Social media is a convenient way for people to connect with each other and share thoughts and ideas. For marketers, the concept represents a gold mine for potential customer engagement opportunities, and with good reason.
- There were roughly 3.04 billion active social media users worldwide in 2019.
- The average user spends about two hours on social media every day.
- Ninety percent of these users connect with brands or retailers they see on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
- Seventy-seven percent of Americans have at least one social media profile.
These numbers represent a massive audience for businesses to pursue, and a greater number of organizations are realizing the reach to current and potential customers that social media can provide. For example, more than 70 million businesses have a Facebook page; considering the social media giant boasts roughly 2.6 billion monthly active users, that’s a lot of potential eyeballs to attract.
However, with each passing year, there seem to be more social media platforms that scoop up new users looking for the next new way to connect with others, expanding a market whose older platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, still tap into large market segments. Social media giants like YouTube and Twitter attract roughly 2 billion and 326 million monthly active users, respectively. They’re joined by platforms like Instagram, which has 1 billion monthly active users, and Snapchat, which has 229 million daily active users.
The presence of these social media platforms and their respective audiences has transformed the marketing landscape. It’s become increasingly important for organizations to develop marketing strategies that optimize the ability to tap into the robust social media audience.
This can be a daunting task. Each platform requires a unique marketing strategy. Plus, new platforms can alter the market rapidly: TikTok, for instance, jumped from 3.9 million American users to 14.3 million from March 2017 to March 2019.
Because of this, social media marketing agencies and social media managers have emerged to provide companies with assistance creating marketing strategies that harness the potential that social media platforms have to offer. For savvy marketing professionals, learning how to start a social media marketing agency is an excellent way to forge a unique, exciting career path.
The Steps for Starting a Social Media Marketing Agency
Marketing entrepreneurs often create their own marketing agencies, which naturally allows them to use their marketing skills and strategies on their own terms. As the need for effective social media marketing continues to grow and evolve, marketing pros may consider building an agency strictly around social media. While this pursuit can be exciting and ultimately rewarding, certain unique steps must be taken to approach the concept effectively.
Step 1: Find Your Focus
The first step involves determining the precise focus of your agency. This can be an intricate process built upon several determining factors, such as the following:
- What social media platforms to work with
- What industry or industries you want your agency to connect with
- The type of customer you want to specialize in targeting
Taking these initial steps allows you to create focused, agency-building strategies. This can lead to a more efficient start to your agency, as it can eliminate the guesswork that comes with figuring things out on the fly. However, these strategies should be built with the ability to make adjustments as your agency does grow, to account for factors like emerging social media platforms.
Step 2: Build a Business Plan
A successful business plan serves as a blueprint for transforming an idea into a smoothly run operation. It can entice prospective investors to provide funding to help turn your business concept into a functioning social media marketing agency. It can also help reinforce your belief in your startup’s viability. Because of this, building a business plan requires a high level of strategic planning to ensure that your plan stands out.
For instance, it’s smart to make sure your plan includes a few unique distinctions that sets your business apart from its competition. In this case, though, it’s not enough that you build a plan around a distinct search engine optimization (SEO) strategy or early adaptation of a new platform on the rise. You need to be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of each differentiator to attract business.
It’s also important to establish a budget concept designed to grow your business and maintain a certain level of profitability. Some of the strategies built into this concept can include determining office infrastructure and operational costs like payroll and employee benefits.
Developing a business plan is a complex process. Here are a few resources that can help:
- Write Your Business Plan: A guide from the U.S. Small Business Association
- Forbes, How to Create a Business Plan
- How to Write the Perfect Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide
Step 3: Secure Financing and Maintain Operational Support
Obtaining capital will help you establish a larger foundational presence when your social media marketing agency, as it can help give you the financial means necessary to invest in advertising, office space, and operational maintenance. It will also be important to carefully consider the costs of recruiting, hiring, and paying full time employees; many agencies employ freelance and contract talent, which can save money and allow for flexibility during periods of growth as well as contraction.
