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Using Virtual Assistants to Scale Your Social Media If managing your social media accounts seems daunting, find someone to do it for you.

By Josh Steimle Edited by Heather Wilkerson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

LinkedIn has evolved a lot over the years, and today with more than 700 million users, it is the top social media platform for professionals.

But most people aren't using it anywhere near as effectively or efficiently as they could be. That's a shame, too, because I know firsthand the positive impact it can create when used properly. I've used LinkedIn to hire employees, discover business partnerships and land deals. And I want to help you get more out of your efforts on the platform.

I'm putting the finishing touches on my book dedicated to mastering LinkedIn and wanted to share some insight on how to leverage virtual assistants so you can focus on the high-level activities that only you can do and take the lower-level tasks completely off of your plate.

This is critical because it allows you to make the most of your valuable time while still getting phenomenal results on LinkedIn.

Related: Hiring Virtual Assistants is the 'New Normal'

Start with your strategy

Your strategy includes branding and positioning, messaging style, your target audience and how you develop and nurture relationships.

The most important question you need to answer at this point is this, why are you doing this? What's the point of even being on LinkedIn?

Once you know that, you'll be able to craft a plan and map out the details. From there, you can decide what parts of your LinkedIn efforts you want to handle yourself and which you want to hand off to a virtual assistant to make the most of your time.

Process is critical

A lot of people like to wing it with social media. That can work when you're handling every aspect of it yourself, but that's not a good use of your time. On the flip side, you can't simply hand it off to an assistant and say, "take care of LinkedIn for me."

Without a documented process, a checklist of tasks and an explanation of your strategy, handing even just certain parts of your LinkedIn marketing off to a virtual assistant is bound to fail.

But it doesn't have to.

I've taken both approaches — from handling every aspect of LinkedIn myself to turning a majority of it over to virtual assistants. What I've found was that while virtual assistants saved me a lot of time, I had to lay out a detailed roadmap for them first.

Robert Nickell, the founder of the 800+ person virtual assistant agency Rocket Station, explains why that's essential. "You can't give a task to someone who doesn't have your experience and expect them to do it the same way you would unless you lay out the exact process for them to follow," Nickell says.

It's too easy to assume anyone you assign to take care of your social media will just get it, but that's unrealistic. Nickell continues, "There are so many pieces of knowledge in your head that you take for granted, so you often won't even realize how much the average person doesn't know about how to do what you do."

Nickell's company takes the same approach I do. They document the process for their clients. In my case, I record my screen as I work through a task and I explain what I'm doing and why. Nickell's company hops on a screen share and watches the client perform every single step. "We'll even have them explain their thinking out loud throughout the process so we can understand exactly how and why they do the things they do," he says.

When you document your process to this level, you're enabling your virtual assistants to consistently perform the tasks you give them at the standards you expect.

Related: Why Most Entrepreneurs Aren't Delegating Effectively

Optimize your profile

A lot of people overlook this critical aspect of their LinkedIn marketing efforts because it's more exciting to focus on creating content and engaging with people. This hurts them more than they realize.

Think of your profile like you would your first meeting with a prospect. That first impression is critical, so you need to get it right. Your profile needs to be complete and engaging, but it also needs to be updated regularly.

The initial optimization should probably be handled by you or someone who specializes in LinkedIn profile optimization, but the ongoing updates are a perfect task to hand off to a virtual assistant — provided you have a process for that.

Some of these updates include:

  • Updating your contact info
  • Updating your bio
  • Updating your profile photo and banner
  • Adding new skills
  • Updating/adding featured items (LinkedIn allows you to feature posts, articles, links, and media)
  • Adding accomplishments (LinkedIn allows you to publish publications, patents, awards, and other things in a special section of your profile)

Nickell explains that a good way to hand this lower-level work off to a virtual assistant is to outline the exact steps they're to follow, and then assign the tasks through a project management system like Teamwork, Monday or Basecamp to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Posting your content

You may want to maintain control of creating your content, but you don't need to actually post it — anyone can do that.

Because it's significantly more effective to write your posts in batches, you can get ahead by creating up to a month's worth of posts at a time and then have your virtual assistant post them on LinkedIn for you.

There are some good scheduling tools out there, but I prefer to have a human do the posting. If your virtual assistant manually logs into LinkedIn and posts your content natively, you won't run afoul of any detection mechanisms LinkedIn puts in place to devalue content posted through a tool, and if there happens to be an error of some kind, your assistant will see it immediately and can fix it before it makes a bad impression.

Related: Ignoring These 4 Marketing Trends Could Cost You in the Long Run

Engagement has risks

You may opt to have your virtual assistant handle some or even all of your engagement, like responding to comments and DMs. This can work, but you need to approach it with caution because anything they say as you will be perceived as being directly from you. If they mess up and say the wrong thing, or worse yet, say something offensive, the results could be disastrous.

I like to be heavily involved in my own engagement, but I do let my virtual assistants handle some of it. For example, if someone sends me a DM asking about a free guide I offered on a podcast, I might have my assistant reply and send it to them. I don't need to be personally involved in that conversation. But if someone sends a DM asking about a joint venture opportunity, that's something I'd prefer to handle myself. One of the most valuable things your virtual assistant can do for you is delete those annoying spam messages from people you don't know offering you irrelevant services.

Nickell says, "The key in cases like this is to start small with very specific rules on what kind of comments and DMs your virtual assistants should reply to. As they prove that they can handle that, move on to more complex situations."

He says it's also important to have a list of people you specifically don't want your virtual assistants to engage with, which could include close friends or people you regularly do business with. This is important because there will be nuances to these relationships and how you communicate with them that an outsider will probably never be able to replicate.

These are just a few small ways you can improve your LinkedIn results by using a virtual assistant to take care of easier tasks. Have you had any experience, good or bad, using a virtual assistant to manage your LinkedIn profile? I'd love to hear about it. Connect with me through LinkedIn.

Josh Steimle

Speaker, writer and entrepreneur

Josh Steimle is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of "60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery" and the host of "The Published Author Podcast," which teaches entrepreneurs how to write books they can leverage to grow their businesses.

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