Is SMMA Model Dead in 2024? 6 Factors To Consider for a Thriving Business

March 29, 2024

No, the SMMA model isn't dead in 2023 because many successful SMMA owners earn 5 to 6 figures monthly, like Joel Kaplan and Jordan Platten. Young SMMA owners like 19-year-old Tony Le and 18-year-old Ben Smith also reported earning $300K-$480K a year in SMMA.

Many people are asking: is SMMA model dead in 2023? SMMA or Social Media Marketing Agency remains viable for those looking to make money online. The reason is that businesses are now embracing social media in marketing. Sprout Social's latest data shows that social media has overtaken paid search with $137 billion compared to search's $135 billion. Also, among social media platforms, Sprout reports that Instagram "is the king of social selling," offering the highest ROI.

However, while social media marketing is growing in popularity, the SMMA business model has a low barrier to entry, making it susceptible to saturation and difficulty in acquiring and retaining clients. If you're looking to take the SMMA road to becoming a millionaire, it'd be impossible unless you're a learning machine, says prominent SMMA course creator Tai Lopez. To succeed in the SMMA industry, you need to learn effective strategies for client retention, engage in social selling/networking, and embrace the need for technological adoption. You must also upskill, master content development, and measure your executions through data-backed online performance metrics.

In this article, we'll learn why the SMMA model isn't dead, why SMMA businesses fail, and the 6 factors to consider for a thriving SMMA business in 2023. We will also cover SMMA success stories and the common SMMA FAQs for beginners. At the end of this article, you'll discover a more alive and profitable business model than SMMA: local lead generation.

Top SMMA Statistics That Prove SMMA is Not Dead in 2023

Despite the increased competition and the changing SMMA landscape, the social media marketing agency business still holds potential and is still alive in 2023. DataReportal’s 2023 data shows that the social media user base is growing globally, with about 5.30 billion internet users and 4.95 billion social media users. This number offers business owners and social media marketing agencies a vast potential customer base. Forbes also reported that global ad spending on social media is projected to reach $295 billion in 2023, with a year-on-year growth of 13.4%. This report indicates that companies investing in social media marketing are increasing, opening opportunities for SMMA owners.

On August 31, 2023, Statista published a report saying that the US leads the global market for social media advertising, posting a total expenditure of $72.3 billion in 2023, followed by China and the UK. The same report states that among marketers, Facebook rules, with 89% using it for marketing. However, more business owners are having difficulty finding clients because the social media marketing industry has grown very competitive. A client or a business owner is more likely to get the same pitch and the same business offers from several agencies. 

To achieve success in getting more clients, Gabriel Segall, an SMMA owner based in Madrid, Spain, shared that the best way is to use organic content and paid ads. Harold Alvarez from Miami, Florida, started SMMA in May 2022, and he said he’s been using Instagram DMs to reach clients. Harold agrees that ads are also great to increase income and suggests trying cold calling if you’re good at sales. 

