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How to Start a Social Media Marketing Agency

  • 15 Minutes
Start your own agency from scratch.

Starting a social media marketing agency – or any agency, for that matter – is no easy feat. Sure, it sounds like a wonderful idea, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or a thriving freelancer just waiting to sink your teeth into new clients and better projects.

Starting a social media marketing agency, like any business, can be a way to build a long-lasting legacy. Yet it also requires a lot of hard work, long hours, and a huge amount of determination, especially when you add the “always-on” aspect of social media management.

That said, those who do succeed in creating a social media marketing agency can find it endlessly lucrative, rewarding, and can ultimately turn it into a business that will stand the test of time. All you need to do is set up your agency with the right marketing tools, processes, and people, and you’ll be well on your way to success! Keep reading to find out exactly how to start a social media marketing agency and how to score your first clients – the easy way.

Why Start a Social Media Marketing Agency?

So why start a social media marketing agency at all? And what makes it better than any number of businesses you could start instead? Well, while everyone has their own “why”, let’s start with the basics. Starting a social media agency is:

  • Rewarding – By helping small business owners to optimize their online presence and succeed on social media, you can help them grow their business and thrive. Running your own agency means you can also work with whichever clients you want.
  • Lucrative – If you set up your social media marketing company correctly from the very beginning, before long you’ll have a cost-efficient business that will subsequently help you build long-term wealth.
  • Fun – Social media is an industry that is creative, interesting, and can help your clients stand out in the online space. Online marketing is constantly evolving. There are new social media platforms being released, new algorithm changes and new features, which means you’ll always be trying new things. So, unlike industries that remain pretty much unchanged year after year, with social media you won’t get bored!

And if these reasons aren’t enough, don’t forget that running a small business also means you can do everything on your terms. You’ll have no limits on your earning potential, you can (basically) choose your own hours, and you get to work with whoever you want, whenever you want.

If you need to scale up or scale back, you can. If you’re independent, want unlimited earning potential, have a previous background in marketing or just prefer to walk to the beat of your own drum, then starting a social media agency might just be for you.

How to Start a Social Media Marketing Agency – Even with Limited Experience!

The best part about starting a social media marketing agency is that you don’t need to be an expert right away. Sure, having some experience in content marketing or working at a digital marketing agency can help, but there are plenty of courses and resources that can help you build your skills and knowledge quickly.

If you can hire the right people, carve out a niche for your social media agency and present it well, you should be able to develop a strong reputation for your business within the industry, even if you only have limited marketing experience.

Keep reading to find out how to do all that – and more!

Step 1. Play to Your Strengths

Your first step when it comes to creating a social media marketing agency is to consider how you’ll differentiate yourself from all the other agencies out there. For instance, perhaps you’ll only work with eCommerce businesses, businesses in the health and lifestyle space, or B2B businesses? Perhaps you’ll specialize in social media accounts from a specific city only? Or, you might specialize in content marketing, consulting, Facebook ads, or offer certain add-on services like graphic design or influencer marketing.

Every digital marketing agency has its own unique niche which helps them cater to companies with different needs, and, ultimately sell their services. So, how do you come up with yours? Well, start by asking yourself the below questions:

  • What are my strengths (or the strengths of my staff?)
  • What do I enjoy doing?
  • What is missing in the market/what are clients struggling with?
  • What are some easy wins that I can help clients with?

These factors will determine how you can structure your business and its unique offering. They will help shape your unique selling proposition (USP) and help you start selling.

If you want more experience in a certain area, now is the time to learn! For instance, perhaps you can see opportunities in a specific area of social media but you’re not trained in that area. You might even want to specialize in a new and growing social media platform, like TikTok. Just hop online – there are plenty of social media marketing courses you can do to upskill, and fast!

Step 2. Create a Business Plan & Structure

Having a solid business plan and a comprehensive marketing strategy from the get-go will be integral to your ongoing success. When you’ve enlisted a few clients and you’re already working on client accounts it can be easy to neglect your own business and its marketing goals, but this will be crucial for long-term success.

It will also help you develop a cohesive and succinct website that shows potential clients exactly what your business stands for and how you can help them.

You’ll need to think about:

  • The structure of your business,
  • Your unique service offering,
  • Your target market, and
  • Your short and long-term business goals.

