How to Start a Social Media Management Home Business
10 Steps to Getting Paid to Tweet, Pin, and Share
Social media started out as a fun way to connect with family and friends and has now grown into an affordable, vital marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes. Unfortunately, many businesses are overwhelmed by all the tasks that go into managing multiple messages across many social media accounts and are hiring experts to take care of it for them. If you enjoy tweeting, pinning and sharing, then starting a social media management business might be for you. Here are steps and tips to getting started.
What Do Social Media Managers Do?
Similar to virtual assistants, social media managers can 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 set up.
- Post graphics and text on behalf of the client.
- Stay current and share on trends and news relevant to the client’s business.
- Increase the number of followers.
- Community facilitation to the client's target market.
- Customer service for the client.
- Marketing analysis.
Pros and Cons of Social Media Management
There are many good reasons to consider starting a social media management business including:
- Getting paid to use social media, if that's something you already enjoy doing.
- It doesn't take much investment or equipment to get started especially if you already have a computer and Internet service.
- You can run the business from home, or wherever you can access the Internet.
- You can focus on the one or few social media sites 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.
Of course, there are a few downsides to starting a social media management business.
- Social media is a challenge for one person managing their profile, it's even more difficult to manage several companies' profiles.
- Not all businesses understand the power of social media, so you may need to sell them on the benefits you can provide.
- You represent the company, not yourself when you're doing social media for others. This means you need to act on its behalf based on its tone and attitude.
- You need to stay on top of changes in policies, algorithms, and other aspects of each social media platform so that your efforts on behalf of the client continue to deliver results.
- Along with an understanding of how to engage your clients' target audience, you also will need to be able to create graphics to attract them to the post in the first place.
- You will likely need to invest in tools, such as scheduling services and royalty-free graphics, and graphics editing software.
What Does It Take to Be a Social Media Manager?
Although courses in social media management are popping up, becoming a social media manager requires experience more than education. With that said, there are things social media managers need to know beyond how to take a good selfie.
- Understand social media as a marketing tool. It’s one thing to get a bunch of followers to a cat tricks YouTube feed, it’s 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 about having an interesting, informative, and/or entertaining conversation with the market.
- Knowledge of the nuances of the various platforms. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to posting on social media. Each platform has its rules and methods for best marketing practices. How a business promotes on Instagram should be different than how it markets on LinkedIn, because each platform is vastly different.
- The ability to develop strategies that meet the client’s goals. Effective social media marketing requires setting goals and then developing a plan. Social media managers also need to help clients understand social media and how it works, and work with them to develop goals that best fit social media. For example, research suggests that few sales are made through social media. However, social media is effective at building loyalty and trust, so engagement and list building would be better goals than sales.
- Be able to capture the client’s voice. If the client is fun and quirky, social media posts should reflect that.
- Ability to manage several social media platforms for many clients. There are a host of tools, such as Hootsuite to help manage platforms, but organization and a plan are crucial to ensuring every client gets their social media needs met.
How to Start a Social Media Business
Before starting a social media management business, make sure you have the basic know-how and the commitment to stick with it. If you’re ready to get started, here are the steps to take:
- Build your own social media following. 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. That means they comment, share or like what you post. One way to quantify your influence is through Klout, PeerIndex (Brandwatch) or Kred, all of which monitor your social media activity and assigns a score that reflects your influence.
- Study social media. Social media platforms change, and the marketing tactics to use them evolve, which requires that you stay on top of these changes and trends. Also, pay attention to people who have a lot of engagement on social media. What sorts of things do they post that are causing people to respond?
- Decide what services you’ll offer. You can offer several packages, such as a start-up service that creates the accounts and then passes the management back to the client, and/or a full-service package that does everything from creating the accounts, posting content, and moderating the community. As you decide what to offer, consider if there are industries you want to focus in. For example, you can be a social media manager for Realtors or authors. Finally, determine which platforms you’ll specialize in. While knowing something of all the major platforms is important, sometimes focusing on a couple that reap big results for the client’s industry is better. Further, some clients may have Twitter and Facebook down pat, but need help with Pinterest or YouTube.
- Write a business plan. Your business plan doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Instead, it’s a roadmap for your business success. In it, you outline your business goals, services, assets and liabilities, marketing information and how you’ll compete against the competition.
- Determine your pricing. Payscale reports that social media managers earn a median of $48,150 per year, with a range of $31,015 – $74,738 (as of 12/2017). As a new business, you may have difficulty charging higher amounts initially. Referrals and testimonials will be crucial to helping you earn the big bucks. What you charge will depend on your experience and the work you do. You can charge by the hour or offer package plans.
- Decide on your business name. A business name becomes your brand, so it’s something you want to choose carefully. It needs to reflect your service and your market. Any name you choose a name that is not your given name should be checked at the USPTO to make sure it’s not already trademarked.
- Determine your business structure. Starting out, you can operate under a sole proprietorship, which is free and doesn't require any paperwork except for a business license. However, since social media can go wrong, and a client might sue you for any problems it might incur from social media, you should consider forming a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC doesn’t prevent you from getting sued but does protect your personal assets (i.e. your home) if you are sued. Most states offer single-person LLCs now. Although it requires a little more paperwork and money to start than a sole proprietorship, it’s worth the extra protection.
- Obtain licenses and permits as required in your city or county. Contact your local city or county about getting a business license. In many places, you can do this online. If your business name is something other than your given name, you may need to file a fictitious name statement (sometimes called “assumed name statement” or “doing business as statement”), as well.
- Develop a marketing plan. As a marketing expert, you’d be remiss not to make your own plan for getting clients. This should include social media, especially LinkedIn. Networking will be your best bet for getting your initial client(s), but also include methods for getting testimonials and referrals.
- Work your plan and build your business. Once you have everything in place, your job is to get clients and provide the best social media management service possible.