You are here because you want to start a social media marketing agency. That’s great!
Maybe you have been in the social media ad space or influencer marketing industry for years and you understand that social media channels are exploding with content marketing since the pandemic.
It could be that you have worked for a social media agency or at a social media management company and know it is your time to step out and start offering social media marketing services.
However you got here, we want to provide you with real expertise and actions to create your own digital agency.
The job is almost half done once you know what it is that you want to do. All you need next is to work out the details and get started.
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, this part can be tricky.
However, with the right marketing efforts, social media management tools, and business acumen you’ll have your social media marketing agency not only up and running itself but successfully running digital marketing campaigns, running social media management plans, social media ads, conquering content creation, marketing services, and building your social media agency for your clients in no time.
In this step by step guide, we will show you how to start a social media marketing agency and make digital marketing for your new company successful.
Why Start A Social Media Marketing Agency?
When considering the answer to this question, it’s best to consider the source. It’s important to understand your ‘why’ before committing down this path.
We asked one of eclincher’s own very successful agency clients, PREM PR & Social, based out of California with offices in San Diego and Fresno. Founded and owned by Marilyn Cowley, PREM PR & Social is an agency that has grown to focus on many aspects of running a business such as social media management, public relations, website development, influencer marketing, SEO & digital marketing, video and photography, and even event planning and management.
Marilyn continues, “social media is never going away and it will only continue to evolve. As Gen Z and Gen Y continue to lead and work at companies, social media will continue to be at the forefront of all marketing initiatives. Why? Because they are the technologically savvy generation.
In general, most people today have a phone and/or use social media platforms, which is why social media is the only form of marketing that could influence someone daily.
Starting a social media agency now allows you to evolve with the different platforms available and become an expert and thought-leader in the social space. A space that will continue to always be “on trend.””
Your why may differ, but it is an essential practice to understand why you want to start an agency in the first place.
Whatever the reason, here are some recommended steps to keep you laser-focused on your goals as you push toward the finish line.
Step 1: Focus On What You Are Best At
Web design? Crafting the perfect social media post? Working with social media influencers? Running a social media management service? Maybe paid social or organic social?
This is just another way of telling you to choose a digital marketing niche for your social media marketing agency.
The reason why your first step should be choosing a niche is that, while it can be tempting as a new business owner to try dipping your fingers in every pie out there as a marketing strategy, the pie you know most about is the one that can guarantee your success.
Specialists win over digital marketing generalists. But, that also does not mean you will be a great business owner. We will talk more about this later. As a suggestion, you should focus first on what you are great at and build your skillset or hire for that skillset.
And, with the growing competition in the social media marketing industry at an all-time high, you need to be able to focus your efforts on doing what you know best and delivering the best results for your clients.
Trying to do everything at once may take away from your ability to do that. Focusing on a niche will help target your persona, use case, or in layman’s terms your audience.
First things first. You need to decide on your industry niche. It’s assumed that you already have experience in an industry, such as SaaS or IaaS, pharma or fintech, hospitality or travel, property management or real estate.
Maybe you’re a serial entrepreneur and see digital marketing and social media as an opportunity when the pandemic hit. Opportunists aside, a social media agency can add real value to a business’ bottom line. Value on investment is huge for companies seeking to measure the impact of hiring an agency such as yours especially if you are well informed on an industry.
There are several main advantages to having a social media marketing company focused on a certain industry.
First of all, you can use your existing network and list of industry contacts to scout for clients. This will make it easier for you to attract initial clients and allow you to focus your own marketing efforts on a specific target audience instead of trying to attract everyone from anywhere.
Remember we learned, attract everyone, attract no one.
Second of all, businesses are always looking to collaborate with service providers that know their trade and understand their specific needs. Healthcare companies don’t have the same needs as e-commerce businesses. Just the same as beauty product businesses have different needs than non-profit organizations.
Focusing your services on a specific industry will give your social media marketing agency radical differentiation and edge you are seeking. It will make it easier for you to tailor your social media service to their unique requirements, pitch your solution to their challenges, and ultimately close contracts with clients that are active in that specific industry.
To close the gap, tailoring your services to serve a specific niche will help you offer high-quality services and deliver better results than general social media marketing agencies can. Simply because you understand what it takes and know how to “work” or navigate selling to that industry. This will help your business grow exponentially and secure your long-term success.
