Building a social media growth strategy is easier said than done. And even with a dedicated team and some of the best social media management software out there, crafting a winning social media marketing plan can still feel challenging.
That said, 60% of U.S. marketers agree social media is the most effective B2B channel for revenue growth. To compete and scale, your brand must exist on social media, be visible and engaged, and provide real value to your target audience.
Today, we’ll cover building such social growth strategies. It starts by setting clear goals, understanding your audience, and selecting your business's best social media platforms.
Step One: Align Social Media Goals With Business Objectives
Treating social media like a lottery is a surefire way to limit your success. Still, 60% of content marketers don’t have a documented content strategy. This means businesses chase virality, views, or followers without understanding why.
The key is to connect your social media efforts with specific business goals. Having clear goals for your social strategy helps you:
- Structure your team workflow
- Manage your budgets
- Understand the ROI of your social media strategy
- Align your social media plans with your broader digital marketing efforts
Pro tip: Don’t complicate your goals! Start by setting one goal per social campaign and one key performance indicator (KPI) per social channel. Here are some to pick from.
When launching products or breaking into a new market, increasing brand awareness is often necessary to educate potential customers on who you are, what you do, and why they should care. Brand awareness focuses on:
- Introducing new products
- Increasing knowledge of products and services
- Expanding audience reach
- Supporting brand recall in purchase decisions
On social media, you track an increase in brand awareness via the following metrics:
- Mentions: Instances where your brand is mentioned by users on social media, offering insights into how often consumers talk about your brand and its visibility.
- Reach: The total number of unique users who have seen your content, indicating the potential size of your audience and exposure.
- Follower growth: The increase in new followers on your social media accounts.
- Website traffic: Monitors the traffic directed to your website from social media channels using a tool like Google Analytics to track click-through rates (CTR).
Social media engagement is a beacon for platform algorithms – the higher the engagement rate, the more likely the algorithm is to push your social media content to a broader audience.
Social engagement indicates that your content resonates with audiences, crucial to building trust and credibility.
Social media metrics that track audience engagement include:
- Comments: Meaningful comments indicate active participation and interest in your content.
- Likes: The number of likes reflects the overall positive reception of your posts, serving as a quick gauge of audience sentiment.
- Shares: Shares extend the reach of your content beyond your immediate audience, amplifying your brand's visibility and influence.
- Saves: The number of saves indicates users find your content valuable enough to bookmark, showcasing its long-term relevance.
- Direct messages: Personal interactions through direct messages offer a more intimate connection, allowing for personalized engagement and relationship-building
- Clicks: Tracking clicks on your content provides insights into the level of interest and engagement, guiding your strategy for creating more high-quality content.
Social media is a lucrative channel for B2B lead generation, with 40% of marketers citing LinkedIn as their most effective channel for generating high-quality leads.
Why social media is excellent for lead generation:
- Improved lead conversion rates: Social media platforms are fertile ground to engage and nurture potential leads, increasing the likelihood of conversion when the time is right.
- Cost-efficiency: Using social media for lead generation can decrease the average cost-per-lead significantly. For Collective Data, a fleet management SaaS company, lead generation on social media resulted in a 70% decrease in average cost-per-lead.
- Real-time interaction: Social media enables real-time engagement with prospects, fostering a direct and immediate connection that traditional lead generation methods may lack.
Step Two: Select The Best Social Media Platforms For Your Goals
The right social media platform depends on your business goal, audience, and available resources. Here’s what I mean.
Do You Understand Your Audience?
Before investing in social platforms, spend time on audience research. Identify the demographics, preferences, and behaviors of your target audience.
Are they drawn to visual content on platforms like Instagram? Do they engage in professional discussions on LinkedIn? Knowing your audience's digital habitat will guide you toward platforms where your brand can resonate most effectively.
When conducting audience research, focus on:
- Demographics: Identify the age, gender, location, and other demographic details of your target audience.
- Interests and hobbies: Understand the interests, hobbies, and activities that resonate with your audience.
- Behavioral patterns: Analyze online behaviors, such as the platforms they frequent, the content they engage with, and the time of day they are most active.
- Challenges and pain points: Identify your audience's challenges and pain points, as your content should provide solutions or address these issues.
- Preferred content types: Determine the types of content your audience prefers, whether it's blog posts, videos, images, or infographics.
Do You Have the Resources and Bandwidth for Your Preferred Social Channels?
When selecting the key social channels in your social marketing plan, you must consider the differing content demands, resources, and talent required for each platform.
Take TikTok, for example. As a video-first platform, TikTok demands frequent, engaging videos with an authentic human touch. To create high-quality TikTok content, you’ll require creators who are excellent on camera and knowledgeable in video editing, scripting, and platform trends.