Outline your marketing services based on your USP and your strengths, and decide on a pricing structure. You might decide to have different packages or you might choose to create custom packages depending on what your clients want.

To create your service offering and define your target audience and goals, you’ll need to do your research. After all, you can’t just pull numbers out of thin air! Complete a competitive analysis with all your key competitors.

Depending on your USP and your goals, those competitors might, for example, be small agencies in your area who are offering similar services to what you’ll be offering. Analyze the below:

  • What they do best – and what they’re not so great at. This will help you see where your agency might fit into the picture
  • How they are pricing their services. If your prices are drastically higher, this might be a sign that you need to reduce your prices or simply crank up how you’re marketing them
  • If you’re missing any services, or if there’s a gap where you can offer services that other agencies in your area aren’t offering

Some of the services that social media marketing agencies typically offer are the below:

  • Community management
  • Content creation
  • Social media advertising
  • Social media strategy
  • Digital marketing strategy
  • Influencer marketing
  • Content marketing strategy, copywriting, visuals, and content curation
  • SEO services
  • Social media campaign management
  • Event marketing
  • Public relations (PR)
  • Video marketing
  • Web design and development
  • Social media reporting
  • And much more!

For instance, social media and digital marketing agency, The Creative Collective, offers a range of social media services all listed on their website.

Creative Collective agency landing page

The agency also lists a range of package and pricing options according to the needs of different clients. Whether or not you choose to have pricing options listed on your website is up to you. As your business evolves, you may even want to try different packages and see what works best for you.

Creative Collective agency pricing options

You don’t necessarily need to offer all the social media services you can think of. In fact, sometimes it’s better to hone in on just a few services and do them well rather than trying to be a “jack of all trades” and do everything.

All of this information will help you build an overarching business and marketing strategy for your social media agency.

Step 3. Hire the Right People

The great part about having a social media marketing agency as opposed to just working as, say, a contract freelancer, is that you can hire other people to work alongside you. Whether they’re working part-time or full time, remotely or in-office, having a team (even if it’s just one other person!) can help make your life easier.

Having a variety of team members with different skills also means that you’ll have people to bounce ideas off. Each team member will have slightly different skill sets than yours. This can only give you greater opportunities when it comes time to pitch for new client work. Not to mention, it helps to have someone to take the wheel when you want to take some time off!

The support of a marketing team can give you greater flexibility and help you become more efficient. Yet choosing the right team members is critical. Staff who make mistakes, don’t have the right skills, or are inefficient can be detrimental to your agency.

These tips can help you in the hiring process:

  • Choose the right staff. Take the time to choose people that suit your company culture, way of working, and personal values. You’ll only be working with a few team members initially so they all need to get along.
  • Select the right contracts and working arrangements. Don’t hire a full-time marketing team if you can’t afford it. You might need someone’s specialist skills only once a month for, say, monthly content creation. Or you might need an account manager three days per week. Define your roles early on – you can always build up your staff as demand grows.
  • Solidify your onboarding process. Having a rock-solid onboarding process is crucial if you want to train your staff well and set them up for success. Have well-defined processes in place and ensure your staff has the resources and marketing tools they need to succeed.
  • Set goals and KPIs. Each member of your marketing team should have a strong idea of how they can work towards their goals, learn new things, and advance to the next level. That means setting clear goals, outlining key performance indicators (KPIs), and defining the metrics you’ll use to track these goals.
  • Enrol staff in external training (or on-the-job training). Social media algorithms are changing all the time, and you and your team need to be kept up to date! You should always give your staff new opportunities to upskill and opportunities for advancement, whenever possible.

All this will ensure that your marketing team sticks with you for as long as possible. This is ideal because a close team will work together better. You won’t have to spend time training new staff and your company’s morale will stay high.

Step 4. Implement Social Media Management Processes and Marketing Tools

No matter whether your agency has two people or two hundred people, social media management processes and marketing tools are the keys to long-term success when it comes to running a social media agency! This is especially true if you’re operating a semi-remote or fully remote team.

Sure, processes and marketing tools come at a cost for your agency. But so does inefficiency. In fact, even just a few hours saved per week from just one staff member can represent substantial savings for your business. You need to decide whether saving hours consistently is a greater cost than investing in a marketing tool. Of course, it will depend on the cost of the tool and the number of hours saved, but, for most social media tools, it’s usually well worth the cost!

