Even though starting a business is a big and risky step, for many social media marketers, it makes sense to do so after gaining experience in the field. So what does it take to launch and successfully expand a social media marketing agency?
You need to understand many things before beginning, from knowing which platforms you want to work with to standing out and finding your first client.
This manual will walk you through each step required to launch a profitable agency, from setting up a strong foundation and marketing your services to attracting clients. In addition to our research, we consulted several experts on social media and asked them about the process of starting a social media marketing agency. Here is what they said.
1. Choose a niche
Your niche will be more suited to your target audience the more narrowly it is defined. A niche can be concentrated on a certain economy sector (entertainment, beauty, technology) or a social media platform, such as Instagram or Tiktok. Only having the capacity to serve a sufficient number of customers will generate income.
Being properly represented online is crucial to building a successful social media marketing agency, including a steady clientele and revenue stream.
Former owner of a social media agency, Richard Barker, is now in charge of marketing for Clarion Security Systems. He asks you to consider, “Are you an expert on TikTok or LinkedIn? What kind of audience are you hoping to address?”
This question is essential as you go through the ideation and content creation process for your clients. Whether you want to focus on one platform or use them all, Richard says, “You need to ensure that your channels produce great content that gets engagement.”
You’ll also need to choose a niche to avoid multitasking, especially if you’re starting alone or with a small team. Taking on too much work across numerous platforms and industries can be exhausting, and you might burn out before you even start.
Jason White, CEO of the gardening information platform All About Gardening and a social media industry expert, has some excellent suggestions for choosing a niche. He suggests, “Start by mastering one platform when building a social media marketing agency. Select the most effective social media channel to reach your niche.”
Remember that you must first master the rules and dynamics of each platform. Your marketing strategies need to be customized for each platform because what works well on Instagram might not work well on Facebook.
Picking a niche can be very beneficial – here are some reasons to consider yours extra-closely
2. Determine the services (and pricing) you want to offer
Choosing what services and prices to offer comes right after choosing a niche. With social media marketing, there are many services you can and cannot provide. The following are some of the services social media marketing agencies might provide:
- Social media strategy
- Account creation, branding, and growth
- Social media and community management
- Content creation: Copywriting, Graphic design, Platform-specific content (IG Reels, TikToks, 140-character Tweets)
- Content publishing
- Research and analysis
- Social media consulting
You might be able to provide social media copywriting and graphic design but not account creation and account growth. While some clients might prefer thorough reporting, others might be able to handle it.
It’s possible to publish content without answering comments. You can give customers value for their money by selecting a list of services you are qualified to handle.
The importance of a clearly defined process and how to price are two concepts that cannot be overstated. According to Anna Sullivan, the founder of The Creative Exchange, a content creation agency, not having them could eventually hurt your business.
3. Determine your unique selling points and prepare a business plan
Understanding the market is crucial before launching a social media marketing agency. Numerous organizations provide various services that are comparable to yours. It is crucial to understand the market to ascertain what your audience wants and what your unique selling points will be.
Roy Morejon, the co-founder of Enventys Partners – a full-service product launch company – says, “I also highly recommend finding a differentiator that sets your business apart from the others.”
You’re competing with not just the social media marketing agencies but possibly around the world too. He adds, “It’s okay if you do not have a differentiator from the start, but it will be harder to succeed until you find one.”
Once you’ve decided on your unique selling propositions, you’ll need a business plan, such as expanding TikTok accounts like Kozen Creative or producing visual content for Instagram.
Even though you might not be looking for investors or trying to persuade a top CMO to join your business, a business plan will be a useful model to help you make decisions as a business owner.
Without careful financial planning, an agency cannot be established. The first and most important step is to determine how much it will cost to run your agency overall, including base costs.
This guidance may seem straightforward, but it’s important to consider various financial factors to ensure you launch your company properly, says Allan Stolc, founder and CEO of Bankly, a platform for finding loans.
Tovbin continues, “Social media marketing entrepreneurs might not have enough venture-back capital at the early stages of their careers. Big Mailer is an email marketing agency.
They can, however, maintain their competitiveness by starting their companies from scratch. This implies that they can maximize their resource use without spending much money using inexpensive and efficient tools.
