Do you want to start a social media consulting business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a social media consulting business with NO money and no experience.
Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample social media consulting business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample social media consulting marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for social media consulting businesses. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a social media consulting business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.
Why Start a Social Media Consulting Business?
Social media has become very essential for individuals and businesses as it is now used to promote and publicize their activities. However, the social media is a place with changing trends and business owners and busy individuals do not have all the time to keep up with the changes and so usually employ the services of a social media consultant to help maintain and promote their presence online using whatever trend is latest.
If therefore you are one who is internet savvy and know what platforms are best to help businesses and popular individuals grow their brand, then you should consider becoming a social media consultant.
Before starting a social media consulting business, you must ensure that you have studied the market thoroughly. This will enable you know which area you would need to focus on as well as what you will offer that will make you stand out from other social media consultants.
Social media as a whole is highly demanding and therefore you need to pinpoint which areas you are going to concentrate on to ensure that you are able to meet the needs of your clients. While you might need to select an area to focus on, you will still need to have a general knowledge about the varying platforms on social media.
To get the attention of your target market, you will need to prove that you are able to get results by showing what you have achieved. This therefore means that you will have to build a profile that clients can see so that they are confident enough to allow you handle their activities online. To build a profile, you will need to start small by helping friends and family members achieve their social media goals and objectives.
Just like any other business, it is important that you have a business plan before starting your social media consulting business.
Starting a Social Media Consulting Business – A Complete Guide
- Industry Overview
The social media industry which is more than a decade old is one that has entirely changed how everyone communicates and shares ideas all over the world. This industry has remained one of the highest growing given the number of opportunities that it affords its users. The United States does not have dominance over this industry as other countries like Japan, China and Russia have a grip on the industry.
Over the past ten years, social media has grown tremendously as Facebook which had about 1 million users over a decade ago now has more than one billion users and is still looking to get more than 5 billion users in the near future. On a global scale, the number of people who use social media has gotten to more than 2 billion and has been projected to reach 3 billion by the year 2020.
The large number of users on social media has caused a lot of companies to look for ways to monetize the existing users. Also commercial businesses are increasingly using social media to build and boost their brands as well as get in touch with their consumers.
According to industry statistics, in 2015, more than $23 billion was spent on social media marketing which is about 14 percent of the total digital spending in the industry. It has been predicted that the amount will reach $36 billion by 2017 with the percentage rising to 16 percent.
One of the major trends that have helped in revolutionizing the industry is the growing spending power of the Millenials. According to a report, a large percentage of Millenials do not trust regular advertising as they are more likely to be influenced by content on social media. This has allowed marketers to put most of their efforts into getting the attention of Millenials.
Social media has also become one of the sources of gathering and collating data. About 80 percent of data globally which comes from sources that cannot be easily verified have come from the social media. These data generated on social media are also monetized as they are being sold to data collectors, investors and advertisers.
The social media industry is referred to as a maturing industry and as such there have been mergers and acquisitions that have helped to accelerate and maintain growth in the industry. This has not only led to the integration of database but to also providing a means for social media consultants to use this as an advantage when helping clients achieve their goals and objectives.
Starting a Social Media Consulting Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic ad psychographic composition of those who require the services of a social media consultant are individuals, small businesses, corporate organizations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies that need to promote their brand.
Therefore, it is not entirely possible for the services of a social media consultant to be limited to just a particular group of individuals or businesses as everyone who is aware of the power of the internet will at one time or the other make use of a social media consultant.
List of Niche ideas Within the Social Media Consulting Business That You Can Specialize in
Due to the fact that social media has become an integral part of the lives of almost everyone in America and even globally, it has become pertinent that the internet and social media becomes integrated into the affairs of individuals and businesses seeking to boost the awareness of their brand.
The social media industry is a vast one and so social media consultants are choosing what niche they feel they would be able to master in order to offer better services to their clients. It should be noted that while large scale social media consulting companies have been able to offer more niches to their target market, small scale companies have to stick to just a few in order to be able to offer efficient services.
Therefore some of the niche areas that you can major in when starting your social media consulting company are;
- Social Media Consulting
- Content Creator
- Content Strategist and Marketing
- Social Media Copywriter
- Digital Marketing Specialist
- Social Media Graphics Designer
The Level of Competition in Social Media Consulting Industry
The level of competition that is experienced in the social media industry is one that is not dependent on the location of the business in any way, this is because the work of the social media consultant can be done from any part of the world, thereby allowing companies in this industry to compete with one another on a global scale.
