Many B2B companies, marketing teams, and senior level executives struggle to drive bottom-line business impact from their own efforts in Social Media Marketing. Either they start and stop, can’t drive target engagement, waste money in B2B social media advertising with no return, or just plain throw programs at the social media wall that don’t stick. As a fifteen plus year B2B Social Media Marketing professional who has worked with B2B clients of all walks of life, I would like to share some keys for driving leads from doing B2B Social Media Marketing smartly.

Most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, COOs, and CFOs would agree that without proper planning for any type of business marketing initiative, you might as well just throw your money in the garbage can. The first place for any B2B organization to start in social Media Marketing is the proper digital strategy or planning phase. When it comes to planning for B2B Social Media, the first place to start is inside the organization.

B2B Social Media roles and responsibilities must first be designated. Whether that includes outsourcing to a social media agency or a social media consultant for the heavy lifting, the internal accountability of social media marketing is a must when looking for achieving a Social ROI. The best strategy is to have the CEO or Key Executive in on the planning aspect of social media marketing. Without his or her buy in related to the vision of the organization, the program has more of a chance at failure.

Internal roles related to B2B social media vary based on the size and makeup of the organization. In general, the following social media role types can apply:

  • Content ProducerThis can be anything from a subject matter expert to a video professional whose job it is to produce effective content according to a Content Marketing Plan.
  • Social VoiceThis is the person who responds to media interviews and whose language supports the brand voice online.
  • Social Media ManagerThis is a person with real B2B social media management experience who is responsible for driving the ongoing social marketing direction and managing weekly reporting. Many times B2B organizations do not have such a person, so this is when a proven B2B social media consultant or agency can be helpful.
  • Social Media Coordinator—The coordinator is responsible for the day to day social postings and online community engagement.

A critical piece of Social ROI planning is the planning for content marketing. A content plan, as in an editorial calendar, needs to outline the types of topics and content that will support an ongoing online branding market position. It needs to also take into account content production resources, SEO strategy, and online campaigns.

Budgeting and having real social media goals are an obvious part of social planning, but it’ a piece many B2B organizations ignore. Just as with any other marketing initiative, a company should first identify what realistic goals they want to achieve, but most do not know when it comes to social media. This is why engaging a Social Media Trainer to educate key executives on how to start planning for social marketing goals is a smart move. Further, having a real budget for this practice is a commitment. If B2B social media is viewed by the organization as just “a nice to have,” the commitment will wane and positive results will be unlikely.

Finally, viewing social media marketing as online branding fuel to drive lead generation is a must for B2B organizations. A clear vision of a funnel needs to be established, and this is something a social media expert can illustrate. When thinking about the investment of social media marketing, a B2B organization needs to first take account of their current online properties and digital marketing investments. These will give an indication on how social media marketing can support these programs to drive results.

Feel free to comment and share this piece with any B2B organization seeking to understand how to drive business from B2B Social Media Marketing.