How to Start a Social Media Management Company

Get paid to Tweet, Pin, and Share

Image shows a phone with social media icons on it, a mouth speaking, two envelopes that indicate Facebook and LinkedIn, and a megaphone aimed at a group of four people. Text reads: "Tips for a successful social media management company: determine which platforms you'll use; creatively capture the client's voice; offer several packages; build your own following"

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019

Social media started out as just a fun way to connect with family and friends, but it's grown into an affordable, vital marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes. Many businesses are overwhelmed by all the tasks that go into managing multiple messages across several social media accounts, and they're hiring experts to take care of all this for them.

Starting a social media management business might be a good fit for you if you enjoy tweeting, pinning, and sharing.

What Do Social Media Managers Do?

Similar to virtual assistants, social media managers offer a variety of services depending on their expertise and their clients’ needs. Services can include:

  • Develop marketing strategies based on client goals
  • Social media account setup
  • Posting graphics and text on behalf of clients
  • Staying current and sharing trends and news relevant to the client’s business
  • Increase the number of the client's followers
  • Community facilitation to the client's target market
  • Customer service for the client
  • Marketing analysis

The Advantages of Social Media Management

There are many good reasons to consider starting a social media management business. You'll be paid to use social media, which can be great if it's something you already enjoy doing. And it requires little investment or equipment to get started, especially if you already have a computer and internet service. You can run the business from home, or anywhere else with internet access.

You can focus on the social media sites that you know best instead of having to know every single social media platform. The need for social media managers continues to grow as more solo-preneurs, freelancers, and small businesses outsource this task.

The Disadvantages of Social Media Management

Of course, there are a few downsides to starting a social media management business, as well.

Not all businesses understand the power of social media. You might have to sell them on the benefits you can provide. And you'll probably have to invest in some tools that you don't already have, such as scheduling services, royalty-free graphics, and graphics editing software.

You represent the company when you're doing social media for others, not yourself, so you must act on your client's behalf based on its tone and attitude, not your own. 

You'll have to stay on top of changes in policies, algorithms, and other aspects of each social media platform so your efforts on behalf of your clients continue to deliver results.

You'll need an understanding of how to engage your clients' target audience, as well as the ability to create graphics that will attract those people to the posts in the first place.

How to Start a Social Media Management Company

Becoming a social media manager requires experience more than education. Courses in social media management are available, but you should also do a little studying and research on your own.

You should understand social media as a marketing tool. It’s one thing to get a bunch of followers to view a "cat tricks" YouTube feed, and it’s quite another to build a following for a business. Social media marketing is different from traditional marketing, which is why many businesses struggle with it. Social media is all about having an interesting, informative, and/or entertaining conversation with the market.

Know the Various Platforms

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to posting on social media. Each platform has its own rules and methods for best marketing practices. How a business promotes on Instagram should be different from how it markets on LinkedIn because each platform is vastly different.

You should have the ability to manage several social media platforms for numerous clients. There are a host of tools, such as Hootsuite, to help you manage platforms. However, organization and having a plan are crucial to ensuring that every client's social media needs are met.

Develop Strategies That Match the Client's Goals

Social media managers must help clients understand social media and how it works. For example, research suggests that few sales are actually made through social media, but social media is effective at building loyalty and trust. Engagement and list building would be better goals than sales.

Be able to capture the client’s voice. If your client is fun and quirky, social media posts should reflect that.

Build Your Own Following

Even more than a huge number of followers, you should have influence. A large number of followers means nothing if none of them are paying attention to what you post. Your goal is to build a following that engages with you. They comment, share, or like what you post. PeerIndex (Brandwatch) and Kred monitor your social media activity and assign a score that reflects your influence.

Decide What Services You'll Offer

You can offer several packages, such as a start-up service that creates accounts then passes management of them back to the client or a full-service package that does everything from creating the accounts, posting content, and moderating the community.

You might want to focus more on marketing or more on data analysis. Your key talents will help you narrow it down. Go with what you're really good at.

Consider if there are industries you want to focus on. For example, you can be a social media manager for realtors or authors.

Identify Your Niche

Determine which platforms you’ll specialize in. Knowing something about all the major platforms is important. But, sometimes, it's better to focus on a couple that reaps big results for a client's particular industry. Some clients might have Twitter and Facebook down pat, but they need help with Pinterest or YouTube.

Write a Business Plan

Your business plan is a roadmap for your business success. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Outline your business goals, services, assets, liabilities, and marketing information, and explain how you’ll compete against the competition.

Determine Your Pricing

PayScale reports that social media managers earned median pay of $52,326 a year as of September 2021, with a range of $35,000 to $80,000. You might have difficulty charging top dollar as a new business, but referrals and testimonials can get you there eventually. What you charge will depend on your experience and the work you do. You can charge by the hour or offer package plans. 

You might have to offer your services at a steep discount at first, or—gulp—work for a client for free for a limited time. You're selling yourself, your skills, and your talents. Word of mouth can go a long way after you knock it out of the park.

Decide on Your Business Name

A business name becomes your brand, so you'll want to choose it carefully. It should reflect your service and your market.

Any name you choose that isn't your given name should be checked on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website to make sure it’s not already trademarked by someone else.

Determine Your Business Structure

You can operate as a sole proprietor, particularly when you're starting out. It's free and doesn't require any paperwork except for possibly a business license. 

Social media can go wrong, however, and a client might sue you for any problems it incurs. Consider forming a limited liability company (LLC) to protect yourself. An LLC won't prevent you from being sued, but it will protect your personal assets, such as your home, if you are.

Most states offer single-person LLCs. It requires a little more paperwork and money to set up than a sole proprietorship, but it can be worth the extra protection.

Obtain Licenses and Permits

Contact your local city or county about getting a business license. You can do this online in many areas. You might have to file a fictitious name statement—sometimes called “assumed name" statement or “doing business as" statement—if your business name is something other than your given name.

Develop a Marketing Plan

Make your own plan for getting clients. Networking will be your best bet for getting your initial clients, but also include methods for getting testimonials and referrals.

Work Your Plan and Build Your Business

Your job is to get clients and provide the best social media management service possible.