| Jun 27, 2023 | | 14 min read

7 key fundamentals of how to start a social media marketing agency


Starting your own social media marketing agency can be an exciting journey, but it can also be a stressful one if you don’t get yourself organized before you start. While operating a social media marketing agency gives you the opportunity to leverage your creative skills and strategic thinking, it also requires a solid foundation and an understanding of the guiding principles of this industry.

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In this post, we’ll lay out seven key fundamentals for how to start a social media marketing agency so you can create a solid foundation for your new business.

Getting started

Before starting on the groundwork, you’ll need to first make sure you understand what a social media marketing agency is and the services they typically provide. You’ll also need to make several important decisions:

  • Your agency’s niche: Decide what type of clients you’ll primarily serve. It’s typically best to think of specific industries you have some interest and expertise in, as well as the demand for social media marketing services in those industries when making your selection.
  • Your target market: Consider the size of business you’d generally like to serve. If you’re working with small businesses, will you focus on startups or established companies? Discover their typical budget, needs, pain points, and preferences by conducting market research.
  • Your value proposition: While 69% of businesses have established value propositions (Impact), only 2.2% of those value propositions are deemed useful by consumers (Invesp). To ensure your value proposition proves useful to potential clients, have it clearly explain how your service solves their most common pain points and why they should choose you over others on the market.
  • Your brand identity: Everything from your brand’s logo and colors to the way tone of voice it uses in social media and advertising says a ton about who your brand is and how it’s going to appeal to your target audience.


In addition to making these important decisions about your new social media agency, it’s also important to conduct some competitor research to find out what you’re up against. Use everything from Google searches to social media pages to check out other businesses serving the same type of clientele.

Key fundamentals for starting your social media marketing agency

As with any business, you need to take several essential steps in starting your social media marketing agency to ensure its legitimacy and success.

1. Build your team

Will your agency be a one-person operation, or will you hire a team? This decision should depend on your initial investment and what you can afford, as well as your need for additional manpower in the early stages of your agency.

If you plan to build a team, you’ll need to identify key roles and responsibilities. That means finding professionals in graphic design and copywriting at a minimum. You may also want to consider an accounting professional or a bookkeeper, as well as someone who specializes in sales to help you find and onboard new clients in your niche. If you don’t have the budget for a full team, consider hiring freelancers to fill the roles you can’t take on yourself and paying your salesperson or sales team on commission.

You’ll also want to establish means of communication between team members, such as a company intranet or chat tools such as Slack or Discord, as well as a strong team culture. Consider hosting company events, offering bonuses or incentives, and establishing guidelines for behavior in the office.

2. Set up your infrastructure

Before you start to take on clients, you’ll need to set up the infrastructure of your business. That means registering the agency with your state/province and acquiring any necessary business licenses. Decide if you’ll work virtually or if you’ll need to shop around for a physical office space. Additionally, you’ll need to determine what platforms, tools, or social media management software you plan to use to manage projects and collaborate on projects with other team members.

3. Develop your service offerings

Ensuring that your service offerings meet market demands and typical client needs is vital to your social media marketing agency’s success. Start by identifying the services that are in the highest demand within your target market, researching industry trends, and understanding client pain points. Don’t discount emerging social media platforms if you want to stay ahead of the curve.

Once you’ve determined which services you want to offer, consider packaging them into tiers to make them more accessible for clients with varying needs and budgets. Research industry standards and competitors’ pricing to determine a fair price for each tier or service you offer.

4. Build a strong online presence

Your online presence determines your credibility and helps you attract potential clients. You can help yourself gain visibility online by:

  • Creating a professional website: Build a website that’s user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Build it to serve as a central hub for your agency’s information by including a portfolio of work and a comprehensive service/package list. You can build credibility online by being transparent about your prices, as well.
  • Leverage social media platforms to showcase your expertise: Build professional profiles on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google Business Profile and maintain them by posting regularly and engaging with followers.
  • Generate high-quality content wherever possible: Create informative blog posts, publish white papers, and produce engaging infographics or videos. Provide value to your clients and other consumers to establish a high level of credibility in your industry.

