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How to Start a Social Media Agency

Social media was an idea that sprouted from the need to stay in touch with friends and family in the time of the internet. This seemingly simple idea evolved into something gigantic and now pretty much everything happens on/through social media channels. Be it personal or business, most of it is shared and addressed on social. However, this can get overwhelming as there is more than just one social channel to manage.

90% of digital marketers claim that social media is one of their most effective type of digital marketing. However, it is an around-the-clock affair! 49% say it is the most difficult type of marketing to crack. So, businesses usually look to outsource the task to an expert. If you are a social media pro, why not put that expertise to use and earn some bucks? Why not start your own social media agency?

Now let’s see how we can go about setting up your social media agency.

Select a niche

Each industry’s needs are different. It is important to know what each of their requirements are. But gambling through the long list of industries can be tedious. Instead, start with an industry that you already know well about. Make a list of industries that you are familiar with—what they do, what’s their market size, the number of businesses, etc.

This list is a good place to start:

  • Marketing, PR, Advertising
  • Consumer goods
  • Media and publishing
  • Education
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Travel and Tourism
  • Healthcare
  • IT services
  • Technology
  • Real estate
  • Manufacturing
  • Hospitality
  • Financial services
  • Printing and design
  • Government (I see you raise eyebrows, but it has a good market)
  • Human resources
  • Automotive
  • Insurance
  • Telecommunications
  • Industrial goods
  • Law firm or Legal services
  • Utilities
  • Accounting services

If an industry does not make enough money, can they pay you enough? So, filter out the industries that do not see a lot of money. (Here’s some help on how you can do that.) Once you’re done with this, mark out the ones that have businesses or stores set up in the same locale as yours. They are the ones you are going to chase. Since at the start you are a small player, it is best to play small.

Services and Pricing

Now that the list is ready, make a note of all the services that you will offer and how much you plan to charge for them. Here are a few services to consider:

  • Developing marketing strategies
  • Setting up social accounts
  • Creating relevant text and visual content
  • Curating content based on latest trends
  • Customer service through social
  • Marketing analysis and reporting
  • Competitor analysis
  • Generating leads

If the list isn’t helping, do a bit of research, speak to a few people from the industry on what they look for in a social media agency, and build your list. But remember to put your client shoes on. It is more important that you offer what the client needs than what you think your client needs.

And now for pricing, there are two popular ways in which agencies handle it.

They prefer to not make the pricing public. Instead, they list the services they offer up front. Prospective clients can reach out to them through a contact form or with the contact information available on the website.

Stickyeyes-digital-markting-agency

There are others who list their services as packages. This allows the prospective client to choose a package that fits their pocket.

Marketeering Group-digital-marketing-agency

After you have decided on the services you want to offer and sorted them under the plans and packages, it’s time to put a price to it. As a new social media agency, you may find it a challenge to charge a high price. But that will eventually change as you provide great service to your clients. So start by pricing your plans and packages based on your experience or your expertise.

Pro tip: Once you set the stage and begin rocking the show, you will start seeing clients come back to you on a retainer. Seize the opportunity to charge a retainer fee.

Business Structure

This is one of the key steps that most people often miss. When you are starting out, it is most likely that you are the only person doing everything. You may think that it does not require any kind of paperwork. But social media is constantly evolving and sometimes things can go wrong. In which case, there is a high possibility of getting sued. So, form a limited liability company which prevents you from getting sued. Even in the event of getting sued, your personal assets will remain untouched. It’s better to have a business license.

Pro tip: Check whether you can get an LLC even as a single-proprietor. It requires extra paperwork and a bit of money, but it’s definitely worth it.

Accounting

Where there is a business, there is money involved; where there is money involved, there is accounting. You already have a lot of other things such sales pitches, marketing strategies to worry about and accounting shouldn’t be one of them.

freshbooks-multi-platform

What you need is an accounting assistant and there are plenty of tools to help you with that. One of the tools you might want to look up is FreshBooks. It has built-in expense management and time-tracking features. It also lets you accept payments directly from clients. It works great as an invoicing tool. Yes, there are other invoicing alternatives for you to consider such as QuickBooks and Xero.

If you are done with all these recommendations (which usually takes up to four weeks), your agency is ready to take off. Now we need to bring in some clients. So, let’s pick up the magic wand called marketing. But it’s not as easy to get results.

Have a Website

First things first! Your social media agency needs an online presence and the place to start is by creating a website. This includes picking a name for your social media agency, one that has some hint of what your agency is all about.

Wordpress-themes-sample-smhack-social media agency

Once you have a domain, you need to host it. My best bet is WP Engine for two reasons—they are great servers and their packages start as low as $29/month. As mentioned in my previous blog post, WordPress has plenty of agency-ready themes that you can use. Unbounce and Themeforest are the other alternatives. Remember, design is not all. It is important that you have great content that is error-free, easy to understand, and sells your services.

Pro tip: People’s online reading habits have become increasingly mobile since 2009. In May 2017 alone, mobile users were over 50% of the overall internet users. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

Create social presence

I’m sure, you already know that building a following for your agency (or your client’s business) is entirely different. But if you claim to know everything about social, then shouldn’t you show how it is done in real-time?

Start by making sure that you are active on all social channels. Your social profiles should stand as ideal examples of what a good social profile should look like. An engaged fan following is more important that a big fan following. You might need the help of some tools such as Klout or Kred to know how influential your social profiles are. When you start out, it might not be much, but based on the kind of engagement you generate, your scores increase.

Pro tip: Pay close attention to influencers and learn from them. See what kind of posts is bringing in a lot of engagement from people. Follow suit.

Networking

Remember, right at the start of this post we had talked about starting small, about reaching out to businesses closest to you or within your locale? That’s where you need to begin. The ideas listed here are budget-free and are explained in detail in another blog post.

  • Start with your closest circle of family and friends to help you spread the word.
  • Participate in local meetups where people gather to discuss their businesses.
  • Host an event where you offer free reviews of businesses’ social presence.
  • Reach out to people through LinkedIn and pitch your social media agency.
  • Share engaging content on social profiles.
  • Write blog posts on your social media agency’s niche.
  • Partner with non-competing agencies.

Social Media Management Tool

Even if you have one client, in the beginning, let me remind you that there is more than one profile that you will need to manage. As your clients grow, so will the number of social profiles.

While you may have managed your personal profiles, it is not the same when managing your clients’ profiles. So, it is better to invest in a social media management tool which is particularly tailored for social media agencies such as yours.

With a social media management tool in place, all your content publishing can be better organized. The tool also allows you to schedule content, saving you a lot of time that you might otherwise spend on getting new clients. Here’s a quick checklist for you to take into account when selecting a social media management tool.

  • Publishing and scheduling content
  • Competition analysis
  • Unified social inbox
  • Manage more than one client
  • Reports and analytics
  • Pocket friendly

And, that’s it! You are all set. Now all you need to do is provide the best social media management service possible and watch your agency grow.

If you are a social media agency, then share a few tricks of the trade with us and our readers.