How to Start a Social Media Marketing Agency Step by Step
- The first step in starting a social media marketing agency is to identify your niche and target audience.
- Building a strong brand and online presence is crucial for attracting clients and demonstrating your expertise.
- To successfully scale your agency, it’s important to develop a strategic growth plan and establish effective communication and project management systems.
Freelancing as a social media expert can get tiresome. If you’ve got social media marketing experience and you’re thinking about starting your own agency, then look no further. Learn how to start a social media marketing agency with this easy-to-follow guide.
Most business owners don’t know the intricacies of social media platforms, but they do know their businesses should be embracing them with a social media presence. There is a large market of potential clients out there looking for help, and you can be the one to answer their call.
It can be nerve-wracking to step out on your own and start a small business. With your experience and a clear business plan in place, starting a social media agency should be nothing you have to fear.
Determine your value proposition
The first step to starting a business is to determine your value proposition: what makes you different from all the other agencies out there? What’s your niche?
There are two ways to position your agency.
1. Target specific business types
Have you had success with your social media strategies in the real estate industry or coordinated influencer marketing campaigns? Think about what is in your portfolio already and what type of businesses you’d like to work with in the future. If that’s restaurants and cafés, then hone in on that industry and tailor your portfolio of work to entice them.
Do research in the field of the businesses you’d like to focus on. Get an understanding of current successful social media strategies and take notes on what you could do in the future for clients.
With that said, if you’ve freelanced before, you need to think like a business owner now. There are many benefits to running an agency compared to freelancing, but not everyone is able to think like a company owner.
Talk to your past clients and see if you can get them on board your new business venture. With a bit of luck, they’ll be so impressed by your agency that they’ll recommend you to their partners.
Further reading: social media marketing niches
2. Focus on specific social media channels
Sometimes less is more, and that could translate to focusing on one specific social media channel as your specialty instead of trying to do it all. Do you work primarily with Instagram already or have customer testimonials from previous work? Use successful data points from previous campaigns to include in your portfolio.
Also, consider what the landscape of social media platforms is like currently. With Elon Musk’s late 2022 forty-four-billion-dollar purchase of Twitter came internal chaos, changes to the platform rules, and user uncertainty. Over 877,000 accounts were deactivated since the takeover alone. With businesses leaving Twitter, they may not require marketing services on that platform, or in a year it could all bounce back. With that uncertainty ahead, it might be best to focus on social media channels you know are rising in popularity.
In 2022 the top three used social media platforms were Facebook with 2,910 million users, YouTube with 2,562 million users, and Instagram with 1,478 million users.
As of April 2022, The United States was the country with the largest TikTok audience by far, with approximately 136.5 million users engaging with the popular social video platform.
TikTok’s rise to fame and use will undoubtedly lead to more businesses embracing the platform and in need of a social media marketing agency to help them create and manage a social media strategy.
Think about your marketing strategy
Your agency will help others with their marketing strategy, but first, you’ve got to work on your unique selling point. With the help of competitor research, you can see who your competition will be and how they are marketing themselves.
You’ll want to come up with a company name and branding that speaks to your type of services. Consider the tone of voice your messaging and social media posts will have.
Keep in mind that prospective clients are going to view your social media accounts to get an understanding of your content marketing work; and they’ll base their decision to work with you on that.
Further reading: what is marketing automation?
Defining your services
An important step in creating your own social media marketing agency is defining your services. The world of social media marketing is vast, so it’s best to be direct about what you offer and how.
Some of the services you could offer include:
Content creation, publishing, account management
Growth and social listening
Research and analysis
Paid social campaigns
Along with the type of services you offer, determine how you offer them. Will you work on a case-by-case basis or recurring monthly plans? Define your terms of work before you go live with your agency to avoid confusion and be clear with your potential clients.
Small business owners have a lot to manage day to day, and they need help understanding what goes into social media marketing or having the capacity to do it.
Once you have a client interested in your services, there will be an education component about how you have a solution for their challenges and what the ROI can be.
Use that information to potentially upsell clients—a vital component on your road to scale your agency. If someone thinks they are only interested in account management, explain to them why content creation should be a part of that, saving them both time and energy. And if you’re creating content for a customer, show them how important branding and a clear tone of voice are to running a successful social media account, and how you can help with that too.
Once you have signed on a client, assign a customer success manager to their account. A customer success manager will monitor feedback from the client and help them get the most out of your services. They also know where you could upsell or upgrade services for customers when it comes up organically.
Further reading: how to build an agency team
Determine your running costs
Speaking of upselling, a big part of running a successful social media marketing agency is making money.
