This article is the second part in a two-part series. The first article in the series is about how to start an agency in a more general sense — with insights that are applicable to any small business.
Once you’ve built a solid foundation for your social media agency in terms of branding, bookkeeping, and legal compliance, it’s time to think about your long-term growth strategy.
Specifically, you’ll want to start thinking about:
- Choosing an all-in-one social media management tool for client work
- Establishing repeatable processes for common business activities (like onboarding clients and business development)
- Purposefully growing your network to find business collaborators
- Investing time and money to learn new things
Here’s how to start a social media marketing agency that can become a thriving business:
#1: Pick an All-in-One Social Media Marketing Tool
If you’re running a professional operation, you need the right tools operating at the backend of your business. If you want to truly provide value to clients, you need an all-in-one solution for social media scheduling, mentions monitoring, engagement, and analytics.
Social Media Marketing Tool Recommendation
Social Report offers so many useful social media agency features conveniently accessible via one connected dashboard. Keep it simple when it comes to providing all of your social media management services so that you have more time to bring on and serve new clients.
#2: Create Repeatable Processes for Common Business Scenarios
If you’re wondering how to start a social media marketing agency that doesn’t just exist, but thrives, here’s the secret: documenting repeatable processes.
There are two big reasons for doing this:
- Reducing the cognitive load of executing regular tasks.
- Making it easy to delegate work to employees and independent contractors as your agency grows.
This documentation can take on many forms: written instructions, audio, video, or a mix of these things. Check out this Trello article about delegating complex tasks for more insight into setting up a system to store and share processes.
Then, create processes around the following tasks:
- Business development: A succinct elevator pitch that effectively describes your offering, a basic “script” for your sales process, and common sales email templates.
- Client consultations: Or, specific questions you can ask prospects to find out more about their business, business goals, and pain points.
- Client onboarding process: Erin Flynn’s intro packet system will help you cover all the bases.
- Content marketing editorial calendar: This will help to ensure that you always know what you’re supposed to be doing to promote your own business, consistently putting yourself out there. Many agencies are great at helping clients with their marketing but neglect their own and it’s a bad look when it comes to projecting the image that you can get stuff done.
- Proposals, contracts, and invoicing: Create templates but don’t neglect to also document the processes around them. To do this, ask yourself questions about things like when you’re billing clients, how long they have to pay you after you complete work, and what happens if a payment goes past due.
- Subcontracting/hiring process (advanced): If you’re just starting a new business, adding employees or subcontracting work may seem far off. But until you consider this possibility, your earnings will ultimately be limited by your own time and expertise. It’s a good idea to start thinking about the future now — documenting all the rest of your processes (and how to use specific tools) in the meantime so they’re easy to hand off.
Process-Oriented Tool Recommendations
HubSpot (freemium) for your CRM (customer relationship management tool). Using a CRM will help you keep track of prospects and clients and where you’re at in the sales process with each one. Specifically, a tool like Hubspot also offers useful functionality like email tracking.
Calendly (freemium) for meeting scheduling. There’s really nothing more inefficient than that annoying “What time works for you?” back and forth. Share your calendar availability with prospects and clients and set various meeting types (like a free consultation or client planning session) with a tool like Calendly.
#3: Proactively Seek Out Collaborators
While you’re learning all of these important things about how to start a social media marketing agency, it’s just as important to understand this:
Other freelancers and even other agencies aren’t your competition. There really is enough work out there for everyone.
That said, it’s important to specialize. Carving out a niche will also make it easier for others to recommend you when they know people looking for help.
Agencies can make money off each other by white labelling outside vendors’ services and by managing the client relationship — while the other party can set their own pricing and reduce their work around business development. It’s a win-win scenario!
But where can you find these collaborators as a social media marketing agency? Start with Facebook groups like Social Media Managers and The Daily Carnage. Then, look for local freelancer/industry groups if you’re craving an in-person connection with potential collaborators.
#4: Always be Learning
The only constant in social media marketing is change. If you want to provide the best possible social media management services for your clients, you need to set aside some time (and possibly money) to learn new skills and understand new social network features.
As you learn new things, test your knowledge with various social media certification programs (like Facebook’s Ad Certification: Blueprint). If you successfully pass, these certifications can also help signal to clients that you know what you’re doing.
Final Thoughts: How to Start a Social Media Marketing Agency: 4 Pre-Planning Steps
Now that you’ve read our comprehensive two-part series about how to start a social media marketing agency, all that’s left is finding your clients! We’ll be sharing strategies to help you with that aspect of agency life in a future article.
What would you add to our guide about how to start a social media marketing agency? Share your thoughts by tweeting at @TheSocialReport!
Maddy Osman is an SEO Content Strategist who works with clients like AAA, Automatic, Kinsta, and BigCommerce. Her background in WordPress web design contributes to a well-rounded understanding of SEO and how to connect brands to relevant search prospects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website and read her latest articles on Twitter @MaddyOsman.