The social media consulting industry is one that has grown tremendously and has companies not only in the United States of America, but all over the world as well. This means that if you are looking to be a social media consultant, you should be prepared to compete with other competitors not only in the United States of America but all over the world as well.
List of Well – Known Brands in the Social Media Consulting Industry
In every industry, there are brands that are well known and seen as popular not only by those in the industry but also those outside the industry, and the social media consulting business is no different. There are several factors that allow a business to stand out from others and they are; having a high streak of success, unique marketing tactics, how long they have been in the industry and what niche areas they are operating in.
Therefore some of the well-known social media consulting brands not only in the United States of America but also globally include;
- About Inc
- AG Interactive Inc
- 2wire Inc
- Alsto Inc
- Cogent Communications Group Inc
- Digital Insight Corporation
Social media is seen as vital to businesses and individuals who are looking to build their brand within their target market and also favorably compete against their competitors. A social media consultant therefore needs to constantly think up strategies that can be used to achieve the goals and objectives of their clients.
The social media has become very popular and lucrative in recent years, hence there are so many social media consultants. In 2015, according to Cross-Platform Future, 19 percent of minutes spent online were due to activities from social media. This has caused revenue to increase for the industry as global revenue reached more than $23 billion in 2015 according to eMarkter, therefore showing more than 33 percent increase from the revenue generated in 2014.
The social media industry is one that is highly beneficial as it provides jobs for a lot of people who are from a varied background, skill set and educational qualification. This has made the industry to be seen as one that is not only growing but will continue to offer a wide range of career opportunities to stakeholders.
Starting Your Social Media Consulting Company from Scratch vs Buying a Franchise
The decision of starting a business from scratch versus buying a franchise rests entirely on the goals and objectives that the entrepreneur has set for his or her business. In the social media consulting industry however, there are no franchises in existence and this is due to how the business is being run, which makes franchises not likely to exist in the industry in the near future.
Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face While Starting a Social Media Consulting Company
Challenges and threats are not new and every entrepreneur looking to run a business must be prepared to face whatever challenges and threats are likely to arise. Some of the threats and challenges that are likely to arise during the course of starting or running your social media consulting business are; having to contend with changing trends regarding technology and the internet, having to deal with existing competitors and new entrants in the industry, and the challenge concerning industry trends and policies.
Facing challenges and threats are nothing new to a business as long as you know what you are doing and are adequately prepared to changes and see how you can turn them into something positive for your business.
Starting a Social Media Consulting Business – Legal Matters
- Best legal entity to use for this type of business
The legal structure you choose for your business will have an impact on how your business will grow, therefore if you are looking to grow your brand and be recognized nationally and internationally, then you would need to take this aspect of your business seriously.
There are 4 legal structures available for businesses in the United States of America and each comes with its pros and cons. Some of these legal structures can be further split to meet the needs of an entrepreneur. However, not all legal entities are suitable for all kinds of businesses.
It is therefore important that you make your findings before starting the business or engage the services of an attorney or accountant with experience in your field to help you choose the best legal entity for your social media consulting business.
There are factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding what legal entity to choose for your business and these factors are; liability, flexibility, ease of business set-up and control as well as taxation.
The 4 major legal structures that exist in the United States of America are Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Because the social media consulting business is a huge one and except you intend to run a small scale business that caters to only close friends and family members, then you should not consider choosing a sole proprietor or a partnership kind of legal entity.
Choosing a corporation or LLC is your best bet. In a corporation, the business is regarded as a separate entity from the owners and is therefore seen as one whose decision affects it separately from the owners. The business in a corporation can sue and be sued and requires a very formal way of set-up. In a corporation, it is required that the business has a board of directors who also have a stake in the industry.
There are two forms of corporation – the S Corporation and the C Corporation. In the LLC kind of legal structure, entrepreneurs also have the advantage of a separate entity from the business, but it has a less formal structure than the corporation. Also, the owners(s) have the benefit of paying tax on their personal income return.