Social Platform Niche
Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can be as different as industries are. Facebook (Meta), for instance, functions by different rules and targets a different audience than even Instagram (the adopted child of Facebook) and definitely Twitter and LinkedIn.
When the Facebook ad was invented Zucks and Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, found a way to monetize.
Facebook’s social media platform opened the door for paid social and other social media marketing campaigns across other giant social media channels. The social media ad was born and this niche has exploded for the proverbial social media company.
Brand awareness became a social media strategy outside traditional marketing efforts. Lookalike audiences are just standard digital marketing talk now, and privacy are conversations consumers care about.
When you are starting out, you need all the help you can get. And you should make sure your time and energy are not spent on business models that don’t have an immediate impact on your agency’s growth.
That is why you should start with what you are good at. Is it Facebook? Is it Pinterest? Twitter? No matter what social media platform you are experienced and savvy in, that’s the one you should focus your energy on.
At least in the beginning.
Establish yourself as a specialist in one or a few platforms and allow your social media agency to grow from there. We suggest building social proof with clients first, even if that means pro bono, and building opportunities for video testimonials for your website and on your social media channels. Your future self will thank you for the extra added ROI.
Clients are much more likely to trust your knowledge and strategies and consider signing with you if you are an expert in your field rather than a Jack or Jane of all trades.
Lastly, focusing on a specific digital marketing channel will also give your agency an edge and help you to narrow your radical differentiation in your space. Through data and experience, you can understand further the underserved market in your niche and then service that target audience better than anyone else, thus growing your MRR.
Step 2: Plan and Structure Your Business
Now that you know what digital marketing skills you want to hone in on and you’ve decided what your target industry niche and social media account to master, it’s time to get the ball rolling.
Your social media marketing agency is a business and it, therefore, needs a structure to get off the ground and be successful.
Do Your Research
Your first step should be thorough research. Research the industry you are targeting and your competition. Remember those SWOT analysis worksheets in business class in college?
Competitive analysis is KEY to understanding what is already out there and what is missing. Some of your competition might be heavy on influencer marketing as a social media strategy. What can you bring to the table to offset your weaknesses? Do you need to offer that package for your niche to be successful? These are all budding questions that need to be answered.
See what other digital marketing agencies offer in terms of services, packages, and pricing. How are they positioning their services? How do you plan on positioning yours? See what your competition uses to define their brand, the tone of voice they use, and how they approach social selling.
As far as the industry is concerned, make sure you not only do your initial research but also always stay on top of anything that could qualify as industry news. You need to be very familiar with any changes or events that may have an effect on your clients’ business.
Use the findings of your research to come up with a strategy for your social media marketing company.
- What elements define your brand?
- What style and tone of voice do you want to use to communicate with potential clients and your audience?
- How do you plan to engage with your target audience and grow your social media brand?
- What are your immediate goals for your agency?
- What are your short and long-term goals?
Determine What Social Media Marketing Services You Want to Offer
You already know by now what industry you are targeting. So, you should also already know what they need. On top of that, you should have already decided what platforms you will specialize on.
Mixing this information together, determine what services you want and can offer potential clients.
If you start to get into client meetings and they ask for services you don’t provide yet, keep track of how often so you can pivot and fill in those gaps sooner rather than later.
You can limit your services to the ones you can provide with the staff you have within your agency or supplement it with services offered by other services providers. SEO agencies get a great deal of business from other agencies for this very reason.
Social media marketing agencies generally offer the following services:
- increase social media presence
- consistent content calendar
- SEO or SEM services
- content marketing, writing, and curation
- video marketing
- PR services related to social
- Website design and visual content
- review and comment management
- handling influencer marketing campaigns
- social media advertising
- social media planning
- creating strategies for and running social media campaigns
- community management
Setup and Running Cost
Unpleasant as it may be, you need to crunch the numbers to see what the costs of running your social media marketing services will be. It’s the only way to know if the business model you chose can work and how much you need to charge for your business to make a profit.
Split the costs in two. Separate the costs you will incur launching the business from the ones you will incur running the business.
Launch costs can include investments like a new laptop, video equipment, costs of registering the company, your website, design, business cards, and advertising. Basic running costs include things like a leased office space, keeping the lights on, professional licenses, staff, and other monthly expenses.
Determine Your Pricing
Once you know how much money you need to keep the business running, you will have the baseline you need for pricing your services. What you charge for your services should cover the running costs plus 10-30%, which will be your profit margin.