5. Keys to creating your sales and marketing strategies

Your business can’t succeed without customers and without an effective sales and marketing strategy in place, you’d find it extremely hard to gain enough customers to keep your agency afloat. When you’re ready to start selling social media packages, consider employing these tactics:

  • Develop a sales funnel: Use your funnel to guide potential clients through the customer journey. Map out stages from awareness to conversion and identify different types of lead generation tactics for every stage. Your strategies should include content marketing, social media advertising, email campaigns, and search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Implement effective marketing campaigns: Craft compelling messages to highlight your social media marketing agency’s value proposition and ensure your messaging resonates with your audience by regularly analyzing engagement statistics.
  • Build strategic partnerships: Networking with other service providers in your industry can significantly boost your brand’s visibility and credibility.

6. Maintain and manage your client relationships

So, you’ve started your agency and you’re attracting clients, now, the key is to retain those clients and maintain mutually successful relationships.

One of the most important things you can do if you want long-lasting client relationships is to establish clear channels of communication. Ensure that your clients know how to reach you and that you’re always responsive to their feedback and inquiries. Provide them with regular updates on progress and always ask questions when you’re unsure of their expectations.

7. Keys to scaling and growing your agency

The ultimate goal for just about every agency owner is growth. Once you’ve established solid relationships with your clients, you’ll be ready to focus on scaling your agency. Take these steps to ensure growth at a steady pace:

  • Evaluate your performance often: Measure and evaluate your company’s performance frequently by looking at key sales, engagement, and share of voice metrics.
  • Identify opportunities for expansion: Whether it’s hiring additional salespeople or diversifying your service offerings, explore any and all reasonable opportunities to expand.
  • Ask for client feedback and referrals: If you’ve provided a client with great service, ask for a testimonial or referrals.

Tips for achieving success as a new social media marketing agency

As with any business, you need to take several important steps in starting your social media marketing agency to ensure its legitimacy and success.

1. Build a strong foundation

Every business needs a strong foundation, especially if it wants to successfully rise to the top of its industry. To lay that foundation, there are several things you need to do.

Define your unique selling proposition and target audience

Your unique selling proposition (USP) and your target audience are two key elements of your agency’s strategy.

Your USP is what sets you apart from the competition. It helps clients understand why they should choose your agency. To develop this, reflect on your strengths, whether those are your expertise in a specific niche, your approach, or customer service, and write a short statement explaining what your USP is.

You can identify your target audience by researching demographics, interests, and pain points of potential clients. Take time to truly understand their needs so you can tailor your services and messaging to resonate with them.

Develop a solid business plan

A well-thought-out business plan is crucial when you’re starting your social media marketing agency. Your business plan serves as a roadmap to success, as it defines your goals, strategies, and financial projections. It also outlines the purpose of your agency through its mission and vision, as well as the values that are most important to you as a business owner.

Include important details such as your services and their prices in the business plan for your social media agency, as well as your target market. Lastly, include a comprehensive financial section that discusses startup costs, revenue projections, and monthly/annual expenses.

Review your business plan often as your agency grows and revise as needed.

2. Establish credibility and expertise early on

If you establish credibility for your brand from the get-go, you’ll likely find yourself reaching revenue goals sooner than later. There are several ways you can go about showing off your social media marketing agency’s expertise before you’ve even taken on clients.

Thought leadership content

The best way to show off your social media expertise is by creating content for your own agency that engages and dazzles your audience. Maintain a strong online presence using the most relevant platforms for your niche and post high-quality content regularly.

You can also utilize blog posts, white papers, and even forums such as Reddit or Quora to share your expertise and build credibility online. Share your social media ideas for business through these mediums to help others recognize your abilities and direct them to your website or social media profiles to learn more.

Obtain certifications or industry qualifications

Certifications and industry qualifications are a valuable asset that can showcase your expertise and enhance your credibility. Certifications offered by Google and other organizations can demonstrate your knowledge of social media and search engine optimization. Industry associations can also help you gain credibility with peers and potential clients.

Seek out speaking and writing opportunities

Lend your writing chops or industry knowledge to industry publications and conferences. Speaking on relevant topics at marketing events is a great way to network and get your name out there, and the same can be said for earning bylines in publications within your industry or niche.

3. Build a strong portfolio

Once you’ve completed work for several clients, you’ll be able to put together a portfolio of work to display your talents to potential clients. When you’re a new social media marketing agency, finding work to build up your portfolio can be a challenge. If you’re struggling to find clients, try offering a deep discount or pro bono services to a select few clients to help get things started.