Not only that, but if a marketing tool can make your team members’ lives easier and means they won’t be bogged down doing boring admin tasks one day a week, isn’t it better to invest?

Step 5. Attract the Right Clients and Grow Your Social Media Agency

When you’re considering all the different marketing strategies you could use to attract new clients, don’t forget about your social media marketing for your own business! As a social media marketing agency, you need to practice what you preach, and having a stellar social presence is a big part of that.

To attract clients, think about the following, to begin with:

  • Referrals. These can come quite naturally but if you’re looking to upscale or you’re expanding your service offering it might be worth searching for more referrals. Consider whether you have any existing freelance clients you can reach out to or seek referrals from. On top of this, spread the word about your agency to friends and family, go to networking events and speak to other industry professionals wherever possible.
  • Social media marketing. As we’ve already mentioned, having a killer social media presence is key for social agencies. If your time is limited, focus on only one or two social media platforms and make them as amazing as you can!
  • Outbound marketing. Come up with a new business strategy to find new clients as efficiently as possible. These new clients could come through lead generation, SEO strategies, PPC, social media marketing, or even email marketing. When you’re first starting out it’s best to try new things, one at a time, so you can see which channels are the most cost-efficient.

After a while, you’ll get more and more referrals, build your online presence and refine your marketing strategies so they suit your specific needs.

Step 6. Track Your Results and Improve Constantly

Once you have built up a network of a few clients and you’ve got consistent work coming through your social media marketing agency, you need to keep it coming! But this will only happen if you do a great job with your current clients.

Assess your pace of growth and ensure you have enough team members to service your existing clients. Remember, this is where your testimonials will come from, so it’s important that they have a great experience with you. Make sure you can grow quickly yet sustainably.

As a social media marketing agency, efficiency is key. Yet how can you improve continuously, maximize efficiency, and still have time to onboard new clients? Here’s how:

  • Assess and understand your bottom-line costs and find out how you can improve profits. See if there is anything you’re paying for that you don’t need, like software or monthly subscription services. Analyze which clients are profitable and which aren’t making you much money. After the first few months, you can aim to either increase your rates or seek out new clients.
  • Track your marketing efforts using social media marketing tools like Sked Social. Not only can you use Sked to track the social media performance for your own business, but you can also use it for your clients. Sked Social’s advanced reporting features can help you assess your social media performance and can help prove to clients that you’re boosting their social media marketing presence and helping them hit their marketing goals. It can also show how your clients stack up against their competitors.
  • Tweak your overall marketing strategy according to your reporting. Continue what’s working – and pause what’s not! Digital marketing changes all the time, so what works for one client might not work for another.
  • Gather testimonials. Over time and as you grow your client base, you’ll be able to start gathering testimonials from clients. The strongest testimonials have a written component and a client photograph and/or client logo to accompany them. To grab a testimonial, make it as easy as possible for your clients by sending them an example of a testimonial and a template to fill out. Make it short and sweet! For long-term clients or really great marketing campaigns, you might also want to build case studies. These are in-depth summaries of high-performing campaigns and are a strong example of your best work.

The example below highlights how digital marketing agency Saffron & Co has taken a client testimonial and used it to strengthen their online presence via social media.

Saffron and Co testimonial thanking them for their amazing work.

If you’re just starting your social media marketing agency it might take some time to reach out to potential customers, build testimonials and eventually grow your client base. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Ready to Start Your Own Social Media Marketing Agency?

Are you ready to start your own social media marketing agency? If so, you need to equip yourself with smart processes, a strong marketing team, and clever marketing tools from the very beginning.

You might not feel like you need to try new marketing tools but you’ll quickly find that, as your client needs grow and you onboard new clients you’ll need to work more and more efficiently. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with start-ups, local businesses, or enormous corporations, you should never miss scheduling social media posts for any client!

Now that you know how to get started, why not shape your social media marketing agency into an efficient time-saving machine? Get started by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial. Our all-in-one social media scheduler allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Instagram Stories, videos, and more. But it doesn’t just work with Instagram. It also works with LinkedIn, Twitter, your Facebook page, and plenty of other social media platforms!

Tag locations, users, and products, and manage all your hashtags in one place to save hours every week and turn your social media marketing strategy from ad-hoc to amazing.

Photo of Photo of Kyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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