Go into as much detail as you can and consider what your competition is charging. Work out how much you want to charge for a campaign strategy, for each type of content, for answering direct messages. You want to be prepared for any questions your clients will have.
And trust me! They will have many questions about costs.
You should also determine how you want to structure your prices. Do you want clients to pay you by project, by task, monthly, hourly?
The most common pricing options social media marketing agencies offer are:
- monthly fees or retainers (a fixed fee that includes all the services you will be providing)
- project-based with specific advance payment and payment milestones
Always remember, when they don’t understand marketing the corporate world tends to under staff. This is also related to budgeting. Business owners have no idea what a 3D rendering or a video testimonial project can run. Do you want to position as a high-end agency or an affordable local option? These are questions you should be asking in step 2.
Step 3: Prepare the Launch of Your Social Media Marketing Agency
Your social media presence as a social media marketing agency is essential to your success. It’s basically your business card and proof you know what you are doing.
Your clients need to see what you can deliver and there’s no better way they can do that than to look at how you promote your own business. In the end, if you’re not doing a good job for your agency, how will you increase brand awareness and business opportunities for them?
Ever heard the saying, the landscaper doesn’t have time to mow his own yard. Don’t let that be true for your business.
The first step is your website. It must:
- be active, have all the required certificates, and run smoothly
- be optimized for SEO (be sure to implement all the small business SEO best practices)
- offer clients multiple options for reaching you (email, phone, chatbot, contact form)
- reflect your brand and be consistent in terms of tone of voice, visual content, etc
The second is your social media accounts. Needless to say that they need to be in tip-top shape to attract clients. All the content promotion that you do on your social media must be consistent with your brand, up-to-date, and optimized.
You should also consider running a paid advertising campaign before your launch and for a few months after.
Third, your agency will need to be present on all relevant directories, Google Maps, Google My Business.
Last but not least, you should have a PR strategy in place, complete with relevant publications, industry influencers that can help get the word out on your launch, link building, and outreach tactics. You could even consider a live or online event and a giveaway for promoting your launch.
Step 4: Attract Clients and Grow Your Agency
It’s not going to be easy. I will be honest about that. There’s a lot of competition nowadays between social media marketing agencies. Therefore, finding clients is not as simple as launching your agency and waiting for them to knock on your door.
It’s going to take a lot of coffee and a lot of sweat to make it.
The good news is that client interest in digital marketing is also on the rise as more and more businesses understand how social media can influence their growth.
And, if you follow Step 1 of this guide and carefully choose your niche, attracting clients will be easier as you will know exactly who you are targeting and how to do it.
Reach Out to Industry Contacts
If you already have social media marketing experience and a network in the industry you chose to target, your first step should be to reach out to your contacts.
If your contacts include industry influencers, work out a mutually beneficial agreement and ask them to promote your agency to their circle/audience. Reach out to your industry connections and former clients of collaborators and ask them to help spread the word.
You should also ask them to write testimonials or reviews that you can post on your website and your Google My Business page.
Source Clients on Social Media
This one is pretty obvious, right?
As a social media marketing agency, this is the first place you should look for clients. Focus your efforts on platforms that are relevant to the industry you are targeting and business-oriented platforms like LinkedIn to contact potential clients and pitch your services.
Be active on those platforms by:
- regularly posting relevant and informative content that will establish your credibility and reputation
- joining or even setting up industry groups
- answering questions and engaging with the community
- hosting events like webinars or participating in industry events
Amp Up Your Digital Marketing Efforts
To promote and market your social media marketing agency, you should consider:
- tailoring any content you share on your social media and in your marketing campaigns to your audience
- reaching out to potential clients on the platforms they are most active on
- using testimonials and case studies to show what results potential clients can expect from working with you
- running paid campaigns on your social media
- running digital advertising campaigns
- running email marketing campaigns and sending newsletters
- using email lookup tools and sending outreach emails
To be able to properly promote your social media marketing agency, you should also always stay on top of industry news. That is both social media marketing news and the industry you chose as your niche.
Any small change could become an advantage for you. Plus, staying informed always pays off as it shows your clients you know your business and their business.
This article was co-written by Jenn Guidry and Andy Cabasso.
Andy Cabasso is co-founder of Postaga – the easiest way to build links and traffic, with an all-in-one SEO research, contact finder, and email outreach platform.