Focus on exceptional results

Your first several clients can make or break your brand. When you’re starting a social media marketing agency, it’s imperative to deliver exceptional results for every client but that’s especially true when talking about the first few. Posting high-quality content that increases engagement and gets results is the best way to start generating positive testimonials that will add credibility to your agency.

Update your portfolio often

It’s not uncommon for interested potential clients to keep an eye on what you’re doing before they complete the sales journey. As you produce new work, continue to update your portfolio with new examples and case studies to keep them interested and show diversity in your capabilities.

4. Continue networking and building relationships

Networking with other industry professionals can be a great way to earn referrals when others’ have overflowing client lists or wishes they’re unable to fulfill. There are several ways you can network with other digital marketing professionals.

Attend industry events

Conferences, workshops, and even webinars hosted by industry associations or other agencies can help you gain contacts within your industry. Joining professional organizations such as marketing associations or guilds can help you stay in the loop about upcoming events and meet other professionals who might be interested in building peer relationships.

Collaborate with other agencies

Don’t be afraid to work with other agencies on client projects, especially when the services they offer complement your own. Another agency in your network may offer website development or blog writing services for a client who requires social media management. Take advantage of these opportunities to make industry connections, gain new clients, and build your professional portfolio.

Leverage social media platforms

Put time aside each day to interact online as your social media marketing agency. Follow other agencies and freelancers in your city or state, like and comment on their posts, and engage in other ways wherever it seems reasonable.

You can also utilize social media to seek out contacts in your specific niche. For example, if your agency provides social media management for real estate professionals, connect with Realtors on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. A huge part of social media marketing is taking time to interact online—without this step, expect limited engagement on your own social posts and as a result, limited online exposure.

5. Always deliver exceptional customer service

It goes without saying that customer service is a crucial component for any business, but many business owners don’t realize that providing great service goes beyond being friendly and smiling in face-to-face meetings.

Keep in mind that 68% of consumers are willing to pay more for services provided by brands that offer good customer service (HubSpot). Furthermore, 78% of consumers have backed out of a purchase due to poor customer service (Glance). That just goes to show how important it is to your social media marketing agency to provide customer service that above and beyond what your competitors provide.

Prioritize communication

Don’t just communicate—communicate openly and transparently with your clients. If there’s a delay in their project, tell them. Let them know why it’s delayed and when they can expect it to be completed.

Give them the tools they need to get in touch when they need to, as well, whether that’s through email, text message, phone, or direct message. Respond to client messages promptly.

Under-promise and over-deliver

When discussing expectations with your clients, be realistic. Don’t promise anything you’re not confident you can deliver on and be mindful of you time when creating social media calendars or project schedules. The best way to ensure your clients are satisfied is to promise less than you’re able to do and deliver more than what they’re expecting.

Offer ongoing support

Your clients are relying on your expertise when it comes to social media so when they have questions, concerns, or feedback, be responsive. Reply to their inquiries and messages as quickly as possible and be prepared to explain your processes or make adjustments to strategies at their request.

6. Stay updated and adapt to changes

The marketing industry is growing and changing almost daily—especially when it comes to social media. New platforms often emerge and viral trends change daily, sometimes hourly. As a social media expert, it’s your job to keep up with those changes and trends.

Conduct frequent research

Knowing what’s trending is part of your job. Spend a few minutes each morning checking out popular hashtags, music, memes, and reels and brainstorm how you can incorporate them into your clients’’ campaigns for maximum exposure.

Attend professional development courses

To keep up to date with changes in technology, including Google and Meta algorithms, it’s best to seek out continuing education opportunities and professional development courses as often as you can.

Embrace change

If you want to operate a successful social media marketing agency, you have to keep with the times. Follow trends, explore new platforms, and adapt your strategies as needed. Remember, it’s okay to take risks once in a while to get likes and comments for your clients because at the end of the day, engagement and exposure are the reason they’re paying you to manage their social media accounts.

Frequently asked questions

How much money do I need to start a social media marketing agency?

The cost of starting a social media marketing agency can vary exceptionally depending on the cost of licensing in your state or province, as well as your staffing needs, office location, and software requirements.

How do I find clients for my social media marketing agency?

You can start by networking with business leaders in your chosen niche and letting them know you’re available for hire. Also consider offering free services such as a social media audit or advertising on platforms such as Fiverr and LinkedIn to gain exposure.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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