Then there’s the question of where your creative talent will come from. Will you tap into freelancers or rely on an in-house team? Considering these nuances is vital to align your resources with the demands of your chosen social networks.
Finally, Select Your Social Platforms
As a business networking platform, LinkedIn is your go-to social platform for creating B2B influencer marketing partnerships and achieving B2B marketing goals. Four out of five LinkedIn users make business decisions for their organization, with higher buying power than average social users.
For example, Hubspot reports their customers average a 9% conversion rate on LinkedIn, while Google Search delivers a much lower 2.58% average conversion rate.
Business goals perfect for LinkedIn: B2B lead generation, targeted advertising, and networking with decision-makers.
What performs best:
- Long-form content like articles and whitepapers.
- Industry insights, case studies, and success stories.
- Visuals, infographics, carousels.
- Sponsored messaging.
- Sponsored in-feed content.
While B2B companies pull in more followers on LinkedIn, Instagram drives 20 times more engagement than LinkedIn for B2B companies.
Instagram is also a powerful tool for paid advertising campaigns. For example, the B2B tech brand Appsee produced a 3.4x higher click-through rate with ads in Instagram Stories.
Business goals perfect for Instagram: Customer engagement, paid advertising, and developing an authentic brand voice.
What performs best:
- Instagram Reels.
- High-quality visuals and memes
- Ads, both in-feed and on Stories.
- Behind-the-scenes, culture, and employee spotlights in Stories.
- User-generated content.
SaaS decision-makers spend 74% more time on Facebook daily than other users. Shopify is an excellent example of a company that has taken full advantage. They saw a 16% increase in customer acquisition using Facebook.
Business goals perfect for Facebook: Establishing brand identity, community engagement, and targeted advertising.
What performs best:
- Videos, user-generated content, and product photos.
- Community engagement through groups, discussions, or Facebook Live.
- Behind-the-scenes content shared on Facebook Stories.
TikTok is a rising social media star. Recent data shows that short-form video delivers the highest ROI of any social media strategy. Brands like Adobe have leveraged the impressive audience reach on TikTok to drive 16,000 more website clicks (and over a million views) at just $0.19 per click.
Business goals perfect for TikTok: Brand awareness, cost-effective ad campaigns, building trust and authenticity, and connecting with younger audiences.
What performs best:
- Human-focused, authentic storytelling
- Education and informative videos
- Platform-specific trends, humor
- User-generated content, behind-the-scenes showcases.
- Spark Ads.
X (formerly Twitter)
X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, is expected to grow to 340 million users by 2024. For B2B tech marketers, X presents a unique opportunity to connect with tech-focused communities. In the U.S., 23% of Twitter users list their job titles on their profiles, and X Lists provide tools to help you segment audiences based on this information.
Business goals perfect for X: Real-time conversations, industry updates, and engaging with a tech-savvy audience.
What performs best:
- Short, engaging content for quick consumption.
- Hosting Twitter Chats for industry discussions and customer engagement.
- Threads, microblogging, and thought leadership.
- Promoted Tweets or Twitter ads.
Step Three: Apply Winning Social Media Strategies For Growth
Here’s what I’ve learned from building social growth strategies for brands like Career Contessa and ABC Trainerize: use the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of causes.
So, take our best social media marketing tips and focus on the tried and true tactics marketers use today. This includes prioritizing a few channels, optimizing for social search, A/B testing, and more that we’ll get into below!
Focus on a Few Social Channels
You do not need to be omnipresent. A strong social media presence is necessary, yes. But not on every single channel.
Instead, select a few key social media channels to prioritize. Again, this is where audience research is critical. By pinpointing where your audience lives on social media, you can focus on the platforms that matter most.
For example, 23% of marketers believe Instagram is the best platform for audience growth. In my experience, this holds true – Instagram Reels alone have helped my clients expand their reach by nearly 115%.
Optimize Your Social Presence for Search
Currently, 40% of GenZ social media users turn to Instagram or TikTok for research, including products, travel, restaurants, reviews, and more. And it gets better: Google is negotiating partnerships to index videos from TikTok and Instagram within Search.
SEO has come to social media channels.
Social SEO involves adding text-based elements such as captions, alt-text, and subtitles to your social content. This practice enhances the discoverability of your content on social platforms.
To optimize your social presence for search, you must:
- Optimize your entire profile: Add keywords to your bio, name, and handle to improve SEO for your social media account. On LinkedIn, be sure your tagline and about section include keywords that speak to your value proposition.
- Leverage your caption and hashtags: Keywords in your caption and relevant hashtags improve your social search visibility. A best practice is to include both in your caption.
- Include subtitles and in-video text: For video content like TikToks or Reels, utilize subtitles and in-video text to insert target keywords.
