When it comes to social media, you might think you can offload the overwhelm by just hiring someone to do the dirty work. Why should you get your hands all messy, right? Just hire a VA (or your daughter’s BFF) to do a few posts a week for you, right?

Not so fast.

Too often, a business owner will tell me that social media doesn’t work for her or for her business. When I probe a little deeper, it often turns out that she didn’t really want to deal with social media and had hired a virtual assistant to do it, or some social media team that promised outrageous results. (Or her daughter’s BFF, no kidding.)

Lots of money spent. Very little return returned.

Consider the following building blocks that will make it possible for you to off-load some of this someday – but not until you get it. In other words, this isn’t something you can just avoid and hope it all works out. (Nothing is, but that’s a different article for another time.)

 1 – Know Your Strategy

The word “strategy” itself can conjure up images of flow charts and spreadsheets – and suddenly you’re glazed over, dreaming of dark chocolate… and of getting someone else to do your social media.

But strategy is simply vision. It’s an over-arching plan that gives you guidelines for who you are, how you are and what you do on social media. Otherwise, you’ll just end up randomly posting photos of you and your dark chocolate without any real reason why.

(You know these random posts are lame. And that makes you dislike social media even more.)

Creating a strategy means giving yourself guidelines:

Here are exactly the kinds of things I post about. Here’s my over-arching message. Here’s how I say what I say. Spend some time thinking about this, and it begins to be a lesson in business awareness.

Then, when you do hire someone, you can guide them to be a better representative for your business, or your brand.

2 – Know Your Platforms

Lots of social media guru types will urge “ubiquity.” That means they want you (or your business) to post on every social media platform every day.

While this may be a strategy that Coke can afford to do, a solo business owner will quite simply lose her shit if she tries this tack. She will end up using a service like HootSuite – and then blasting each post to every social media platform. (After all, who has the time for ubiquity?)

Don’t do this, okay? It’s a total waste.

Each platform has users (also known as human beings) – and each platform has a culture (unspoken rules for sharing, posting, etc). So, what works on Facebook, doesn’t always work on Twitter, or LinkedIn. The good news is that you can choose one (or two or even three) platforms based on where your ideal client hangs out the most – and you can learn that platform, its culture, lingo, and unspoken rules. Then you can do that platform really really well. And guess what? Your business will grow because you’re doing it right, not because you’re spreading yourself thin.

And once you get good at the platforms you choose, you are able to work with your social media hire, and help that person take up where you left off. And if he/she has ideas for expanding to other platforms, then you will be able to contribute to the conversation, not just get mowed over by another so-called “expert.”

3 – Make a Schedule

Some of my colleagues are on social all the time. If they’re in line at the grocery store, they check Twitter. If they’re at a stoplight, they hit Facebook. They comment, they post, they interact. And it works because that’s their style!

No matter your style, it will help you if you lay out a posting schedule, as well as a plan for how you interact and when in the day you drop in. Random only works if you are really excited to be on social and you always remember to use your breaks in the day as times to show up and be social.

social media

4 – Have a List

Each social media platform is just that. A platform. It’s theirs. Not yours.

With that said, you need your own platform. It’s called your LIST. This is where people can sign up to get your eZine, your message, your offer. In other words, just because you have 10,000 Facebook friends doesn’t mean you have 10,000 people on your list.

I started building my list from my few hundred music fans way back when. Now, Uplevel You has a list of 55,000 people. That’s a good platform. We still use Facebook and Twitter. And all of our social media work brings more and more people to our website and our list.

Having a list also means that when you hire someone to help with your social media, you can now measure returns by watching your list and your client-base grow.

5 – Define Your Results

So you hired someone to do your social media, and you didn’t get a return on your investment. How do you know? What were the parameters? How do you get clients using social media? Do you know? Or were you just frustrated and impatient because customers weren’t beating down your door after a month?

Many times, the problem is not the person you hired. The problem is that you don’t know what it looks like to build your business using social media. You don’t know how a relationship turns into a client. And you grow impatient when it takes more time than you think it should.

So before you hire someone, define the results you want. And understand the bigger picture of your business model and how these online relationships can turn into customers and clients. This is how your social media person can use metrics and insights to keep you in touch with the results of your social media efforts.