When you’re starting an agency, it’s beyond exciting to land your first client. You want to take the time to celebrate and pop some champagne before getting to work and onboarding a new social media client.
But once they say “let’s do it.” Then what?
You need to have a systemized process in place to onboard your social media clients as an agency just as you would systemize your own workflow. The more professional your social media onboarding process, the smoother an experience you and the client will have throughout. This can also help you attract more clients later when the referrals start coming in.
In this post, we’ll look at onboarding social media clients in your agency and how to streamline the process. This way you won’t find yourself struggling for information that causes your agency to delay any of their work.
1. Set Expectations
Let your clients know what to expect during the social media onboarding process.
Include in your proposal a list of what must happen and in what order it needs to happen for a smooth onboarding process. This way they’ll be reassured of your expertise and know what to expect and the time commitment it may involve.
Sometimes it will take a while for a new client to do everything you need to get started. If their approach up until this point has been taken care of on an “as needed” basis or by multiple employees, they may not even know what you need. Having a spreadsheet they can just fill in will help the process immensely!
2. Send a Contract
Before you do anything, send that contract their way or request the client’s preferred contract.
It’s common for these contracts to stipulate things like:
- Payment will be made upfront at the beginning of each month.
- Both the agency and client need 30 days in-writing notice for cancellation.
- The agency is not held responsible if someone sues a business for social content
- Often a contract includes an NDA that business information and resources won’t be shared.
- If payment is dependent upon deliverables or milestones, spell those out in the contract along with the dates your agency will need information from the client in order to honor the dates.
Consult your lawyer to help write a standard contract, preferably before you need to start the client onboarding process.
Get this signed by the client, sign it yourself, and then you can get started!
3. Send Your First Invoice
You don’t want to go through the hassle for a new client to set up their accounts and for you to gain access only to have them flake on payment.
Lay out all the options for payment in your invoice (often having multiple options like credit card, bank transfer, or instant-pay choices like PayPal make it more convenient) and set the date to be paid. Using invoicing software like Quickbooks or Freshbooks can help you look professional and automate this process.
You’re anxious to get started on the work, but get the payment first, then complete the rest of the steps. This not only sets the precedent for your first client, but ensures your agency runs itself as a business. The professionalism this step brings to the table can’t be understated.
As a reminder: If you’re working with international clients, make sure that you’ve found a way that works for them to pay you in advance. There are issues with some clients making payments depending on your two different locations.
4. Send a Questionnaire
This is my personal favorite next step. You need to send a list of questions to find out more details on what they want and how you can deliver.
Ask about everything you might need, including:
- Style guides
- Branded language
- Where they source their photos and how to access their photo accounts
- What types of promotions they’re open to running
- Who are their 3-5 main competitors and which would they like to emulate or contrast with?
- What content they prefer to use on different types of platforms, if relevant
- Anything you may need to know to develop their strategy. Think through the next few weeks of your work and try to anticipate all of their questions.
5. Gain Access to Their Social Platforms
Sometimes this is the part that takes the most time. Most clients will want you to have some sort of access and it will go faster if you can walk them through the process of how to do this.
As stated above, create a template for exactly what you need: is it a username, an email associated with the account, access to that email? In some cases like Instagram, whenever a new user or device logs into the account, you must have access to the email or phone number on the account for verification. It has to take place within a certain timeframe, so must be coordinated with the account holder.
Using third-party tools can streamline this, making it easier to onboard a client more quickly and with fewer steps.
Note that you don’t always need full admin control; often you need just enough to access analytics if that’s part of your role, manage engagement if that’s your role, and schedule posts.
Here are some simple instructions for each platform, which you can copy and make your own before you send to your clients.
As a social media marketing agency, it’s second nature to you to know where to go inside of Facebook to add permissions. But that isn’t always easy for a client to find. Make the social media onboarding process even easier for your client by showing them these screenshots.
You’ll need to send your clients instructions for how to give you access.
Tell them to go to their Business Manager account, and then click on “Pages.” This will show them their existing pages, and they can choose “Assign Partners.” This will open a tab that allows them to enter in your business ID, or send a link to your business to give them access.
The client should typically enable publishing content, and you’ll want to be able to see performance at the least. They can determine how much access you have. Make sure you explain what they should have enabled in order for you to keep up your contract.
In order to find your business ID, view your Page information in the Business Manager, and you’ll see the ID number.
After that, your business will receive a request to manage the Page. You’re in!
Twitter is one of the platforms that you can log into as long as you have the username or email address and password.
If you are using Twitter directly in the app, head down the left-hand side to “Manage accounts” and you’ll see a list of the ones you’re logged into as well as a choice to log into more.
My colleague shared with us an example of the Twitter accounts she logs into via the app:
Depending on your agency’s role with this client, managing their Twitter account may be most effective with third-party tools like Hootsuite or Agorapulse. For these, just one set of login credentials can give you access to multiple social media accounts and their analytics. As a social media agency, investing these tools is almost always worthwhile.
Instagram is the trickiest social media platform if your client just uses the native app.
As expressed above, whoever holds the keys to the Instagram account needs to be ready to approve a new user logging into the app within a certain timeframe or it times out and you start over. Often a client might not even know whose phone number is connected to the account, so they try to put it off or connect you with a past employee or intern.
An easier way to connect everything in the long term is to use Facebook Business Suite or to use those third-party tools. Once again, your client needs their Instagram password, but this only takes two steps.
If your client logs into their Facebook account, then Business Suite on the left, you’ll be prompted to log into Instagram if you haven’t connected them already.
Click “Get Started” and you’ll be prompted to enter your Instagram password, and you’re in!
The Facebook Business Suite allows you to choose between posting just on Facebook, adjusting it for both Facebook and Instagram or posting it outright on Instagram.
WIth YouTube, the manager of the account can add different users to the account.
To do this, navigate to your YouTube Creator’s Studio. Click “Settings” and then find “Permissions,” and then click “Invite.”
Enter the agency’s email address, and assign them a role. Note that no one can delete the channel, but it’s often advised to give most agencies the “Editor” role so they can’t add or remove others.
6. Confirm Your Strategy & Dive In
Most social media marketers will develop a custom strategy, which is client approved and then you get started. It helps to have your agency’s next steps arranged in templates that can be altered for each client: how you like to begin collecting assets, how to dig deeper into their audience personas, how to create partnerships.
This is a good time to clear up any questions they may have, and to show them some sample posts for approval to make sure you’re on the right track.
Find out what days are best for check-ins and approvals, who will be your agency’s direct collaborator, and what sort of analytics they want to see on their monthly reports (also which ones you know they’ll need even if they don’t). Make sure that the client is comfortable with the agreed-upon schedule for deliverables, which may include strategy reviews, post approvals, and analytics or reporting sent.
Again, this is a crucial period to confirm that everyone is on the same page, so circle back to the expectations and make sure that you’re ready to get started.
The best approach for an agency when it comes to social media clients onboarding is to have all of the necessary paperwork finished before you need to send it. The more prepared your agency is, the more your new client understands that at least in the onboarding part of the plan, they are active participants who need to welcome you into their accounts with open arms and ready passwords.
The best way to start the relationship off right is to send the client everything they will need in order to assist with their onboarding and set a time to walk through it together. Your more advanced clients can take your instructions and run with it; some newer brands will need a little hand-holding. But the more organized and helpful you are through the process, the better your relationship will work in the long term.
Remember, the first client you sign is cause for celebration indeed. The train doesn’t stop there, however; they are your ticket to more referrals and more gainful clients down the road. Embrace the opportunity to finesse how you onboard a new social media client so that everyone is happy with their experience.