Social media matters.  In fact, recently, social networking has overtaken porn as the number one activity online! It’s more important than ever that small businesses looking to stay ahead of the competition have active, dynamic social media presences built upon targeted social media marketing strategies.

This idea sounds solid in theory, but, when it comes down to the operational level, it’s accompanied by a notable setback. Small businesses are small businesses. Generally, they’re run by a single entrepreneur.  According to the Small Business Administration, three quarters of small businesses are non-employers, or have just a handful of team members to provide support. For small businesses, every endeavor must be weighed upon necessity; if a team is just big enough to handle the critical tasks and strategic priorities, it can be hard to add another, especially something like a social media strategy.

While social networks are important tools for small businesses to succeed – allowing brands to engage, share and connect with target demographics while providing real value and trusted information – they require consistency and daily effort. Faced with this dilemma? It may be time to stop doing social media yourself and trust someone else to take your social media marketing campaign to the next level. One way to do this is to use a virtual assistant that specializes in social media.  Here’s some advice for getting started.

Start with One or Two Networks

Share your target demographic and have your virtual assistant research where this group spends most of their online time. In many cases,  Facebook and Twitter are a solid starting point, but in other situations Pinterest or even LinkedIn may be viable options.

By taking the time to start with a few networks while growing a following, you’ll increase credibility and focus simultaneously.

Create a Content Plan

Social media success depends on consistency. The best way to achieve it? Targeted, relevant, regular content. Let you virtual assistant know what information your customers and potential customers are looking for and what topics are most relevant to them. From there, your assistant can work with you to create a plan for posting articles and content on a regular basis. A tool like Hootsuite will allow your virtual assistant to schedule posts, and for you to review them if needed. Be sure to specify the time frame you have in mind and the specifications you have for each post. By being clear from the start, you’re less likely to have to get involved down the road, leaving you free to focus on other areas of business management.

Monitor, Monitor, Monitor

Like any marketing plan, a successful social media strategy requires regular monitoring. Ask your virtual assistant to share reports on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. These reports can be generated from the administrator tools on each network.

Look at which posts have been most successful and which efforts have fallen flat. Take a look at what content has been shared and the replies that have been generated. Look at the numbers, but ask your assistant to focus more on engagement levels than how many followers you have or how many people “like” your business page. Keep the lines of communication open with your virtual assistant at all times to modify your social media plan while making it as successful as possible.

Put Time Into Research

Encourage your virtual assistant to follow other brands – established social media giants and small business competitors. By taking a look at what other companies have done to grow their followings and presences, you’ll have a better idea of where to take your own strategy, as well as giving you ideas for how to differentiate yourself. Create posts with similar information but with a unique slant that makes the information more relevant to your audience. Tools like Social Crawlytics and SEMRush make researching competitors simple, straightforward and rewarding. Little Bird is a great tool for identifying key influencers in your market that you should follow.

There is no question that social media is a necessity for any small business looking to take their marketing to the next level. But, it doesn’t have to become a distraction. By working with an experienced, trusted virtual assistant while providing targeted direction, you can increase your social media presence without taking time away from other, critical operations.