As a leader marketing speaker and a personal advisor, I am often asked about how to become a social media consultant and develop initial clients. As someone who has been doing this for over a decade, I am happy to mentor a new generation of smart social media marketing consultants. Starting a new venture is always the hardest, but based on my own experience, I wanted to offer you all a roadmap on how you can start a successful venture like I have, whether it’s a side crowd or full-time employment.
Starting any new business is a risk, and while I believe many people may have expertise in any field, they may not have the sales skills or even social media management and marketing skills to develop the job of marketing consulting and build a business.
(Yes, I met social media consultants who are not good practitioners themselves.)
I will not comment on what types of projects these individuals might be suitable for, as each professional brings to the table a unique set of skills and a wealth of experience, but I will say this further if you cannot demonstrate your own social media marketing expertise with your own brand will be very difficult to establish the credibility needed to develop a successful business. This is because, although I have advised on social media in the past on customer service projects, most of the inquiries I receive relate to social media marketing consulting.
What does a social media consultant do?
A social media consultant is a professional who helps companies use social media for a variety of business purposes.
While it can be argued that companies started their journey on social media with public relations and crisis management departments as a key goal, today most budgets are owned by the marketing department. With that in mind, these are some of the main goals that social marketers have for social activities that your work is likely to include:
Of course, your work will not be limited to social media marketing, as the social sector is also driven by sales departments (social sales), customer service, and even research and development.
A social media advisor could be in charge of performing any or a combination of the following tasks:
- creating a social strategy
- teaching how to implement
Assuming you are qualified for the job and invest enough time and resources to make your social networking consulting business successful, here are the 10 most important steps on how to start social networking consulting:
1) Explore and choose your niche
While “all of this” could create an interesting slogan for busy parents in the early ’90s, it’s extremely detrimental to any form of marketing, management, and consulting.
Brands, mission statements, and company practices vary tremendously, especially in different markets. What will work for one brand – say, a sports brand – will fail for a brand that wants to promote sweet candy. While not all multi-market companies will be that extreme, there are specific niches for specific products and services, and recognizing the type of your specialty can make it easier for you to market your services and encourage your customers.
Generally speaking, you should start looking for a job in the niche where you have the most professional experience.
2) Attend online courses
Everyone has to start somewhere.
Before starting your consulting business, take online courses on the industry and pursue your craft. You can do this by offering your services for free (which most would do not recommend), or simply by exercising in your time. Look for a smaller local brand and ask yourself how you can apply what you’ve learned in online courses to that company or brand. Attending courses and applying what you have learned in practical practice will pull you out of the double duty of preparing for the challenges you will face as a counselor and can create a bunch of ideas for potential clients.
3) Start by establishing credibility
This does not make sense. Without credibility, no one will hire you. How to establish the credibility of a social media consultant is a completely separate conversation, but you need to think carefully and imagine: if you are on the other side of the table, why would they entrust their business to you? Why would?
Assuming you have no previous experience in consulting with clients, it is understood here that you have your own robust presence on social media and that you can at least present your own internet brand to gain some credibility with potential clients. A website is a must, and a blog that shows your knowledge and experience will help build trust through your content as well as maintain a consistent number of followers. Writing your own e-books or hosting your own webinars are other ways to establish credibility through presenting your knowledge and successful social networking strategy.
4) Gain experience in counseling on social media
Combined with credibility, you need to show the experience you have, which is equal to why you can make money from others. If you don’t have experience managing social media or social media campaigns, you can’t expect to get any jobs. Start by having your own presence on social media, and then lend a hand by providing pro bono counseling services to others in your family and / or network that you can help and create records.
There are also a lot of non-profit organizations that would appreciate your contributions. Of course, you could offer your services at a very low price Fiverr or Upwork as a growth strategy, only to gain that initial experience if you can’t find other organizations that need help.