Catchy Business Name Ideas Suitable for a Social Media Consulting Company
Choosing the right name for your business is very important because the name you choose can help boost your brand. It is important that you choose a business name that is creative, unique, easily memorable and indicative of the industry you are operating in.
If you are not sure of what names might be suitable for your social media consulting business, the names below should be helpful;
- Arise Social Media Consultants
- Brisk Media Consulting Inc
- Gold Communications Inc
- Guru Social Media Consultants
- BBN Social Media Hub
- S&C Social Media Consultants
Acquiring insurance policies for your business is very important and taken seriously by the authorities. Therefore, if you intend to run your social media consulting company, it is pertinent that you set aside a budget for your insurance policies and consult an insurance agent or broker to know what insurance policies you should consider getting for your business.
Insurance policies help protect you and your business from any incident that might occur during the process of starting or running your business. Below are some of the basic insurance policies that you would need to consider purchasing if you intend starting your own social media consulting business in the United States of America;
- General Insurance
- Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Errors and Omission Insurance
- Employment Practices Liability Insurance
- Business Owner’s Policy Group Insurance
- Payment Protection Insurance
- Cyber Liability Insurance
Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark
As a social media consultant, most of what you will be doing will be offering services that will boost the brand of your clients. Due to the fact that this is a service oriented business, the ideas and tactics that will be used in this business are in no way particularly unique enough for an entrepreneur to consider getting an intellectual property protection.
Certain entrepreneurs in the industry however usually apply for an intellectual property protection for their company logo, slogan or certain media production materials. If you are considering applying for an intellectual property protection on your logo or slogan; then you will need to engage the services of an attorney to help you out.
Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Social Media Consulting Business?
The social media consulting industry is getting filled with intense competition and as such clients are demanding more than just results. They are seeking for social media consultants that take their business seriously enough to get professional certifications that will allow them stand out from others in the industry. If you are therefore serious and committed to your business, then you need to work towards acquiring certifications that will allow you stand out from others in the same industry.
You should know that these professional certifications are not compulsory but only deemed necessary for the benefit of your business. Some social media consulting professional certifications that you should look towards getting are;
- Social Media Consulting Certification
- Social Media Certificate Program
- Social Media Consulting Master Certification
The industry is not structured enough to determine which certifications should be standard but it is sure that having professional certifications is better than having none at all.
List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Social Media Consulting Company
Every business that intends to run legally in the United States of America needs to have certain legal documents in place. Not having the necessary documents at hand before starting a business might lead to you running into problems with the law and for you to avoid this, it is necessary that you make findings about the legal requirements of your business.
If you are overwhelmed, you may need to engage the services of an attorney or accountant to help you out. Some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you intend to run your social media consulting business legally in the United States of America include;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Contract Documents
- Business License and Certification
- Business Plan
- Insurance Policy
- Employment Agreement
- Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Federal Tax Identification Number
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Financing Your Social Media Consulting Company
The social media consulting business looks like one which can be started at any time, but you will need to spend a considerable amount of time online which will require you spending certain amount of resources. Most entrepreneurs who have a business idea do not usually have all the necessary funds needed to start the business, so they usually need to seek for funds from external investors.
Some of the financing options that you can explore if you intend to generate start-up capital for your social media consulting business include;
- Generating part of start-up capital from personal savings
- Getting soft loan from family members and friends
- Raising money from private investors and venture capitalists
Choosing a Suitable Location for your Social Media Consulting Business
Choosing a location for your social media consulting business is very important, even though most of what you do will be online, meaning that you might not need to physically meet with your clients and should therefore be able to locate your business anywhere you please.
This reasoning has made most entrepreneurs to run their business from home so as to reduce the expenses of renting a commercially leased facility. There are several advantages to running your social media consulting business from home, chief of which is the fact that you will not have to spend so much in overhead and even running expenses. You can create a space in your garage or den and set up a workspace.
If you however are thinking of expanding your business and becoming reckoned with nationally, then you might need to think of commercially leasing a facility for your social media consulting business especially if those that are in your niche are renting or leasing a commercial facility with which to run their business.
It is important that you have a budget set aside if you intend renting or leasing a facility. Get in touch with a real estate agent who knows the area well and knows what might fit in with your budget to help you chose the appropriate location for your social media consulting business and in a hub that will enable you be close to your target market.