4 Reasons Some People Believe SMMA is Dead in 2023

  • Oversaturation. In 2019, Reinis Krumins, co-founder of aJR, an email marketing agency in Riga, Latvia, said the low barrier to entry in SMMA results in oversaturation. SMMAs tend to use the same tactics and pitches, providing mediocre service. This low-quality drives down prices and makes it hard for SMMA owners to stand out. In addition, Kyndall Ramirez, a growth marketer in ConversionXL, adds that creating new and unique content is a real challenge for marketers. Kyndall added that being stuck in a routine of repetitive content is easy.
  • Lack of quality. Quality is correlated with customer satisfaction. But with a low barrier to entry, Semrush's study in 2023 shows 44% of respondents attributed success to improving the quality and value of their content. To achieve quality, you need to know what your customers want. Kyle Byers, Semrush Director of Organic Search says a key to succeeding in content marketing in 2023 is understanding your audience's needs and values. 
  • Shifting client needs. Each update in social media affects the needs of clients. With the dynamic social media platforms, meeting the client's needs is one of the biggest challenges for SMMA owners. For instance, Chamcham Gumin, a social media strategist, shared that when Twitter limited auto-cross-promotion of the same content or tweet on different Twitter accounts, they had to think and act fast, otherwise they won't have anything to post is some accounts they handle. When you can meet the client's needs, customer satisfaction increases. According to customer experience research, consulting, and training firm Temkin Group, companies earning $1 billion yearly that invest in customer experience can achieve an additional $700 million within 3 years. A recent survey among 1,920 business professionals by SuperOffice showed that customer experience is the number 1 priority of businesses for the next 5 years. 
  • Changes in algorithms. Algorithms influence how your target audience sees your content. That’s why keeping up with the updates in algorithms is crucial for SMMA owners. David Leonhardt, the President of The Happy Guy Writing Services, shared to Statusbrew that he considers keeping track of the algorithms the biggest challenge for social media marketers. He added that “[o]n Twitter, it’s how to keep track of the follow and unfollow limits and what number of each in what period will trigger a locked account.” In January 2022, SmartBrief reported that the frequency of Google algorithm updates as per experts is between 500-600 times yearly. The chart below shows Google’s major algorithm updates since 2012. From 2019 until 2020, the algorithms involved Content Relevance and Content Quality. 

Is SMMA Dead or Alive? Comparing Different Opinions

There are two opposing opinions on the status of the SMMA business model. Some prominent marketers, like Tai Lopez, Montell Gordon, and Iman Gazhi, explain that SMMA is still alive. Still, you need to level up your strategies as the traditional way of doing SMMA business isn’t as effective as before. Here’s a comparison of the different opinions on the viability of the SMMA model in 2023.

SMMA is alive

Thriving market in social media. Despite its low-barrier to entry, there is still a thriving market in social media. The latest data from Statista this December showed social media ad spend in 2023 is at $270 billion and the expenditure is expected to surpass the $300-billion mark by 2024. Grand View Research also reported that the adoption of social media is seen to grow the fastest (28%) among other segments adopted by businesses for digital transformation, such as cybersecurity and cloud computing. This growth is credited to the growing utilization of social media to reach potential audiences and improve brand representation. 

Businesses need SMMAs. Those supportive of the business model, there will always be businesses needing SMMA. This is related to the first reason that there is a thriving market for SMMA owners. While the use of social media is growing in popularity, businesses are still more likely to work with freelancers (SMMA owners) than set up an in-house team because of the cost. Data from the Small Business Administration shows that normally the cost of hiring an in-house employee is 1.25 to 1.4 times more than the employee’s salary because of insurance and other fees, taxes, and bonuses. 

SMMA is dead

Oversaturation. The most common reason for the non-viability of the SMMA business model is its oversaturation. Reinis Kumins of Swimleads explains that because of its low barrier to entry, more people enter SMMA providing the same services. This leads to price competition and most SMMA owners fail because “they are being sold a dream of them being able to get a ton of money quickly, with almost no work.” 

Low quality. Because of its low barrier to entry, sustainability issues arise. There’s a tendency that business owners receive the same offer, using the same sales pitch, and scripts from SMMA owners, particularly those who are still new to the market. Montell Gordon, an SMMA owner and creator of 6 Figure Name from the United Kingdom, explains that people are offering over 500 cold outreaches everyday resulting in “wilder and wilder guarantees.” Montell said even with free trials, it’s become difficult to find clients. 

Is the SMMA model dead? Top Answers From Quora

The SMMA model is not dead based on the top answers from Quora. Social media and digital creator Ali Mirza says the SMMA business model is not dead. Ali believes social media tools and platforms are changing fast, and businesses don’t have time to keep up. Companies would need the right SMMA partner who understands their brand and audience. 

Latoya Bambo, a copywriter and digital marketer from New York City, says that while it has changed through the years, SMMA is not dead. Latoya said there are new and improved platforms, and algorithms constantly evolve. This dynamic, she adds, shows that there is still a high demand for social media marketing. 

Another professional digital marketer says that while there is increased competition in the SMMA industry, there are still plenty of opportunities for SMMA owners because of a demand for high-quality social media marketing services, customized solutions, and deeper analysis of social media metrics. 

