How To Start a Social Media Marketing Agency

Social Media Marketing
How To Start a Social Media Marketing Agency
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: October 22, 2023

If you're skilled in crafting targeted social media campaigns and understand the nuances of different platforms, a world of opportunity is waiting for you. Brands are actively looking for experts who can help them break through and succeed.

In this article, we'll explain how to start a social media marketing agency step by step.

1. Conduct Market Research

Before diving into the social media marketing (SMM) world, you must understand the market you're entering. Knowing your competitors, their services, and how they price them will give you a clearer picture of what you're up against. Market research also helps spot gaps you could fill to gain an advantage over competitors.

Steps to Conduct Market Research:

  • Identify your target audience: Know who you want to serve — small businesses, startups, or large corporations. Each has different needs and budgets.
  • Analyze competitors: Look at other agencies that offer similar services. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do they market themselves?
  • Analyse services gaps: Find out what services are in high demand but have low offerings and use it as an opportunity to specialize and stand out.
  • Inform about pricing strategies: Research how similar services are priced and set competitive yet profitable pricing for your services.

Understand the latest SMM trends and tools: Knowing what's current will help you offer relevant and up-to-date services.

By conducting thorough market research, you'll be better prepared to offer needed and wanted services and increase your chances of success.

Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here

2. Find Your Niche

After you've conducted your market research, the next vital step in starting a social media marketing agency is to identify your niche.

A niche is your area of specialization within the broader field of SMM, and it defines the clients you’ll work with. A niche shouldn’t be just about what you're good at; it’s also about finding a segment of the underserved market. For example, you can focus on cosmetic surgery, house-renovating companies, or luxury goods retailers.

Consider the profitability of your chosen niche. Use your market research to gauge demand and set competitive and fair pricing. By carving out a niche, you set yourself apart from general SMM agencies, making it easier to attract and retain clients who seek specialized expertise.

3. Develop a Business Plan

A business plan is a document that serves as your roadmap, outlining your business goals, target market, competition, financial projections, and marketing strategies. A well-thought-out business plan helps you stay focused and organized.

Your business plan should contain the following components:

  • Executive summary: A brief overview of your SMM agency, including the mission statement, business structure, and what makes your agency unique.
  • Business goals and objectives: Clear, measurable goals that you aim to achieve, such as revenue targets or client acquisition numbers.
  • Market research: The information you obtained during the first step — specifics of your target market, customer needs, competitors and their offerings, and how your agency fills a gap in the market.
  • Services: A detailed list of the services you plan to offer, including pricing strategies and any packages or promotions.
  • Marketing plan: Your strategies for attracting and retaining clients. For example, SEO, social media advertising, content marketing, and more.
  • Operational plan: How your agency will function day-to-day, including employees, contractors, and the tools required for the job.
  • Financial plan: An estimate of your expenses, revenue, and profitability. If you're seeking external investments, outline how much you need and how you plan to use it.

4. Build the Necessary Skills

Understanding social media platforms is not enough to successfully run a social media marketing agency; you'll need to acquire core skills. These skills will help you offer valuable services to your clients and manage and grow your agency effectively.

Firstly, you must understand social media algorithms, paid advertising, and analytics. Being able to interpret data and adjust strategies accordingly is crucial for delivering results. You should also be proficient in content creation, from writing to creating eye-catching visuals.

Secondly, client management and communication skills are essential for an SMM agency. You'll often need to explain complex strategies in simple terms and manage expectations. Articulating your ideas clearly and listening to client feedback is key to success.

Lastly, don't underestimate the importance of business skills like financial management, project management, and sales. Even the most creative social media campaign won't sustain your agency if you can't manage budgets or lead a team effectively.

By investing time in building these skills, you're setting the stage for a successful social media marketing agency that offers comprehensive services and stands out in a competitive market.

5. Determine What Services You Will Provide

After perfecting your skills and understanding your niche, the next step to starting a social media marketing company is to decide on the range of services you'll offer. This decision should align with your expertise and your target market's needs. Offering a well-curated set of services can make your agency more appealing to potential clients, as it shows that you specialize in certain areas and can deliver high-quality results.

