Social Media Marketing Agency Shenanigans

Circa 2015.

An old friend from high school talks to me about how he's managing brand pages of local businesses on social media. I am puzzled. In my head, I'm wondering how this could actually be a legitimate business. Especially for local businesses that usually don't have much to deal with on social media - a few thousand fans and the occasional post is what their social media world is all about.

Fast Forward to Mid 2016.

Having run his agency at a super-small scale for a while with a rag tag team of a graphic designer, a human 'creative concept generator' (for lack of a better title), and a digital marketer, my friend decides that he's called it in for long enough and takes up a job elsewhere. Around this time, I am made aware of more players in this space - some even reasonably profitable. Despite my friend's misadventures, could this really be a thing?

Late 2016 - Early 2017.

Stories of VaynerMedia and a rather lavish acquisition of a local creative agency by a big advertising conglomerate turn my head towards the very real possibility of some real commercial opportunity in this space. Meanwhile, my friend is disillusioned with his job and his sinking company. A couple of meetings later, I'd got this social media agency game figured out. Or so I thought.

There are local businesses with good products or services (and some with bad ones, as well) who value any activity that will enable them to reach more potential customers. While they are aware of the power of social media platforms as a channel to untapped audiences, they could definitely use some help with creating good content that captures their marketing message and engaging with their customer communities. We could help the business establish their brand as a market leader/authority in their sector and 

It was challenging work, but it wasn't rocket science. It required a tailored marketing strategy for each client. A lot of the value-add was in creative content/communication. Even here, content for clients within a specific sector revolved around common themes - to a large extent, standardised systems could be created to ensure quicker turnaround times for client projects. Over all this, a fair level of digital marketing smarts was the last piece of the puzzle. If the campaigns and content could be boosted to reach as many relevant people as the budget and platform would allow, and if this activity could be linked to real world results like leads or sales, the agency would be good to go.

Present Day: Mid 2017.

Said friend and I kicked the agency off and grew our client billings from zero to ₹2,50,000/month in under 3 months. We moved into a large-ish office (for us, at least) in a rather posh part of the city, hired some good resources and set ourselves up for a good growth spike. It had all the makings of a successful venture, but we had some disagreements in terms of the direction we were moving in. I am exiting that project and setting up a social media agency of my own now.

It might take a few months to setup and might require relying on others to run daily operations, but what business doesn't? Most of the ops can be documented into standard processes, a lot of tools and technology can be leveraged to improve output quality and turnaround time. Sticking to my law of People > Process > Profits, good work will ensue with good people on board. If I just focus on happy employees (echoing Richard Branson's similar views), I'll be able to get better work done in a shorter time frame and get better results for clients - leading to happy clients!

Another important thing is to keep the focus on quality over quantity in all aspects of the business. Focus on fewer but good clients to pay more attention and  get good results. Fewer, but more skilled, human resources. Fewer but more effective services and platforms to work on. 

In short, a social media agency could be run profitably with minimal management. It is, for me, one of the best passive income generators in today's market. I will probably write more about this along my journey, but this is all the food for thought I've got for now.

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