Is the SMMA model dead? Top Answers From Reddit

Top answers from Reddit show different opinions on the question, “is the SMMA model dead?”. The first answer from Reddit is from a Redditor named Ggildner, who says the SMMA model “wasn’t ever alive to begin with.” Ggildner explains that the SMMA model sold by “gurus” is not sustainable.  

Another Redditor says SMMA is “never a model to begin with.” The commenter adds that the term “SMMA” is just “a catchy wannabe flex” by influencers trying to sell you a course.

Meanwhile, a Redditor named Boop_boo12 shares that SMM is not necessarily dead, and it is an interesting model with several new platforms available. The Redditor says you may fail when starting an agency without experience because of the competition. The Redditor adds that sometimes you might pitch with 15 other SMMA owners. 

6 Factors To Consider for a Thriving SMMA in 2023

1. Client Retention

Client retention is an essential element for an SMMA to thrive in 2023. It is about nurturing long-lasting relationships with high-value clients. Satisfied clients can help in advertising the agency to new leads by recommending its services to other businesses. According to Precision Marketing, the average agency-client relationship spans 3.2 years, a duration that is even shorter in the small to medium-size market. Implementing tools like Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys can enhance client satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. Collecting feedback through NPS surveys not only gauges customer satisfaction, but it also provides valuable insights for refining services. It also solidifies the agency’s brand, attracting more people to inquire about your SMMA business.

2. Social Selling/Networking

Social selling and networking are powerful sales tactics to gain leverage on  competitors in 2023. One pro tip is that social selling strategies, such as social media marketing and influencer marketing, improve the visibility of your agency and enable it to stay current on industry trends, business practices, and service offerings. HubSpot reports that 61% of organizations engaged in social selling achieve revenue growth. LinkedIn’s 2022 data also underscores the influence of social selling leaders. They generate 45% more opportunities and have 51% higher likelihood of meeting quotas. Networking and sharing of experience in a social media platform boosts the success of SMMA professionals.

3. Technological Adoptions

Marketing professionals should embrace technological advancements and use new online software, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. Sprout Social reports that 71% of marketers have integrated ML and AI tools and ML tools into their processes. These tools can help save hours from your day-to-day work in 2023. Peter Loibl, Content Marketing Institute’s head of sales, believes that the marketing community will eventually see AI “as a work assistant instead of a job assassin.” 

A poll among 317 marketers conducted by SOCi Inc., a technology company in San Diego, California, found that 47% of marketers use AI for ad targeting and 46% for content marketing. The same survey shows that only 4% of marketers are not using AI tools and do not plan to, while 14% of AI non-users plan to use AI tools.

Technology facilitates automation, streamlines tasks, and ensures efficiency across various aspects of social media marketing. The most popular and effective social media management tools are the following:

  1. Hootsuite. Hootsuite stands out with its user base of over 18 million customers. As of 2023, it incorporates OwlyWriter AI, an in-app AI tool designed to enhance social captions, generate content based on links, and propose post ideas based on keywords.

  2. Brandwatch. Known for social analytics, Brandwatch equips SMMA professionals with tools for social listening, historical data analysis, and benchmarking against competitors. This platform offers comprehensive insights to inform and refine social media strategies.

  3. Magic Studio. This AI image generator caters specifically to visual content needs. Whether creating or fine-tuning product photos or meeting broader brand requirements, this tool empowers SMMA professionals to seamlessly create compelling and visually appealing content.

Incorporating an effective automation platform and social media software into daily operations enhances the agency's efficiency and yields tangible results.

4. Upskilling

Upskilling is important for the continued growth of SMMA professionals, enabling them to acquire new skills and digital marketing strategies in 2023. The widespread availability of free and paid online courses makes expertise easier to access. The World Economic Forum emphasizes the imperative of upskilling with its projection that over half of the global workforce will be required to upskill or reskill by 2025 to align with the evolving nature of jobs. Crucially, the Forum identifies creativity, originality, initiative, and technology use and development among the top 10 skills of 2025—skills instrumental to SMMA professionals' effectiveness.

