Paid Social Blueprints

Building and Scaling a Paid Social Agency: Kitchn.io Insider Tips

This comprehensive guide offers insider tips on establishing a successful paid social agency. Learn from Simon, the founder of Kitchn.io, on selecting your niche, structuring operational processes, making key hires, choosing necessary tools, and successfully scaling your agency.

Over the years, we've partnered with the top paid social agencies, helping them streamline their operations and optimize the use of automation and technology to boost efficiency, amplify results, and cut down on errors. This invaluable experience had us ask overselves - if we were to build a Paid Social agency from zero, how would we go about it?

This guide reflects the answer to this question, drawing upon key building blocks for establishing a successful paid social agency. We have spent numerous hours working with the top agencies and developed a unique perspective, as well as a deep understanding of processes and challenges in the paid social world. This guide into a must-have tool for those embarking on a journey in this field.

The Foundation of a Good Paid Social Agency

Creating a solid foundation is the first step in building a successful paid social agency. This process involves choosing a niche, picking the right channels to specialize in, and defining your agency's core capabilities.

Choosing a Niche

From our perspective, one of the most critical principles of running a successful paid social agency is to have a clear focus and a well-defined niche. This is achieved by building up expertise and thought leadership in a specific area, and refining processes through repeated execution of the same tasks. This repetitive practice ensures that the team becomes exceptionally good at what they do.

Choosing a niche doesn't mean restricting yourself. Rather, it's about aligning the agency's strengths with the needs of a specific set of clients. For instance, an agency might choose to cater specifically to e-commerce stores that need to advertise on Facebook and TikTok. The niche you choose should ideally align with your skills and knowledge, providing the best opportunities to deliver outstanding results for your clients.

Possible niches for a paid social agency

Choosing 2-3 Channels to Specialize In

Once we've defined our niche, the next step is to select the channels that we'll focus on. This is another critical area where depth is more beneficial than breadth. To deliver significant value, it's best to master a few channels than to spread your efforts too thinly across multiple platforms.

We would start with the platforms we know best - Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok - and devote the resources to becoming highly efficient in ad creation and testing on these channels. The goal is to develop a process where the outcome is independent of the person running it, turning the agency into a 'machine' that offers a productized service.

Structuring Processes and Building Operational Systems

We belive that the way you structure your processes and build your operational systems will largely determine your agency's efficiency. It's important to have effective reporting systems in place, establish open lines of communication with your clients, and maintain streamlined creative processes.

Good Reporting

The most structured part of many businesses is their reporting process, and it should be no different for a paid social agency. Good reporting is a fundamental necessity, and automated reporting is an excellent way to keep the client informed about what is working and what isn't.

There are many tools available that can help with this process, but the important thing is to establish transparency and trust with the client. By having clear, consistent, and accessible reports, we can ensure that our clients are always aware of the progress being made, leading to increased trust and satisfaction.

Communication with a Client

Effective communication is at the heart of any good client-agency relationship. This is particularly important when it comes to sharing assets. We’ve noted that the agencies that use a single tool for receiving creative assets from their clients tend to be more successful and efficient.

A smooth, unambiguous asset delivery process reduces frustration, saves time, and streamlines operations. Whether it's through a shared drive, a dedicated project management tool, or an entirely separate platform, having an agreed-upon process for sharing and receiving assets is critical to your agency's success.

Creative Processes

Creativity is what sets one paid social agency apart from another. Having a good creative testing process is crucial for producing unique and effective ad creatives. This involves agreeing on a set of brand guidelines with the client, but within those boundaries, the agency should have the freedom to experiment.

Testing a high volume of creatives (100 per week, for example) is key. This process should ideally be automated to ensure efficiency. By having a standardized approval process and a constant stream of new content, you can maintain a high level of creativity while ensuring that all ads align with the client's brand.

Naming Conventions

Although it may seem trivial, we are absolutely sure hat having consistent and logical naming conventions can have a significant impact on an agency's success. Naming files, ads, and campaigns in a way that is easy to understand makes reporting and insights more effective, as it eliminates any confusion about which ads or campaigns were successful.

Well-thought-out naming conventions also make it easier to track the performance of different ads and campaigns over time, allowing you to refine your strategies based on hard data. This process, although seemingly mundane, is a cornerstone of running a successful paid social agency.

Key Hires

After setting up our agency and establishing its processes, the next step is to bring in the right team members. Building a team that can execute the vision is essential for a paid social agency's success.

Key hires for paid social teams

Media Buyer

A media buyer is a key player in any successful paid social agency. This person is responsible for ad campaigns and making sure everything runs correctly. They're involved in everything from strategy to execution, and their skills and experience can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Creative Strategist

A creative strategist is another critical hire. This person should understand the brand and the psychology of advertising to generate new learnings and brief those creating new assets. They bridge the gap between the client's brand and the agency's creative process, ensuring that all content aligns with the brand's identity and objectives.

Account Strategist

Once the operational side of things is under control, you can start thinking about hiring an account strategist. This professional is responsible for managing client relationships and aligning the agency's operations with the client's strategic initiatives. They serve as the primary point of contact for the client and play a crucial role in maintaining client satisfaction and loyalty.

Must-Have Tools for a Successful Agency

Working in or starting a paid social agency requires more than just a dynamic team. Specific tools are critical for enhancing daily operations, maintaining communication, and facilitating project management. Here are a few that we believe can significantly increase the agency's productivity and efficiency.