The important thing is this: as you gain experience, you begin to build a portfolio of case studies that you can both display on your website, as well as discuss them on the social media platforms on which you are active. Businesses with visible work are preferred, even if the work is mostly completed voluntarily.
5) Show up on social media
Social media strategies are about finding you online, so obviously you need to have the right online brand to permeate your website as well as your social media networks so that there is a sense of trust in your business. If you tell your customers that they should be on Snapchat, but you don’t have an account there yet, your online branding is incomplete! Just think of all the websites where business owners would be present online and make sure you camp out!
6) Become a content creator
Anyone can go to Twitter and re-tweet everyone else’s content. But what is your opinion on using online social networks for work?
If you don’t contribute your own unique and insightful blog posts or social media, why would someone who finds you want to visit your website and learn more about you?
How can I be sure that you can apply your expertise to their particular situation if your online presence is not robust and interesting?
This content can be displayed as a blog post, e-book, or regular newsletter that you send to potential customers. Taking advantage of stories and videos is another way to show what you know and how you can help others.
7) Establish connections, both network and offline
People buy from people they know and rely on the recommendations of trusted friends through word of mouth. Although social is relatively new, the same old business rules apply. Counselors need to work hard to work with others on any platform to build the reach of your network, but remember to disconnect those relationships from the network and expand them.
Chances are your first arrangements will happen locally, so I would focus on local networking before I get too ambitious and think nationally or globally. Over time, you will begin to generate potential customers from your social media presence.
8) Learn from your customers about how to start a social media consulting company
Pretty soon, assuming you’ve followed the steps above, you’ll no doubt meet someone who might be interested in your services. So, what exactly are your services? It’s time not to spy on the websites of other social media consulting firms looking for ideas, but to download the results of what you’ve done pro bono for those on your network. It’s also time to learn from your customers, understand their pain and needs, and provide solutions that solve their problems. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s time to take a copy of the classic book Selling solutions for the education that most sales professionals and consultants go through early in their careers.
9) How much to charge?
By reselling your services, you can do one of two things: make you look like you’re not qualified for your job, or create a dangerous precedent for prospective clients who might expect you to continue working for extremely small amounts. Monitoring your services in a similar way is problematic because it can build you a reputation for being expensive and turn down customers who can’t pay for the expertise of social media managers.
So how do you decide how much to charge? The best solution is to evaluate people and companies doing similar jobs in your area and base your prices on those jobs. If you want to make your prices more competitive, you can charge below the standard fee in your area. Glassdoor and other websites have information like these arranged by country and can offer more detailed information about your place.
10) Scale employment of people
Many companies start with a single employee and record little growth, making a single-person operation perfectly functional. However, it can be problematic when a single-person emission grows exponentially and is unable to keep up with sales, services, or service requirements. To make sure you offer everything you can to your incoming and potential customers, hire all the services you can’t commit to. If, for example, you have so much work to do 12-hour days and you have the finances to bring in someone else, transfer the tasks you can to another person (or team of people).
If you have a team, you will show that your business is growing and that you are able to take on additional customers. While hiring more people, be sure to bring people on board who can focus on a specific area to make sure you make the most of your team’s individual talents, skills and strengths.
Are you ready to launch your social media consulting?
My experience deals with business (B2B) sales and business development, so business development is natural to me, but I realize that many consultants themselves are not experienced salespeople, especially when it comes to developing potential customers from online channels. Personally, I have managed to successfully develop the business by combining the above things, and I believe this can be a successful formula for you as well.
I’m also not trying to make my answer seem “zen-like” or abstract, but I believe it requires a lot of hard work to combine the above, not to mention creativity with a little extra luck in terms of conversation time and opportunities. There are a lot more concrete things I can point out, but I will leave them for future blogs and webinars on the subject.
Would you like your feedback: is there anything else I can add to experienced and successful social media advisors and managers to help everyone get started on social networking consulting? On the other hand, if you are an ambitious counselor, does this give you more confidence to seek out your passion?