Among the many video or blended courses available, noteworthy options include:

  1. Social Media Marketing Masterclass by Udemy. This course guides learners in developing a comprehensive social media marketing plan for their business. 
  2. Mastering TikTok by Skillshare. Participants will learn the essentials of shooting, editing, and optimizing TikToks for increased views and effective navigation of the TikTok ecosystem.
  3. Retention and Engagement by Reforge. This course provides learners with proven frameworks to effectively retain, activate, and engage users in digital marketing strategies.
  4. Marketing: Copywriting for Social Media by LinkedIn Learning. Participants will gain valuable insights into writing compelling social media copy for effective communication with their target audience. 
  5. Meta Blueprint Marketing Courses for Businesses by Meta. This set of courses offers insights into critical aspects such as crafting a business story, understanding target audiences, setting goals, and planning social media content, aligning with Meta's marketing strategies. 

These courses, offered by industry experts and gurus, cover diverse aspects, from crafting a comprehensive social media marketing plan to mastering the intricacies of TikTok and refining user engagement strategies.

5. Content Development

Focusing on content development is necessary for scaling operations effectively. Content quality and engagement level directly influence the likelihood of converting potential clients within the target audience. Recognizing that readers might be future clients should fuel the consistent creation of high-quality social media content. A survey from Semrush reveals that the most impactful factors in boosting success in content marketing are creating more content (55%), improving quality (53%), and producing research-driven output (37%).

Looking ahead to 2024, the Content Marketing Institute predicts that while AI will play a supporting role, it cannot replace the creative thinking of marketing professionals. Generative AI, while valuable, can assist with 25-50% of the job but is not a complete substitute, as human-written content will remain indispensable. Additionally, the dominance of short videos on social media platforms, extending to B2B businesses, is expected to continue, reaffirming the need to use diverse content strategies for any marketing strategy.

6. Online Performance Metrics

Closely monitoring online websites and performance metrics is a critical practice for SMMA professionals seeking continuous improvement in their operations in 2023. This process serves as a compass to identify areas for enhancement, strengths to bolster, and practices to eliminate. For social media campaigns, key metrics provide insights into the effectiveness of strategies, such as:

  • Reach. It measures the number of people exposed to your account's content and reveals its shareability and algorithm performance.

  • Engagement rate. This encompasses reactions, comments, and shares and serves as a quantitative gauge of audience interaction, with Hootsuite recommends the following calculation of the average engagement rate:
  • Amplification rate. This refers to a ratio of shares per post to overall followers and is relevant on platforms like Facebook. Hootsuite further offers benchmarks for Facebook amplification rates across various sectors:
  • Education: 0.05%
  • Financial services: 0.06%
  • Government: 0.06%
  • Healthcare/Wellness: 0.08%
  • Travel/hospitality/leisure: 0.03%

Consistent monitoring and interpretation of metrics helps SMMA professionals refine their strategies and optimize their online performance effectively.

Why Do SMMA Businesses Fail in 2023?

SMMA businesses fail in 2023 because of a lack of focus, inadequate marketing and sales strategies to get clients, and lack of quality content creation and management. Here’s what you need to avoid as an agency owner:

  • Lack of focus. SMMA businesses can fail because of a lack of focus and a clear target audience. Lack of focus happens when you offer everyone a broad range of services. It dilutes your expertise and causes an inability to cater to specific needs, leading to poor client acquisition, ineffective marketing campaigns, and business failure. In addition, HubSpot reports that in 2023, less than half of marketers know their target audience, including their interests and hobbies, products they are interested in buying, purchase history, shopping habits, and their pain points or challenges. The data below shows that only 45% of marketers know their audience’s interests and hobbies, while only 29% know the challenges faced by their target audience.
  • Inadequate marketing and sales strategies to get clients. Chidubem Okoye Dumdum, a customer acquisition and conversion specialist from Lagos, Nigeria, listed four common mistakes SMMA owners make, including: 

    • Not having enough exposure or outreach

    • Not doing follow-ups

    • Failure to overcome fear

    • Surrendering 

    These four mistakes can be related to inadequate marketing and sales strategies. A marketing agency needs effective strategies to build a successful SMMA business. Most beginners jump in without sound strategies to attract and convert clients. Jack Duke, founder of Digital Social Stars Inc., shared that many people fail SMMA because they lack or can’t find clients. SMMA is a sales business, and you must introduce yourself as an expert. This way, clients will be interested in your offers or attending the scheduled call. 

