With the massive number of people using social media on a daily basis, it’s a great place for business owners to reach potential customers. It also means learning how to start a social media marketing agency offers great income potential for anyone looking to pocket some extra cash.
Seriously, the coolest thing about the internet, is the onslaught of opportunities to make money. With a bit of direction, know-how, and ever-elusive time, someone who takes care of kids all day – shout out to you stay-at-home-parents! – can start a successful social media marketing agency with basically no start-up cash. Heck, you can even use an old laptop that used to belong to your game-obsessed 15-year-old.
It most certainly sounds too good to be true. And to be fair, the vast majority of people who try to start online businesses don’t make it. It takes persistence and a whole lot of hustle in your heart to really succeed, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, people do it every day, and they do it well from their dining room tables.
After reading that you’re probably like, “Uh, awesome. How do I start a social media marketing agency?”
Before you get the answers, we want to reiterate that it’s not always going to be easy, but it is worth it. If it’s what you want to do, of course. Or if you want to get paid to work in your pajamas while you fold your laundry. Totally up to you, haha.
What is a social media marketing agency, anyway?
So… a social media marketing agency can be a lot of things and do a lot of things. Super clear, right?
A lot of social media managers do a lot of the basic tasks that are required to upkeep social media, such as:
- Set up social media accounts
- Monitoring inboxes
- Make posts
- Respond to comments on posts
But also do things that are kind of public relations, like:
- Join groups and rep the company
- Develop relationships with customers and vendors
- Stay current on trends and follow them
- Increase follower counts and outreach overall
And then there’s the technical stuff, such as:
- Social media ads
- Big marketing plans and strategies
- Marketing analysis and reporting
Not all social media marketing agencies do all of these things. For example, we reviewed a great course on how to become a Pinterest VA a few weeks back. This course focuses on nothing but Pinterest, including optimization of posts and showing someone how to make a good couple of bucks on the side working on Pinterest exclusively.
So, when we say “social media marketing agency,” we’re talking about the broad spectrum of things under that umbrella and businesses that cover them all. However, any business that deals with one or more social media platforms can be considered a “social media agency.”
The requirements of a social media marketer
While social media marketing is for a lot of people, it isn’t for everyone. Here are a couple of things you should consider before you start hustlin’.
Know that social media gets ruined for you a little
Peeking behind the scenes of any one social media platform is a little disenchanting. When you start using social media for work instead of play, it becomes a whole new… playground, for a lack of a better term.
Seeing what goes into the ads you’re producing and what it takes to get new likes and followers can feel a bit mechanical. Honestly, the charm of the platform you choose can kind of fizzle out a bit.
Pinning to boards on Pinterest because you like recipes is fun and useful. Pinning because you need people to follow those boards and using Pinterest to grow a business is entirely different.
The same goes for running Facebook ads. You once went for status updates from high school friends you haven’t seen in 15 years, and now you’re running ads. Good news, the memes and puppy videos stay just as fresh.
Both of these uses of social media (work and pleasure) can be enjoyable but they’re enjoyable in super different ways. Money is nice and enjoyable, right?
Know that no matter who it is and where you are posting, you’ll need to develop a company’s voice properly
Good posts are good. Properly voiced posts are better.
For example, we use a fun-loving and entertaining tone here at LE, while trying to still be helpful in the information we present.
That tone isn’t for everyone, and you’ll need to learn how to focus your writing to sound like the company you’re trying to sound like. Are you sure you know who’s writing this post right now? Laptop Empires. That’s who.
You’ll need to get clever
Part of being a good social media marketer is having a lot of tools in your toolbelt. You can start with just the knowledge on how to do something, but you’ll absolutely have to develop those skills.
You’re going to run into issues; learn from them. You’re going to take on clients that have special and specific wants and needs; embrace them (within reason). Figure out several different approaches to your specialties so that you can always try something new. Take chances, pocket the knowledge, and get clever.
Why yes, we did swipe some of that from The Magic School Bus.
How to start a social media marketing agency in three steps
Step 1: Answer these questions
Questions are the key to your success, but you’ll have to ask the right ones. Here are a couple of our humble suggestions for step one.
Where are you going to get started?
Many of the hustlers we know focus on one piece of running a social media marketing company, like Facebook ads. Choose one aspect. Run with it. Don’t dip your ice cream cone into too many sprinkles. Learn your craft before moving onto learning and offering something new.
What do you know about social media?
You think you know how Facebook works? You probably have a good grip on what the company presents to the end-users, but maybe not the in-betweens. Social media platforms enjoy changing their rules and algorithms frequently, so following the ebb and flow of those changes will be part of your job.
Find a couple of giant influencers to follow. What do they post? What do they do? What do you think they could improve on? What kind of engagement are they getting? Learn the tools that you can use to get these sort of successful results too.
What service packages will you offer?
Are you going to offer full-suite services? Ad services? Are you going to sell sheep? Are you going to sell ads for people who sell sheep? Are you going to do ads at all or just find likes for people on Twitter, manage boards on Pinterest, or just good ol’ fashioned customer service packages?
What’s your pricing going to look like?
Your pricing is going to be one of the most important things to consider when you’re learning how to start a social media marketing agency. This isn’t only because you’re concerned about profits; rather, competitive pricing is important to show potential clients what you think you’re worth.