Ensure that the location you choose for your business isn’t one that is hidden or not easily accessible for your clients. Also get a place that isn’t too far off so you do not end up having to make intense promotion regarding the location of your business.
Starting a Social Media Consulting Business – Technical & Manpower Details
The social media consulting business is not one that requires an entrepreneur to have certain technical skills before going into the business, all that is needed is the ability to navigate the internet and understand which social media platforms will best meet the goals and objectives of the clients.
In deciding on a location for your business, some entrepreneurs who are starting out on a low scale usually choose to run their business from home. This allows them to save expenses that would have been incurred from having to run the business from a commercially rented facility.
When it comes to the equipment that you would need to run your social media consulting business, you will not need a whole lot as other technically inclined businesses might. The necessary equipment that you will need are; a computer, a cell phone, high speed internet and social media analytics software. You might also need certain software such as accounting and customer database in order to run your business efficiently.
The number of employees that you will need in order to successfully run your social media consulting business are; Chief Executive Officer (owner), admin and human resources manager, systems administrator, business development and marketing executive, customer service executive and an accountant.
Therefore from the above breakdown, you will require at least 6 key staff in order to run your social media consulting business successfully.
The Service Delivery Process of a Social Media Consulting Company
If you intend to start off your social media consulting business, there are several processes that are involved. For clients to know about you, you have to be in existence first. This means positioning yourself in such a way that stakeholders in the industry cannot help but notice you. Once you have employed strategies to help you stand out, you must then have plans to attract and get customers hooked to your brand.
The key thing in the social media business is content. Clients love it when unique content is created for them because this helps them stand out from their competitors. So, no matter what niche you intend to focus on, knowing that most of what you need to do is hinged on content will help you in taking the right steps.
Starting a Social Media Consulting Business – The Marketing Plan
- Marketing ideas and strategies
The social media consulting industry is one that is filled with intense competition and it is therefore necessary that you have the right strategies in place that will allow you to not only generate the needed revenue for your business but also get the attention of your target market. Remember that the revenue you will generate is what will sustain and grow your business to the point where you are able to achieve all your short and long term goals.
However, before you can create the right marketing strategies for your business, it is important that you conduct a market survey. The reason why you need to conduct a market survey is so that you know who your target market is and what to expect from them. Defining the characteristics of your target market will allow you create the right marketing strategies that would be effective for your social media consulting business.
Having an excellent profile is very necessary if you are looking to attract large companies and individual brands to your business. Companies want to know that you won’t be using trial and error methods in helping them achieve their goals and objectives. They want to know that you are able to do all you say you can and this can only be evident in the successes you have made.
In order to market your social media consulting business successfully, it is essential that you set aside a marketing budget and also know which channels will likely be more effective for your business.
Below therefore are some of the marketing ideas and strategies to use for your social media consulting business;
- Place adverts for your social media consulting business on popular blogs and forum
- Ensure that you use social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus to market your business
- Ensure that your social media consulting business is in yellow pages as well as online directories
- Engage in direct marketing in order to generate revenue and increase awareness for your business
- Distribute handbills and business cards and paste fliers in strategic locations
- Ask your loyal customers to help spread the word about your business
Strategies to Boost Your Brand Awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity
Publicity is very necessary for a business because not only do you get to create awareness for your business, you can also generate revenue for your business as well. Even though you will be offering to boost the brand of your clients and help them create a corporate identity, you will need to do so for your own business as well.
Due to how easy it is for your business to become lost in the large and ever evolving social media industry, it is very important that you invest in publicizing and promoting your business. Due to the importance of publicity, clients in and out of the social media industry are ready to spend a fortune to promote their business.
If you are starting the business on a strained budget, then you might need to identify which publicity strategy would be more effective for your business. You should, as a social media consultant, know that not all publicity strategies will require you to spend money and so you should be able to create a budget to cater for the promotion of your business.
As one who uses the internet majorly, you should know that the internets, as well as social media platforms, remain the right avenue for creating awareness for your business.
Some of the platforms that you can leverage on in order to promote and advertise your social media marketing business include;
- Ensuring that you place adverts in popular forums and blogs
- Distributing handbills and fliers in different strategic locations
- Installing bill boards in different locations in order to raise awareness for your business
- Creating contests on social media platforms
- Creating viral contents
- Using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twiter, YouTube, Instagram and Google Plus to promote and advertise the business