4. Start pitching clients
Once you’ve identified your niche, put some effort into locating clients who meet your requirements and cultivating relationships with them that are advantageous to both parties.
To determine who you can and cannot work with, think about developing an ideal customer profile that you can use in conjunction with your chosen niche.
Eric Ridenour, a marketing consultant at the programmatic ad agency Strategus, suggests contacting a charity and offering to manage their social media for those who are just starting. He claims, “There are many advantages to volunteering for a cause you support.
First, supporting a nonprofit is a fantastic way to establish a culture and brand values for your new company. As you gain experience, you can add them to your client list.
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Eric continues by saying that a nonprofit frequently has no objections to you using them as a case study and for other purposes. Teams and some policies are common in many organizations, so you can learn how they operate.
Going on freelancing websites and social media to look for clients, particularly those looking for long-term partnerships, is a good way for people with experience to find clients.
“Go above their expectations to produce the results they need, and express your desire to continue working together,” advises Johannes Larsson, a digital marketing expert.
The ideal outcome is to build a client base that you like working with, represents your skills well, and is happy to partner with you for the long term.”
Remember that the best way to catch a potential client’s attention is to highlight your prior work and its performance analytics. You’ll need to develop and compile your experience into a portfolio to get better responses from the clients you pitch to.
6. Track your progress in a portfolio and turn it into social proof
If you want to launch your social media marketing agency, creating a solid portfolio highlighting your marketing abilities is a crucial first step.
To convince potential customers that you are an authority in your field, emphasize your team’s qualifications, relevant experiences, and previous clients. Allow your portfolio to do the selling.
Why is a portfolio essential? Establishing a strong portfolio responds to the question of why customers should choose you even if you are getting started as a social media marketing expert, according to Brogan Renshaw, marketing expert and Director at Modelers Central, a manufacturer of model ships. To actively build a portfolio, you need to:
- Document your successful projects on your website as you go
- Quantify your actions and what results they had for your clients, i.e., X campaign achieved Y per cent of growth for my previous clients. Blake Smith, a marketing consultant, says, “Analytics that shows the return of investment of your work are integral to client retention.”
- Encourage satisfied clients to leave feedback on your page to bring authenticity to your brand.
It’s easier to start social media accounts now rather than wait for your first client, which is another important step. Again using Richard Barker, “No prospective customer wants to visit your social media pages and discover that you haven’t posted in over a year.
They seek assistance because they need someone adept at generating engagement and sales through social media and lives and breathes it.”
Additionally, you can use your clients as social proof. “When business owners find great value and benefits in the social media marketing services you offer, they can become your first brand ambassadors,” says Tim Hill, CEO of Social Status, a social media analytics platform.
Encourage them to follow you on social media, comment on your posts, like them, and mention your company in their social media posts. You’ll build solid, long-lasting business relationships this way.
By providing excellent service to your clients, you can start a cycle of repeat business that will support and expand your business. As the ultimate demonstration of your expertise, concentrate on producing and delivering high-quality work on your platforms and those of your clients.
This promotes word-of-mouth recommendations, which eventually reduces your need to seek out customers to offer your service to.
7. Grow your agency at a slow and steady pace and find community
Growing a social media marketing agency is different from just building one. You will need to keep an eye on many things after the initial development stages, from developing a profound understanding of running a business or maintaining professional relationships. Slow growth is, therefore, necessary.
Your work and delivery quality should be great enough to speak for themselves so that you don’t have to run around pitching clients. Returning to Richard Barker’s advice, he says, “Make sure you deliver – chasing leads, and new business is essential for an agency, but don’t forget about your customers – always make sure you deliver what you said you would. Referrals are potentially the lifeblood of your business.”
Communities are effective resources for business owners. Find a group of people doing the same thing and connect with them, for connecting with other marketers travelling the same path as you, check out marketing-focused communities like Online Geniuses and Demand Curve.
Have the right people in your corner as people to help do the work or be a mentor, The Creative Exchange’s Anna Sullivan advises as a concluding testament to the strength of a community.
Everything seems like a unique situation, and there will be so much you don’t know how to handle. But having the right people by your side will make it much simpler.
Buffers is at the top of the list of excellent tools to support your growth as you build a social media marketing agency. Join them on our Agency plan for simple account management. More than 12,000 agencies use Buffer to manage social content for their clients.