Step 4 : Build an Effective Team
A trusted team of creatives can be crucial to creating effective marketing campaigns for your clients. This can include a wide range of content creators, such as copywriters, photographers, and graphic designers, and it can also consist of people who excel at behind-the-scenes work like accounting and information technology. The need for expanding your team may occur as your business grows and evolves.
Step 5: Recruitment of Customers
It’s vital to have strong customer recruitment and retainment strategies in place as soon as you’ve established your business. These strategies should be consistent with your agency’s philosophies and values. They should also be highly targeted so you can optimize your capacity to pursue the clientele most likely to be interested in your services.
Managing a Social Media Marketing Team
As more businesses realize the importance of social media as a tool to connect with customers — particularly millennials and Generation Z — a rising number of companies are reaching out to social media management agencies to help optimize their reach. This is good news if you own such an agency, but it’s also accompanied by the pressure to make sure your employees are up to the task. This can often go beyond making sure they’re adept at using the platform your company touts as its speciality.
For instance, it’s important to train your team to learn how to adapt their voice to align with the principles and values of your client. This is an element that should be monitored closely — a casual feed for a company with a serious tone may look jarring and inauthentic.
Additionally, it’s essential to ensure that your team has solid customer service skills. An increasing number of social media users want or expect engagement from a company’s social media feed, and this includes handling customer service issues. As such, it’s important that your team knows how to respond to such instances in a professional manner that not only reflects the customer’s values, but also your philosophies.
It’s also key to make sure to match up your clients with your employees based on the latter’s skill set. If a company wants their social media feed to feature a more robust keyword presence, you should assign a team member who specializes in keyword optimization instead of the employee who is strong in multimedia creation.
Tips for Success
To produce effective content, it’s important for social media marketing agency managers and owners to make sure their team is current with various social and cultural trends and news. This way, the content they produce in the context of the campaign can remain fresh and relevant. It can also allow a company to retain a proper sense of social and cultural awareness, which can be critical: A post that comes across as culturally ignorant or insensitive can cause a company to experience pushback from current and potential customers, and could cost your firm a valued client.
In addition to keeping up with social and cultural trends, a social media manager and their team must also keep up with the trends concerning social media platforms, such as platform popularity and usage by demographic group.
Effectively studying these trends can make it easier for your social media marketing agency to evolve its strategies as new and popular social media platforms emerge. This can help your agency optimize a company’s desired customer reach smoothly and organically. For this to work, it’s vital that you train your team on learning the ins and outs of these new platforms as they develop. It’s just as critical that your team learns how your clientele plans to utilize the platforms.
A Look at Certifications
Social media agencies can encourage and empower employees to gain industry certifications to further demonstrate social media skills to clients. There are several certifications to choose from, including those specializing in specific platforms.
Twitter Flight School offers modules that can help social media managers advance their ability to integrate Twitter Ads, video, and effective content planning into their Twitter-based strategies.
Facebook Blueprint can help enrollees take a deep dive into the platform’s mechanics to gain advanced knowledge in audience targeting and ad management. It also offers courses in Facebook’s sister platform, Instagram.
LinkedIn Learning offers specialized courses that cover specific aspects of social media, such as handling social media for nonprofit organizations.
Hootsuite Academy allows enrollees to enhance their knowledge of social advertising and content marketing strategies, as well as tactics to grow a unique voice in a community.
Boot Camp Digital’s social media certification allows social media managers to build knowledge in marketing techniques across an ever-evolving array of social media platforms.
Effective Social Media Management Strategies
Social media managers should establish goals with their clients, such as improved reach to a certain demographic or integration of a new social media platform in the context of an existing strategy. Once the goal is set, they must then develop a plan to achieve it, such as determining a target date and the resources needed.
Creating this plan involves analyzing the market to track platform performance. Analysis can also spot social media user trends, which can help social media managers home in on key demographics. Additionally, analyzing the social media strategies of a client’s competition can provide the insight needed to create differentiators that can help a client stand out from the crowd.
