning curve when it comes to enlisting your VA. So don’t just drop off the edge of the earth once you have hired someone. Instead, be available to answer questions and give feedback in the beginning. Soon they’ll be on board and able to do the work –with minimal assistance.
• Establish Metrics for Success
You’ll also want to establish metrics for success with your VA. Gauge where you’re at with your social media efforts, and set targets. What metrics could you use to get a clear idea of your VA’s progress? You’ll want to look at both signs of broad growth –like increased followers and more likes; and increased engagement –like more comments. Ideally, you and your VA should work together to determine which metrics and key performance indicators you will track.
Get the Right Tools
From streamlining communication to sharing documents and files, the right tools can make short work of outsourcing. In fact, the wealth of apps and platforms available today has helped to make outsourcing to a virtual assistant –possible. No longer do you need to find someone to work on-site with you!
Here’s a look at a few tools that can help to make the outsourcing process fast and simple.
• LastPass (Or other password manager)
At some point, you’ll need to give your VA access to your social media accounts. This includes passwords. Consider sharing them with your staff using LastPass or another password manager. With a password manager, instead of showing your VA what the password is, you can send them a virtual key, allowing them to access your accounts. This article explains it well.
• Hootsuite (Social media dashboard)
No social media strategy is complete without Hootsuite –or your social media dashboard of choice. Having a dashboard like Hootsuite can simplify the work of posting on social media, allowing you to schedule posts to go out throughout the week at opportune times. Hootsuite’s free option currently allows you to connect up to three social media accounts. If you upgrade, though, you’ll be able to add more.
• Trello (Project management tool)
Next, you’ll need a project management tool. Trello is one such option, and is a great tool for keeping everyone on the same page. It also reduces the need for constant emails back and forth.
• Google Drive (File storage and sharing)
Google Drive is another handy tool. With Drive, you can share documents –including your processes, content, and more –with your VA. Just upload, and send a link. It’s fast and easy, and you can access your documents from anywhere.
• Skype (Video calls)
Finally, you’ll want a free tool like Skype to allow you and your VA to hold meetings.
Outsourcing can seem risky –especially if you’re used to doing it all yourself. But it’s important to remember that outsourcing is a vital part of scaling your operations. No one person can do everything, by freeing up the areas that you find most time-consuming, you’ll be able to claim back your week –and focus your efforts on other things!
Are you thinking of outsourcing your social media management? How many hours per month could you save?