You might consider offering one or a combination of the following services:

  • Social media management
  • Social media audits
  • Social media SEO
  • Content creation
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Community management
  • Email marketing
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6. Set Your Pricing and Packages

As an SMM agency, you’ll have three main pricing models to choose from:

  • Monthly retainer: In this model, clients pay a fixed monthly fee to retain the agency's services. It ensures a consistent revenue stream for the agency and allows the client to have ongoing access to the agency's expertise. The scope of work is usually defined in advance, and the fee remains the same each month regardless of the amount of work done.
  • Hourly rate: In this model, the agency charges clients based on the hours spent on their project. The hourly rate is often used for consulting services or when the scope of a project is not clearly defined at the outset. The agency keeps track of the time spent on tasks and bills the client accordingly.
  • Project-Based: This pricing structure is used for specific, one-time projects. The agency and the client agree on a fixed price for completing a particular task. Payments can be structured in various ways, such as a percentage upfront and the rest upon completion. This model is often used for campaign launches, video productions, or rebranding.

You can also charge for your services in packages. For example, a basic package might include social media management and content creation, while a premium package could add on paid advertising campaigns and detailed analytics reports. For more insights on pricing for social media marketing services, refer to the social media marketing costs guide.

7. Create a Portfolio

To get potential clients to invest in your SMM services, you'll need to show them what you're capable of. A well-crafted portfolio will showcase your skills, past work, and areas of expertise.

Your portfolio should include examples of successful social media campaigns you've managed, content you've created, and any other services you offer, like analytics reports or community engagement strategies. Use case studies to highlight each project's challenges and solutions, emphasizing specific results and including key performance indicators (KPIs).

Include client testimonials or references to lend credibility to your work. Make your portfolio easily accessible through your agency's website.

If you're just starting and don't have a portfolio to showcase your work, offering your services for free or at a discounted rate to friends, family, or local businesses can help you build experience and create case studies for your portfolio. This initial sacrifice can pay off in the long run by providing valuable examples of your work that you can show prospective clients.

8. Hire the Right People for the Job

As your social media marketing agency grows, you'll likely need to expand your team. Hiring the right people will maintain the quality of your work and your agency's reputation.

When starting a social media marketing agency, you might need generalists who can do multiple tasks. However, as you scale, consider hiring content, analytics, and PPC specialists to enhance your agency's expertise. While prioritizing technical, don’t neglect soft skills; communication, adaptability, and teamwork is just as important as technical proficiency.

9. Develop Your Marketing Strategy

You'll need a solid marketing strategy to attract clients to your SMM agency. Start by identifying the channels that will most effectively reach your potential clients. This could include social media platforms, where you can showcase your expertise, or industry blogs and forums where your target audience may seek an SMM agency. Don't underestimate online and offline networking, as word-of-mouth can get the word out about your agency.

Marketing strategies you can employ to gain clientele include:

  • Social media advertising
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer collaborations
  • Public relations (PR)
  • Local SEO and Google My Business

Combine these strategies to attract the clients that best fit your agency and set the stage for long-term success.

10. Pitch Clients

Determine which businesses could benefit from your services. Use your network, social media, and even cold emailing to contact decision-makers. Prepare a tailored pitch for each potential client, focusing on how your agency can solve their unique challenges. Use data and case studies from your portfolio to back up your claims and establish credibility.

Follow up diligently but respectfully, understanding that decision-making processes can take time. Once you secure a client, deliver exceptional service to meet their expectations. Satisfied clients can become long-term contracts and are more likely to refer you to other businesses.

How To Start a Social Media Marketing Agency: Final Thoughts

From the initial steps of conducting market research to the critical phase of pitching to clients, every stage is important for your agency's success. Remember that your agency's long-term viability will largely depend on your ability to stay ahead of ever-changing social media trends. Your team, expertise, and the unique value you offer clients will also be deciding factors.

Starting a social media marketing company requires skills, timing, and a bit of entrepreneurial spirit. In a market that's growing and commanding significant investment — evidenced by the fact that, on average, 32% of the total marketing budget will be invested in social media during 2023 — there's never been a better time to get started.

How To Start a Social Media Marketing Agency FAQs

1. What skills do I need to start a social media marketing agency?

To start a social media marketing agency, you’ll need the following skills:

  • Social media platforms expertise
  • Communication
  • Writing and curating
  • Creativity
  • Project management
  • Marketing fundamentals
  • Flexibility
  • Strategic thinking
  • Community management
  • Analytical skills
  • Social media listening
  • Branding
  • Time management
  • Networking

2. How profitable is a social media marketing agency?

Given the huge demand for social media marketing services and the potential for steady income from monthly retainers, the profitability of a social media marketing agency can be highly encouraging. The industry has experienced strong growth, as shown by the 19.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) that helped the global social media market rise from $193.52 billion in 2022 to $231.1 billion in 2023. However, location, level of expertise, and the variety of services provided can significantly influence an agency's earnings.

Get connected with the right SMM agency for your project.
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