Honestly there is a whole article to be written about this, but for now know this: too cheap and you’ll attract the wrong clients. Too expensive and people will expect too much. You’ll have to find a nice medium (and it will probably be more than you expect).
Who do you have in your court?
When you start a business, you’re going to need people on your side. Now, they don’t all have to be experts, but you should have a couple who can help mentor you when you need it. Trust us – you’ll need it. Maybe not a ton, but you will.
Figure out who might be able to throw you some nugs and ask them if they can help. Most of the time they will. If you ask!
Step 2: Get your ducks in a row
It’s hard to cover all of the ducks you should have in a row, and not to mention trying to line up ducks sounds about as easy as herding cats. But if you just have to figure out how to get those fowl all lined up, here are things to start with.
Get yourself a business plan
Before you skip over this section, hear us out. We know a lot of folks think business plans are overrated and complicated but believe it or not, they are neither. Gasp!
The truth is that a business plan really is just a roadmap that shows you where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. While you’re probably not going to have massive startup costs with an online social media marketing agency – one of the perks! – you’re still going to need some basics. Because you’re working with so little, having those basics is super important.
How’s your internet connection? How are your WordPress design skills? Do you even have a computer? While you don’t need a ton of startup cash, a little goes a long way. Where is that coming from?
If that bores you, we have good news: information like your business name and URL and branding are often included in a business plan. Lots of folks find a lot of motivation and fun in designing those aspects. You want a dragon logo? Done. Put it in your business plan.
Get your OWN social media and website all done up pretty
No one, and I mean no one, is going to look at a Facebook advertiser’s page, see half-done elements and no recent posts and be like, “yeah, I wanna work with that guy.” Honestly, it’s better not to have a page at all at that point. Then at least no one can judge you before they meet you. And yes, they absolutely will.
Your online website and overall persona is like a store that’s always open. Even if you want to turn the lights off for the night, it’s pretty damn impossible. If someone really wants to know what was on a Facebook page or a website, they can use tools like the Wayback Machine and check it out.
Might as well make the best of it and make sure everything you’re presenting is spot-on because all of that online stuff will do the talking for you when you’re away. Make sure it’s saying the right things and not “get off my lawn” or “you sit on a throne of lies.”
Step 3. Find your clients
We’re going to throw you some client-finding nugs which we do a lot of in our course by the way, but first, we want to present one of our new golden rules:
Don’t Sell, Provide Value
If that doesn’t sound like music to your ears, you need to get some better taste in music because this tiny little phrase takes so much pressure off of you AND your clients.
Outreach is good, and you should be poking around for clients, at least at first. We all have to start somewhere, and that’s usually the somewhere that people choose, which is fine. However, in the long run, you’re going to get more business by providing true value to customers that come your way.
What’s the difference between selling and providing value?
Selling is trying to get someone to buy something. Providing value is showing them why they need it and you. The biggest benefit is that you can provide value to hundreds of people at a time and nurture them through a series of emails, messages, what have you. With selling, you have to focus on a single person.
A cars salesman can sell one car at a time. Even if he does his job well, he can’t really handle multiple transactions at once. However, by offering the value of sitting on your couch at home and offering no-nonsense pricing and the ability to completely avoid talking to a human ever, Carvana can sell hundreds of cars in a single hour. And they do.
This is going to be one of the main ways you get clients, but here are a few more practical (and quick) ways that people usually think about when they’re pounding the pavement for clients:
- Build ads. Why yes, as a social media marketing expert, you can build ads for your own business! Imagine that. And they work, too, especially on Facebook.
- Reach out to friends of friends. If there’s no one in your immediate circle that needs your services, ask your friends and family. They’re on your side and will try to find people for you to work with.
- Cold calling and emailing. This method sucks and we don’t recommend it. BUT, we do know a number of people who have found success with it, so it is an option for those of you who like to try everything.
- Join groups. There are tons of groups that could be useful to you for prospects. Local business owners, groups of folks in your niche, chambers of commerce, digital groups on Facebook. The possibilities are pretty endless.
No matter how you decide to go and get clients, know that it will be a tireless, consistent approach no matter what. There’s no one way to skin a cat – weren’t we herding them earlier? – and likewise, no one way to get a client, or make a business, or start a social media marketing agency. So hop to it and hustle your way there!
The final word on how to start a social media marketing agency
There are countless social media avenues you can go down when trying to start an agency. Some of these platforms flop after a few years (anyone remembers Friendster?). That’s why starting with a tried and true platform is really the way to go.
That’s why Facebook is a great bet for anyone wanting to start their own digital agency. With millions of potential leads at your fingertips and the baked-in knowledge you already have about Facebook, it’s an obvious choice.
Plus, big companies have been using Facebook to target customers for several years now. Small, local businesses need the kind of help and support a dedicated social media marketer can provide, giving them effective ad campaigns that help them compete with the big guys.
If you’re interested, our Facebook Side Hustle Course teaches you how to:
- How to set up a successful ad system on Facebook
- Find clients who are willing to pay for this service
- How to get those clients to say “yes” to your services
The other serious perk about Facebook is that the average value of a client is around $1,000/month. Once you get a good ad system set up for your clients (just takes a few hours a week), it basically runs on autopilot.