Reporting Tools

In the constantly evolving world of advertising, having a robust reporting tool is crucial. It's not just about pure metrics anymore. Instead, our reporting should also reflect what we've done—listing the experiments we've run, the time spent, and the ads created. These details help keep a record of our activities, making sure we don't overlook successful strategies or repeat mistakes.

TikTok reporting template example from Kitchn.io

Communication Tools

Efficient communication is at the heart of running a successful agency. While platforms like Slack provide a conduit for communication with clients, having a project management tool might offer a more streamlined process.

Tools like Asana or Monday, which allow for project-focused communication, can give the client more transparency into what's happening at any given moment. By integrating these tools with reporting tools, a lot of manual work can be automated, providing a more precise picture of the agency's efforts.

Project Management Tools

Project management tools are crucial for keeping track of multiple projects running simultaneously. With features such as asset storage, you can have a clear overview of all the videos, images, ad copy, etc., lined up for testing. Organizing these into different buckets or folders as per your chosen naming convention can further streamline operations.

Scaling a Paid Social Agency

Scaling a paid social agency requires strategic planning and efficient execution. Each element, from maintaining focus to operational automation and creative testing, plays a crucial role in ensuring the agency's growth and sustainability. Here's our detailed list of key aspects to consider for scaling a paid social agency.

Keep the Focus While Scaling

While scaling our paid social agency, it's imperative to maintain a crystal clear focus on the agency's vision and mission. Specializing in a specific industry or type of client can provide a significant advantage in terms of expertise and credibility.

Being an expert in a niche allows an agency to understand the market dynamics, customer behavior, and challenges faced by clients in that sector. This deep understanding can lead to the development of highly targeted and effective campaigns, setting your agency apart from competitors who offer more general services. In the end, a clear focus is not a limitation; it's a strategic positioning that fosters growth.

Operations: Keep Automation in Mind

In the process of scaling, operational efficiency becomes pivotal. Our agency would definetely have well-documented standard operating procedures (SOPs) that can be easily understood and replicated by your team. SOPs ensure consistency in delivering services, regardless of who is performing the task, and reduce the chances of errors and inefficiencies.

Additionally, as we scale, automation should become a priority. From campaign reporting to client communication, many processes can be automated, freeing up valuable time for your team to focus on strategic and creative tasks. Automation tools can help streamline workflows, reduce manual errors, and increase overall productivity, allowing your agency to handle more clients without compromising quality.

Structured Creative Tests

Creative testing is another crucial aspect of scaling a paid social agency. It involves routinely experimenting with various creative elements in your paid social campaigns to identify what works best for your clients.

Regularly conducting structured creative tests allows your agency to continually improve and optimize campaigns based on solid data, rather than assumptions or outdated practices. This process of consistent testing and learning can result in better campaign performance, client satisfaction, and overall growth for your agency.

Hiring People Overseeing the System

When it comes to hiring while scaling the agency, quality should always trump quantity. Rather than bringing in more people to handle manual tasks, we’d focus on hiring individuals who can oversee automated systems and make strategic decisions based on the data these systems generate.

They should also be comfortable with technology, as they'll be working closely with various automation tools and platforms. By hiring the right people, we will ensure that the agency continues to operate smoothly and efficiently as it scales.

Additional Strategies and Methodologies for a Paid Social Agency

In the world of paid social advertising, standing still means falling behind. Thus, it's important to continuously explore innovative strategies and methodologies that can drive the growth of your agency.

Encouraging Creative Testing

Creating an environment where creative thinking is encouraged can greatly enhance your agency's ability to deliver unique and effective solutions for your clients. One way to do this is by allowing any member of your team to launch new creative tests.

By implementing a reward system, you can incentivize your team to come up with new ideas and approaches. This not only boosts your agency's creative output but also fosters a culture of innovation and collaboration.

Incentive-Based Compensation for Employees

An incentive-based compensation model can be another powerful strategy to boost productivity and creativity within your agency. By aligning the incentives of your employees with the goals of your agency, you can motivate your team to perform at their best.

This approach not only benefits the agency but also the employees, as they get rewarded for their contributions. It fosters a sense of ownership and commitment among your team, leading to increased morale, job satisfaction, and productivity.

Advice for Aspiring Paid Social Agencies

If you're aspiring to run a successful paid social agency, here are some key pieces of advice that can guide your journey.

Focus is Absolute

In the dynamic landscape of paid social advertising, it's easy to get distracted by the numerous opportunities that present themselves. However, maintaining a laser-sharp focus on what you do best is key to achieving outstanding results. By specializing in a specific area, your agency can become a go-to expert in that field, which can significantly enhance your credibility and attract more clients.

Know Your Clients

The success of a paid social campaign largely depends on how well you understand your client's industry, their business goals, their target audience, and their competition. By conducting in-depth research and analysis, your agency can develop highly tailored strategies that deliver maximum ROI for your clients.

Quality Over Quantity

While it may be tempting to take on as many clients as possible, remember that the quality of service you provide is what truly matters. Rather than spreading yourself thin over numerous clients, focus on delivering excellent results for a smaller number of clients. This approach can enhance your reputation, leading to higher client retention and referral rates.

Conclusion

In conclusion, building a successful paid social agency is indeed a journey. It requires focus, commitment, and a relentless pursuit of innovation and improvement. However, with the right strategies and a clear vision, your agency can thrive in the ever-evolving world of paid social advertising.