    Jordan Platten of adds that many agency owners change scripts for cold calls after one or five calls and use a different script for meetings. Some beginners do not work around a script to master it. “You need to stick to one,” says Jordan. 

  • Lack of consistent and quality content creation and management. Content Marketing Institute’s B2C Content Marketing Insights for 2023 found that 70% of B2C marketers believe content marketing has become more important in their organization over the previous year. However, many SMMA businesses fail because of poor content creation skills, inconsistency, or lack of strategic direction. A study by Venngage, a data visualization company, shows that in 2021, 31.8% of marketers struggled to produce content consistently, while 26.% had difficulty sourcing data and statistics that could be used for their output. When left unresolved, these problems can lead to low engagement, ineffective campaigns, and unhappy clients.

Does SMMA work in 2023?

Yes, SMMA works in 2023 for those up for the challenge of staying in the know of latest social media marketing trends, algorithms, effective platforms for certain brands, and so much more. Since 2013, the demand for social media marketing is growing, with 92.1% of US marketers using it to promote their brands in 2022 per Statista’s data. SMMAs are needed more than ever and to make SMMA work you must focus on what you’re good at, develop an expertise, and deliver high-quality service to clients. According to Megan Grant, the owner of Spark Content Agency from Las Vegas, Nevada, “if you try to tackle everything, you’re going to be mediocre at best.”

Is the SMMA Business Model Profitable in 2023?

Yes, the SMMA business model is profitable in 2023 because successful SMMA owners can earn up to $83,000 a month, like Liam Casey, the director and founder of Reliable Leads. Liam is based in Brisbane, Australia, and he shared that their agency, which focuses on the real estate business niche, tried earning this amount for 6 to 8 months. They now earn between $45,000 to $55,000 monthly. 

The average monthly income of SMMA owners is between $5,000 and $15,000 monthly or $60,000 to $180,000 yearly, according to Social Media Examiner's 2023 report. According to Social Media Examiner's 2023 report, SMMA owners earn an average monthly income of $5,000 to $15,000 or $60,000 to $180,000 yearly. Top earners can even earn $25,000 monthly. 

The SMMA business model's profitability can be attributed to the high business demand for social media marketing and low overhead costs. 

Using Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or other paid ads can also increase your revenue as an SMMA owner. Sprout Social's study found that 70% of marketers plan to increase their social media ad spend in 2023. Statista also reported that ad spending in social media advertising will reach $207.1 billion in 2023. You'll have additional income sources and growth potential by offering ad management services to these companies and other organic social media strategies to clients.

SMMA Success Stories

Jordan Platten from Norwich, England, United Kingdom): Jordan is the founder of and, an e-learning and multi-service digital marketing agency business. He grew his agency from $0 to $100K a month. He also created the Affluent.Academy (now Affluent Academy 3.0), which provides training for aspiring agency owners. Jordan’s first YouTube Channel - Jordan Platten, has over 285K subscribers. For Jordan Platten, having a lot of support and somebody to hold them accountable makes agency owners successful.

Liam Casey from Brisbane, Australia, founded Reliable Leads. His agency focuses on the real estate niche and has achieved consistent monthly earnings of $45,000-$55,000. Liam attended Jordan Platten’s course. The highest earnings his agency earned reached $83K in a month and it ran until 6 months before going down to the $45K-$55K monthly range. 

Joel Kaplan from Denver, Colorado, United States, founded Agency Labs in 2019. He offers a free course on SMMA that you can access via his YouTube channel. He is also the CEO of RISE Mastermind, a monthly mastermind for entrepreneurs. Joel shared that his agency could earn $250K a month after discovering how to maximize paid ads (and spending $5K). His channel has over 240K subscribers.


What is SMMA?

