On Friday, April 5th, I had the pleasure of joining Laura Click, Valentina Escobar-Gonzalez, and Kerry Gorgone on a panel for new social media marketers at Social Slam in Knoxville, TN. Many people know that I regard Social Slam as the best marketing conference around. This year was even better, not only because I was able to participate as a sponsor, panelist, and speaker; but the content delivered by everyone was top notch. I’m so happy to have played a part in history.
The social media panel with the awesome ladies mentioned above has inspired me to write this post featuring the simple how-tos for building a digital agency. For a more in-depth breakdown of our panel, check out Laura Click’s article on tips for getting started with social media. So here we go.
The Formula For Building a Digital Agency:
1. Learn everything you can and never stop learning.
Social media and technology in general moves and changes quickly. New tools and techniques pop up everyday. Don’t get left behind. Start by learning each social media platform and eventually graduate to mastering the tools of the trade.
2. Start with the right people on the bus.
If you’re running solo, mentally prepare yourself for long hours and varying levels of psychology when dealing with clients. If you’re looking to grow a team, do what I suggest in the previous sentence and make sure the people you bring on fit with your vision and intended culture.
3. Learn the platforms.
This is an extension of Tip #1. Learn to love maneuvering Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube/Vimeo, Instagram, and Quora. Each network has their own identity and culture. The rules of the game changes a lot so this will be a “lifelong” commitment.
4. Master the tools.
I suggest using Hootsuite or Sprout Social (if you want to run simple reports for clients) for easy community management. As a new agency, you’ll likely be on-the-go quite a bit so make sure you have your mobile equipped with apps like Echofon and Facebook’s Fan Page management app.
5. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple “Stoopid”)
Don’t come out the box trying to be everything to everyone. Over deliver value in one or two things and you’ll have the opportunity to expand later.
6. Have respect for your time.
If you know you know your stuff and you know that you’re ready to take on clients, don’t waste time… Jump out there and get moving. As you improve the quality of your offerings, always increase your prices so that you can make sure your agency stays financially healthy. Have respect for your knowledge and time.
7. Reserves, reserves, reserves
This is basic advice for any business: Establish a reserves fund! A digital agency might not have as much liability and inventory (if any) as a grocery store business, but you still must be prepared for emergencies.
8. Stay off Google Images
For any content you create, make sure you have the rights to use any images associated with the content. This goes for blog posts, websites/landing pages, presentation, etc. Protect yourself by using royalty free images (with attribution) and/or high quality stock images from sites like Big Stock Photo.
9. When you mess up, fess up!
You’re going to mess up. No one is perfect. I told a story about how we (Nao) posted a ridiculous liquor ad on our client Aloe Blacc’s Facebook fan page a couple Thanksgivings ago. We knew Aloe doesn’t drink and his fans could smell the inauthenticity from a mile away. After quick and fierce backlash from his fans, we quickly removed the ad from his page and apologized to Aloe and his fans. Everything worked out. People respect honesty and fessing up quickly after messing up is the best policy for a responsible agency.
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