Social Media Planning: A 6-Step Startup Guide for B2B Marketers

Social Media Planning

As much talk as there’s been about the integration of social media into B2B communications, a lot of the companies we’ve been speaking with are still at the earliest stages of implementation, if they’ve begun at all. If this describes your firm’s situation, here are a few steps that can help you with your social media planning and determine what role it can play in your overall marketing mix.

Step One: Know Your Audience

  • What are the informational needs of your various target markets? You should examine these needs carefully, as they will drive the content you will need to engage your various audiences. Be sure to elicit input from a variety of sources, particularly your sales team.
  • Determine if your customers and/or channel partners are engaged in social media, and if so where.
  • Be sure to look beyond the obvious social platforms (i.e., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube) to see if they engage with blogs, customer forums, industry groups, etc.
  • Create customer personas for all your target markets and buying/specifying groups. The habits and needs of one audience may be very different than those of another.

Step Two: Define Your Social Objectives

  • What goals do you have for your social media program at the corporate, divisional, regional and brand levels?
    — Branding
    — Lead Generation
    — Customer service/engagement
    — Product promotions
    — Thought leadership
    — Market research
    — SEO
  • Determine how you will measure against these objectives to establish ROI.
  • Solicit input from all departmental groups.
  • Also consider the use of social media tools for internal communications.

Step Three: Identify Your Social Team

  • Identify the organizational stakeholders that will drive your social media planning, policy and implementation.
  • Determine if social media activities will be implemented at the corporate, divisional, regional, brands and/or departmental level. Clearly define roles and responsibilities accordingly.
  • Estimate the time requirements to sustain your social media activities.
  • Multiply those time estimates by a factor of two (or more).
  • Re-evaluate your resources and identify other support mechanisms (internal and external).

Step Four: Develop a Content Strategy

  • Define the content needed to meet the informational needs of each of your target groups.
  • Identify internal and external resources and create plan to generate content. Examine existing materials and tap into all your departmental resources.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities for content development and syndication.
  • Evaluate possibilities for user-generated content.
  • Present core content in a variety of ways (white papers, webinars, videos, etc.).

Step Five: Establish Your Social Policy/Policies

  • Consider the various social channels and what policy differences may be needed for each (e.g., Facebook vs. blog commenting).
  • Recognize and define the line between personal and professional social media activity.
  • If limiting general access to social media channels, define who will have access and why. (Remember customers may reference social content, so anyone with direct customer contact will need access.)
  • Examine any existing media-related policies and integrate into your social media policies as appropriate.
  • Maintain flexibility. The social media landscape is changing rapidly. At some point your policy will likely need to change as well.
  • Keep the policy simple and make it available to all employees

Step Six: Implementation

  • Be creative.
  • Have fun!
  • Integrate with your other communications activities.
  • Measure what’s important.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Adapt and adjust.


If your organization has been working on social media planning and implementation, we’d be interested in hearing about your experience. What activities have gone smoothly and what has proven to be the most challenging?


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