Social media marketing is one of the highest demand services in the market right now. Advertising and creating an online image for anything is an art, and it takes a dedicated professional to do it.
Of course, you already know this—that’s why you’re putting together a social media marketing agency, to expand your craft into this already big, lucrative business.
Take a look at these seven tips on how to start your social media business, and maybe expand it into a booming social media marketing network.
Who knows, with a bit of guidance, you could be managing the next biggest social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and beyond.
1. Start Small
Don’t be afraid to start small. Keeping things manageable is how a small business succeeds, especially at the beginning when you’re running things solo or with only a handful of workers.
Don’t go trying to hook large clients with heavy workloads from the outset. Keep it small and local and pick up some other small businesses as clients. The similar workspace and overhang will mesh well between two small businesses, and you’ll be able to cooperate with your clients on a more personal level.
Your agency doesn’t have to stay small forever, but it’s better not to bite off something too big at the beginning. Small clients can help hone your craft and brand and will provide excellent examples for future clients of your successes.
Devoting your time to one or a few smaller clients will give you the time and energy to make sure your social media marketing is the strongest you can bring to the table.
2. Set Goals
Any small start-up needs to set explicit goals for itself. This includes how large you’re willing to go. Businesses tend to shift in a social climate when it goes from working by yourself and for yourself to being a multi-employee company, therefore it’s both a financial and social change you’ll be undergoing.
As you grow and manage more clients, you’ll need more people, and that adds the responsibility of managing employees to your list. If you have reservations about managing other workers or growing too large, then start with tracking your own limits from the beginning.
To avoid disappointment and unhappy clients, start by setting realistic expectations from the get-go. A lot of clients, especially those who are new to social media marketing, will expect to see ROI fairly quickly. You need to make it clear that if they are looking for immediate ROI, there are other, more effective ways to do this and social isn’t always the best channel.
Since everything is agreed and signed off on up-front, as long as you can deliver progress towards the agreed-upon goals, you can be almost certain that you will have happy clients who are willing to recommend your service to others. You can also use this as a tactic, later on, to show your clients what you could potentially achieve with increased budgets.
When you’ve reached a level that you feel peaks your performance and ability to provide for your clients, re-evaluate if that level is both sustainable and lucrative enough.
If it’s not, reconsider expansion; your self-starter could be so much more with some extra hands. Big is not necessarily better, but smaller doesn’t mean sustainable either.
3. Minimize Expenses
Minimizing your initial expenses is going to be one of the most important things at the start of a small business. Opening a business is a risky move, and seldom does it leave much room for waste in your budget. So, look for areas you can free up some precious extra money.
A simple first step is with electricity costs. Plenty of office spaces leave lights on in every room, regardless of occupancy. Just switch off the lights as you leave and your energy bill will already look a lot lighter. Likewise, replace the bulbs in your light fixtures with energy-efficient bulbs. This reduces their energy consumption by a massive amount.
As for all of your tech, invest in some power strips. Frequently a large chunk of your bill will come from “phantom energy,” or the power being used by computers and other equipment while they’re still plugged in, but not in use.
Power strips and surge protectors are a good way to have a single switch to shut off everything when it’s not in use, like at the end of the workday.
Also, consider outside your building. If you have the ability, some landscaping can do well to reduce energy usage on things like air conditioning and heating. Strategically placed trees for shade on your windows can significantly cool the inside of your building or obstruct wind on colder days.
4. Use Your Resources
Take advantage of all the resources available to you. Some cities have a local Small Business Development Center, also called the SBDC, to help new businesses get off on the right foot. They offer free information and assistance to those in any stage of the business creation process, whether you’re just now writing a plan or are already running day-to-day operations.
Likewise, SCORE is another organization designed to help mentor and encourage small business owners. Both of these organizations have counterparts around the world, so if you’re not in the United States or the UK, look into the revenue services’ affiliates in your area.
Surprisingly, the taxation department of governments are often very supportive of small business ventures and sometimes offer free accounting and record-keeping educational courses. Even local governments provide classes or programs to help the growth of small business, so take a look into your area’s government programs.
5. Be Unique
When trying to present yourself to potential clients, identify what makes you unique and superior to the competition. Today’s market is saturated with social media marketing firms; they’re simply one of the biggest and fastest growing industries out there. This means you have to work extra hard to present a unique and interesting approach to your services.
One of the better ways to frame this is as a solution to a problem they didn’t know they had. Don’t bill yourself as an addition to a business, bill yourself as a solution to a problem, whether they knew it was a problem or not.
For social media marketing, call this a lack of internet presence or approachability. Your goal is to provide a service that fills that void. Use previous work as examples and show how your business can capture the individual voice and tone of the client.
It’s okay to focus on a singular style or to show a broad range, but any pitch needs to be tailored to the audience. With that being said, don’t be afraid of failure. You can’t please every potential client.
Sometimes your brand just doesn’t mesh well with another, and that’s acceptable. Use it as a learning experience to direct your particular flavor of social media marketing to better-fit clients.
The goal is to build a client base that working with comes naturally.
6. Plan Ahead
Plan for struggles and the worst. A small business venture is an investment, both monetarily, but also mentally. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. While it takes knowledge, skill, and connections, there’s also a little bit of luck and random chance.
Things can be slow and rough at the start, particularly when fishing for a client base. Unfortunately, nearly four out of five small businesses go out of business before reaching the two-year mark. Don’t let that discourage you, strive to be in the exceptional fourth of that statistic.
Be sure to have a support network, whether it’s a group of loyal friends or your family. Anything to ease the mental and physical strain of running a business that may feel unrewarding at times. That sort of stress can easily bleed into your work ethic and can drive away new and willing clients or alienate current ones.
Self-care is incredibly important for something as personal as running a small business. Keep spirits high, and your success is sure to follow.
Make sure to have a contingency in place for the event of actual failure, whether it be your expectation of getting a job on the fly or living off savings until you can. It’s not fun to think about failure but always keep the possibility of having no income in mind; it’s a very real possibility in the world of small business ventures.
7. Spread the News
The final, and perhaps most important tip for starting a social media marketing firm, is to talk about it and advertise yourself. Let everyone know what you do. Important connections can come out of the strangest places.
This can also provide a bit of familiarity by word of mouth. Don’t give lackluster answers at social events when you’re asked: “What do you do?” Provide a confident and thorough answer, though keep it short. Make sure any introduction of you, or your business, include your name, your company’s name, and the sort of business—social media marketing.
Responses may vary, but it may hook the right people who will want to know more about social media marketing. Other businesses that don’t currently manage their social media could be prime opportunities for clients, as you’ll be able to educate them about and provide for their social media marketing needs.
Even if you aren’t an extroverted person, learn to be engaging and personable. Practice your introduction and perfect an elevator pitch for maximum effect.
Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be starting the world’s next successful social media marketing firm. As with any small business startup, it’s going to be hard work and long hours, but you’ll be prepared for all of it!
Just remember that dedication and diligence are the keys, especially for social media marketing, where competition is fierce and ever-growing.
Even as everything comes together and it seems like smooth sailing ahead, proceed with caution and never forget the struggle that got you there. Then hopefully you’ll be prepared for the best and the worst.