Market analysis can help social media managers make well-informed decisions. These decisions give them enough flexibility to allow easy integration of cutting-edge platforms into an existing campaign, which can further improve the reach to the target consumer.
Additionally, it’s important to develop effective communication strategies with clients, sharing the details behind your strategy as well as the campaign’s goals. Effective communication will also eliminate the risk of misunderstanding or ambiguity between you and the client.
Essential Social Media Manager Tools
Social media manager is a complex role built around communicating the right message to the right audience on the right platform at the right time. For instance, a social media post congratulating a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete in the middle of your firm’s Olympic-themed marketing campaign will gain attention and stir up positive feelings among potential clientele. However, this is a sophisticated process that requires social media managers to multitask.
Fortunately, several social media manager tools have emerged. Each tool carries a unique approach to helping social media managers handle the marketing campaign strategies they build for various platforms. At the same time, they’re all designed with the same goal in mind: to help companies maximize the effectiveness of their social media marketing campaign strategies.
Hootsuite’s social media management platform allows users to schedule social media posts, monitor social media activity, and analyze key social media metrics across multiple platforms.
Buffer is a social media scheduler tool that enables managers to compose and queue posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Sprout Social allows social media managers to view and manage up to five social profiles, tracks analytical data concerning social content, and uses paid promotion tools to bump Facebook posts.
Planable’s cloud-based model allows social media managers to schedule content and integrate emojis, active hashtags, and other interactive elements into their posts.
Sendible’s platform for agencies enables social media managers to track and manage multiple social media accounts for multiple clients.
Writing an Effective Social Media Management Proposal
Communication is the foundation in building a solid relationship between a social media management agency and its clientele. It’s important for social media managers to write clear, concise proposals.
There are a few key strategies to keep in mind while writing a social media management proposal. These strategies include the following:
- Provide written detailed analysis of the client’s needs.
- Provide the client with a strategy marked by goals that address the client’s needs.
- Give a detailed description of the strategy’s scope of work.
- Include prior examples of your social media management work, where possible.
- Break down the terms of the work agreement with the client.
Establishing Fair Social Media Management Pricing
A social media marketing agency aims to generate profits. One of the key factors behind reaching this goal is to establish a financially efficient pricing strategy that creates client value as it generates profit. It’s a delicate strategy built on the following essential components:
- Location of service. It’s important to ensure your price structure is consistent with the price structures of the competition within your determined market reach. This will allow you to provide competitive quotes and help you gain new business.
- Level of experience. If you employ a relatively newer staff, consider keeping your price range in line with competitors that share a similar level of market visibility. However, if you are a new firm that opens with several veteran employees peeled from other competitors, you may be able to implement a higher price structure.
- Fair pricing model. It’s important to set pricing for your social media management services that’s equitable for you and your clients. This can include the creation of pricing tiers for additional services or different price structures for different social media platforms based on the platform’s consumer reach potential.
Marketing for the 21st Century
Social media continues to draw a wide variety of potential customers. As new platforms like TikTok emerge, the market generated by this new landscape can change rapidly. This can overwhelm businesses that aren’t equipped to use the medium to its full potential. It can also catch the owner of a marketing firm off guard if they’re not adequately prepared to offer an evolving strategy.
The roles of social media managers and social media marketing agencies are poised to be increasingly important in helping organizations optimize their marketing goals. By focusing on social media’s shifting array of platforms, social media managers and owners of social media marketing agencies alike can build effective strategies that account for market shifts and their effects on the desired target audiences. This knowledge not only translates to marketing power but also sets the foundation for one of the most attractive ways an individual can use marketing skills in a professional capacity .
As the demand for effective social media marketing campaigns continues to expand, marketing professionals will increasingly focus on developing the skills needed to harness the robust potential of social media platforms. Marketing entrepreneurs who channel strong leadership, customer service, communication, and technology capabilities toward launching a social media marketing agency have the opportunity to forge a unique, rewarding career path.