SMMA is the acronym for social media marketing agency, a company that offers various services, including email marketing, content creation, community management, and platform audits or consulting sessions. It is basically marketing as a service using social media marketing tools. The main goal of an SMMA is to help clients align their social media marketing strategies with business objectives, achieving revenue targets through enhanced brand awareness. 

Is It Hard To Run an SMMA?

Yes, it is hard to run an SMMA, especially in a very crowded market where most agency owners deliver the same sales pitch and offers. To run an SMMA successfully, you need to master social media marketing, pick a profitable niche, develop your expertise in your chosen niche, and work hard to create unique offers. Toronto-based SMMA owner Evan Vance shares that he works 13-14 hours daily. He regularly checks YouTube comments, ran through CRM, and tracks how many leads came in and where they were from. Part of his day also involves managing paid ads and attending coaching, client, or sales calls. Plus, he had to handle the training of his appointment setters. SMMA owners also have to manage content creation, so, like Evan, you might need to add planning YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram content to your schedule.

Is SMMA Saturated in 2023?

Yes, SMMA is saturated compared to 2006 and 2012, when social media platforms started or expanded. However, SMMA is not yet oversaturated to the point that you won’t be able to find any more clients, or you won’t find success. According to Kai Bax, an SMMA owner from the Greater Perth Area in Australia and founder of, you need to find profitable niches not yet saturated in 2023. Kai says the local lead generation niche is one of those niches. In particular, you may look at the deck and fence companies, CPA or tax service firms, window cleaning companies, and home-cleaning companies. Kai believes an untapped local lead generation industry is “by far the best niche today.” You’d get more opportunities in niches that are underserved compared to those that have too many competitors.

What is the Future of SMMA?

Seamless shopping and influencer marketing are the future of SMMA and SMMA business owners should consider aligning their strategies to these latest trends if they want their clients to achieve more success. Consumer trends show that people from Gen Z prefer to find new products on social media. Approximately 130 million people a month interact with shoppable Instagram posts. Research further reveals that 40% of Instagram users purchase a product online or offline after seeing it on the platform. Social media makes shopping more accessible to consumers.

Meanwhile, brands use the most recognizable faces online for promotion through influencer marketing. The global influencer marketing market value is $21.1 billion as of 2023. This can be attributed to the fact that 92% of consumers trust influencer marketing more than traditional advertising. SocialPilot also reported that TikTok is the most preferred platform for influencer marketing, with 55.5% of brands favoring it over other platforms.

Why Local Lead Generation is More Alive and Profitable Than SMMA in 2023

Local lead generation is more alive and profitable than SMMA in 2024 because of its low barrier to entry that gives beginners the edge to succeed in unities for earning passive income. Unlike the more saturated SMMA market, local lead generation offers an untapped market of local businesses looking to increase their leads. According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy, the number of small businesses in the US is 33,185,550. As you select the right niche, you can narrow down the competition even more. 

In addition, SMMA business owners face many challenges because of the wider scope of work that social media marketing entails. The Social Media CEO, a resource provider for social media managers, says that SMMA owners may provide many services, such as social media management, email marketing, content creation, and content marketing. They may also offer community management and platform audits and consulting. 

However, Social Media Today reported that 40 of the 65 social media managers they surveyed ran the business independently, and finding the time for everything is the no. 1 challenge. Look at this comment by Robin Selvy Re, the VP for Marketing at Industry Drive from Washington, District of Columbia. Robin shared that balancing quantity with quality is challenging. Unless you already have a team, starting an SMMA business can overwhelm you with the volume of work required by clients. 

Local lead generation‌ focuses on the ranking of a website. Although you need to master ranking skills, you do not need prior technical experience. Plus, this is where the advantage of local lead generation lies. Since local lead generation is a skill set, not everyone can enter the business, lowering the competition. After ranking the site through Google’s organic ranking, you get to choose which local business will use or rent your digital asset. The tree care site above is just one of the over 80 websites I built over the years. Since 2015, I have earned up to $2,000 monthly, steady passive income from that site. Again, you own these digital assets, giving you leverage in pricing and business control. Take advantage of this more profitable, predictable, and scalable income source and learn about the local lead generation biz model.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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