You’ll need to determine your running costs as soon as possible to avoid getting in over your head. When building a budget, it will be helpful to decide on:
How many employees you can take on
Whether you’ll contract work out or hire freelancers
What tools do you need to stay organized and manage so many social media accounts
What software and equipment you’ll need for content creation
If you’ll want a CRM tool to manage customer relationships
How you’ll keep on top of accounting and billing
Whether you’ll spend money on advertising for your digital agency
As you can see, there is a wide range of things to take into account when determining your running costs. If finances are not your strong suit, find an accountant to work with to help you build an organized system to manage it all.
Impress with your social media profiles
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a nice sentiment, but when it comes to social media marketing it doesn’t ring true. How your agency profile looks on all the social media platforms is very important. Potential clients will look at your accounts to see your style and base their decision to reach out on that small bit of information.
Check out this example from Ignite Social Media. It’s just one of many cohesive Instagram posts that have a colorful and eye-catching presence.
If a social media marketing company has a terrible profile on Instagram and a customer is looking for help with creating IG Reels, then their shot at working with that client is lost.
So to make sure your voice is in the room when you aren’t, build a professional-looking account with high-quality images, design work, and tone. Impress your audience with your social media profiles and catch the eye of prospects.
Another important part of impressing future clients is staying on top of social media trends and implementing them in your own content publishing.
Take social commerce for example: 81% of people surveyed in the US use Instagram to decide whether to buy a product or service. Not only is that a cue for you to stay on top of how your own profile looks, but it’s something you can provide as a service to your clients. Account branding and content creation need to keep social commerce in mind, utilizing Facebook and Instagram Shopping tools and including product shots in content creation campaigns.
Define your client onboarding
As your agency grows and you begin to take on clients, you’ll want to have a clear process in place for client onboarding.
A discovery call is a common first step before signing with a client, where you discuss their business needs and challenges and your possible solutions.
Next, it is a good idea to put everything in writing. Draw up a proposal for each client that outlines your services for them, terms of services, a payment schedule, and anything else you think relevant.
Once your client has signed on to work with you, assign an employee to manage their account. From here you’ll have to decide how many team members will be working on each account.
For example, depending on the services they require, will each account have a manager, a customer success rep, a designer, a content creator, and/or a copywriter? Most likely when you’re starting to grow your agency, many of the roles will be done by the same people. To avoid burnout, try to clearly define roles and expectations beforehand for both your employees and the client.
Also read: how to grow a social media marketing agency
Use the right tools for your social media management business
Using the right tools for your social media management business can make your life a lot easier. But how do you know what the right tools are? Look for tools that help you work smarter and faster, communicate with clients, grow your business and create content.
Here’s a list of the three great tools for your social media management business:
SPP: client portal software
You have accounts, invoices, projects, and processes scattered across different tools. Things get lost and the client experience suffers. Your new digital agency needs a proper system that can help you stay organized and scale.
That’s where SPP comes in. It’s one platform that keeps everything in sync and helps you grow your agency.
With SPP you can:
Sell service packages
Create order forms
Manage recurring subscriptions
Manage the agency client onboarding process
Collaborate with teammates & contractors
Hootsuite: social media publishing
Hootsuite is a free social media calendar and scheduler. It has higher-priced plans for all different types of businesses and needs, but when you’re starting out building your agency, the free plan will be sufficient.
Using Hootsuite you can plan your post ahead of time, monitor results, and answer all your DMs in one place.
You can also create multiple boards which are helpful when you are working with multiple clients. Each board can be for a different account, allowing you to stay organized and keep an eye on all accounts at all times.
Tip: check out this Hootsuite alternative
Canva: content creation
Canva is a free graphic design tool that offers pre-made templates to help you create content for social media easily and quickly.
You don’t need any design experience to work with Canva. They make it super simple for anyone to create a high-quality piece of content through a drag-and-drop editor.
With Canva templates you can create:
All types of social media posts
If you are more advanced in graphic design, you can easily import any of your own templates to have on file for all your teammates to use.
Prepare for your launch
And now for the grand finale—it’s time to prepare for your agency launch!
To get the word out about your social media services, you’ll want to list your agency everywhere possible.
Research top agency directories in your area and industry. Check out places like AdForum, Credo, and Agency Spotter.
Before you actually set a date for your digital marketing agency launch, here’s a list of things you’ll want to put on the to-do list:
Set up a website and link up the pricing page with your SPP order forms
Make sure all your social media accounts are updated with branding and contact info
Create a Google Business Profile to get listed on Google
Start a public relations strategy and build a social media campaign for the launch
Decide whether you want to do paid advertising
Update your LinkedIn profile with your new business details
And when you finally feel ready to push the launch button, consider a celebration. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get this agency started, and you deserve to celebrate that whether you’re a one-person operation or have a team.
Throw a launch party to get the word out about your services and invite potential clients and past clients to the event. You never know where your next project could come from.