Written by Jon Morgan
Social media is taking the business world by storm.
Around 97% of Fortune 500 companies rely on social platforms for marketing. Additionally, 71% of small and mid-sized enterprises use social media to reach their target audience. What’s more, 52% of these enterprises post daily.
With this in mind, it is clear that social media marketing services are increasingly becoming an important part of business today. If you start one now, you’re sure to get businesses interested in your services.
Wondering how to start a social media marketing agency? Here are six key steps to follow:
1. Determine Your Niche and Services
This step is crucial in knowing how to start a social media marketing agency. This is because it will be your guiding light to every other point we will discuss later on in this article.
In simple terms, niche refers to what your agency intends to focus on. Picking a niche helps your agency stand out from the competition. It will help you scope out your target market more effectively and determine the kinds of services you will offer them.
An example of how to niche down is to pick a specific industry that your agency will serve. You can choose any industry ranging from beauty and hair to tech and education.
For instance, Penguin Strategies has chosen B2B tech marketing as its niche as prominently displayed on its website homepage shown in the image below:
You can also niche down on the social media channels that your agency will use to serve your clients. For instance, you can choose to specialize in a social platform like Facebook or optimize your clients’ TikTok or Instagram accounts. So, you can package yourself as an expert in that platform or platforms.
This brings us to the next key element, determining the services your agency will offer. With 33% of social media agencies describing themselves as full services, picking a niche and specific service offerings will definitely help you stand out from the crowd. Some of the services that a digital marketing agency provides include:
- Strategic support across social media platforms
- Social media strategy development
- Community management
- Analytics and social media performance reporting
- Contest management on client social media accounts
- Scheduling and publishing social media posts (using scheduling tools)
- Social media campaign management
A pro tip in effectively picking a niche is to choose an industry or platform that you are already familiar with or that is within your skill set. That way, the learning curve will not be too steep. Align your service offerings to the niche you have chosen and you’re already done with step one of how to start a social media marketing agency.
2. Decide What to Charge for Your Social Media Services
After outlining the services you intend to offer, it naturally follows that you need a rate card. As you decide what to charge your prospective clients for your services, keep in mind that you can start small and scale up your prices with time and experience. Just to give you an idea, according to Agency Analytics, social media agencies charge fees ranging from $1500 to $25000 per month, depending on the services.
But even as you start small, remember that your social media marketing agency will incur cost. Your pricing should allow you to cater to all your bills without much strain. There are a number of options to consider when choosing how much to charge your clients. You can:
- Offer value-based pricing
- Set a standard price for all clients with customized additional services
- Give packaged services
- Provide hourly rates
- Offer a-la-carte, specialized services to each client
Whichever pricing model you choose, ensure that you can make a profit out of your hard work. After all, profit is a huge motivating factor for even more devoted and dedicated work for your and your employees.
3. Prepare a Business Plan
An effective business plan can help guide your decisions as the business owner. This is important because, with time, business owners tend to lose their initial visions and sense of direction. Your business plan will, therefore, act as road signage. It will help you keep an eye on every goal and milestone over time.
In developing a business plan, you need to first decide the type of business that you will legally set up. It’s also important for you to learn how to check the status of an LLC, sole proprietorship or partnership–whichever you decide to set up—even after you file for registration. This will help ensure you don’t miss out on anything else you might need to do for the business registration to be completed.
Don’t forget to get a certificate of good standing from the state in which you registered the company. Here’s an example. This isn’t for a social media marketing agency, but it’s just so you know how it looks:
When picking a name for your agency, choose one that’s unique and easy to pronounce. Consider performing a web search to see whether the related domain name is already taken. This is because you’ll need a website that can be associated with your brand.
Make sure your business plan has business promotion action plans and a marketing strategy, too. There’s no use in learning how to start a social media management agency if, after you set it up, no one will know it exists in the first place. Marketing is an essential part of business growth. Develop a content strategy you’ll use across social channels to reach target customers.
4. Create a Portfolio
A portfolio is an essential tool that will help you build client’s confidence in your agency. Each client wants assurance of return on investments. A portfolio will help them see how many other businesses trust your agency and its service offerings.
Remember to show the results of your work, too. So, don’t just show your actual social media posts. Reveal to potential clients how much your services helped your past or current clients reach their goals and boost performance. That means you need to show them some numbers. Include the names of your clients, too.
Check out how Combin does it on its website:
You don’t need to state all your previous work in your portfolio. Just shine a spotlight on your best results and you can convince the prospect more quickly.
5. Start Pitching New Clients
At this point, we have mostly answered the question “how to start a social media marketing agency.” The planning and strategy work is done and you now need to let people know your agency exists.
To get your ideal customers, start within your circle. Talk to your friends and family and let them know about your new venture. Working for friends and family can help you grow your portfolio that will help you land bigger clients. If they do not need the services you offer, they might still know someone who does.
Choose among the best digital business card solutions and use them to share your agency’s details with friends and family. Your card should include the link to your website, too. This makes you easily discoverable even after pitching to clients.
You can also do your online research on the clients who fit your niche. Follow them on social media. Engage with them through posts first. Then send a cold email or a DM to connect more directly with the prospect. Instead of selling your services directly, make sure you offer value first.
For instance, you can refer to their social media engagement and say you have ideas about how you can increase that. Don’t be arrogant in your approach, though. You should make them feel like you just really want to help.
6. Measure Growth
You know what they say, if you stop learning, you stop growing. Keep a close eye on the progress your agency makes and track every high and low point. This will help you draw lessons from past experiences and develop possible next steps to grow your business.
Performance reporting and social media audits are not just something you do for your clients. You need to report on the performance of every piece of content you have as well. Generate these reports at regular intervals to discover service delivery gaps and fix them.
As shown in the image above, you may also consider sharing your results with your clients and site visitors. This adds to your credibility and makes your clients more confident in having you as their social media marketing agency of choice.
Learning how to start a social media marketing agency takes lots of research and effort. Anyone can do it, though, even without marketing experience. When forming your agency, begin by deciding your niche and the services you intend to offer your potential customers.
Secondly, decide your pricing structure and figure out what you will charge your customers. After this, you can prepare a business plan, choose a business structure, and make a portfolio. Give your agency a solid online presence for marketing purposes.
Start pitching to new clients to further build your portfolio and start making money. Remember to measure growth over time so you can keep improving and scaling up your business.
Over to you. It’s time to take this new knowledge and use it to build a profitable social media marketing business!
Jon Morgan is the founder of two successful e-commerce and SaaS businesses. He's passionate about sharing what he has learned from working with business owners through Venture Smarter.