- Add alt-text: On Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, alt-text provides an opportunity to make your content more accessible. But it also offers a chance to include more keywords and increase your search visibility.
Pick the Right Type of Content Format
Not all content is created equal. Social media content formats yielding the best results for B2B marketers in 2023 are:
- Short-form Video: 33% of marketers say short-form video produces the best ROI on social media.
- Free resources: Resources like whitepapers and ebooks drive results for 43% of B2B marketers surveyed.
- Influencer/User-Generated Content (UGC): Social proof on social media? A match made in heaven! User-generated content produces 6.9x more engagement than branded content, and 72% of B2B brands say influencer marketing delivers high-quality customers.
A/B Test Your Content
A/B testing, or split testing, is testing minor variations of the same ad or content to determine the most effective format. A/B testing is a powerful strategy for increasing conversion rates and revenue generation through social media ads.
A/B testing can boost your conversion rates – B2B coffee supplier BLISS saw a 2.5X increase after split testing their lead generation ads on Instagram.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering: what can you A/B test on social?
- Post text: Test character length, emoji use, punctuation, and tone of voice.
- Calls to action (CTA): Experiment with various CTAs to gauge which prompts resonate most effectively with your audience.
- Visual elements: Try different visual formats, like infographics, videos, GIFs, photos of people, or photos of products.
- Ad formats: Each social platform has multiple ad formats available. For example, LinkedIn supports single-image ads, carousel ads, video ads, and sponsored messaging.
- Hashtags: Test the use of hashtags in your posts. Assess whether specific hashtags enhance discoverability and engagement.
- Target audiences: Experiment with variations in demographics, interests, and behaviors to pinpoint the most responsive audience for your content.
Important note: To run a successful A/B test, you must test only one variable at a time! Multivariable testing is a thing. But it is much harder to conclude with that much data.
To conduct an A/B test of social media ad content, follow these steps:
- Select a single variable to change and test.
- Create two variations of your ad or social post.
- Segment your followers, showing each a different variation.
- Use UTM tags to track the performance of each variation. UTM tags are short pieces of text that differentiate between links that point to the same URL. For example, adding blue_banner vs. green_banner to the end of each ad link.
- Analyze and compare data from each creative. Compare conversion rates, click-through rates, impressions, etc.
- Choose your winning creative. Run with it.
Develop a Content Calendar to Guide Your Social Media Strategy
Consistency is vital for social media growth, but consistency becomes an uphill battle without a structured content calendar.
Content calendars provide detailed outlines and social media schedules for your planned content. Don’t worry; you don’t need to build this from scratch. Multiple marketing calendar tools are available to get your content calendar up and running quickly (my favorite is Notion).
Your content calendar also needs to plan for community management - how you engage with your loyal fans.
To create an effective content calendar, include:
- Content types and themes: Decide on the types of content (e.g., images, videos) and overarching themes for your posts.
- Posting schedule: Set consistent days and times for publishing content, considering your audience's active hours.
- Platforms: Define which platforms you plan to post content to ensure an even spread across each channel.
- Links to assets: Include links to resources or other assets tying into your content.
- Post status: Keep your entire team organized by defining whether posts are in production, require review, or are published.
- Tracking info: If necessary, include tracking information, like UTM tags.
Step Four: Extend Your Impact With Paid Advertising
Relying on organic social media growth is often unpredictable and leaves your brand at the mercy of platform algorithms. Of course, organic social media isn’t dead. Companies like HolySmile say organic posts on TikTok helped them grow 10x in size.
There are growing concerns about declining organic reach on Facebook and Instagram. As marketing leaders, we must take a blended approach to social media, with both an organic strategy and paid posts for sustainable growth.
Types of Paid Advertising Campaigns You Can Run on Social Media
Static image ads: A straightforward and visually impactful way to convey your message, foster brand recognition, drive engagement, and simplify the storytelling process.
Sponsored content: Sponsored content featuring influencers elevates your content marketing strategy, leveraging the credibility and reach of influencers to boost visibility among your target audience.
Lead generation ads: Drive valuable leads by strategically placing ads designed to capture information from potential customers. Sharing free resources and e-books works best for this approach.
Carousel ads: Leverage the interactive power of carousel ads to showcase multiple products or features within a single ad unit.
Video ads: Harness the engaging potential of video to tell your brand story, demonstrate products, or share customer testimonials.
Set Your Social Media Ads Budget
Budgeting for a paid social media campaign involves careful planning to maximize your return on investment (ROI). Here's a step-by-step guide to help you budget effectively:
- Align campaign goals: Connect your paid campaign goals to the overall goals of the social growth strategy. Consider goals like lead generation, brand awareness, or customer engagement.
- Understand cost structures: Social media advertising offers different pricing models, such as cost per click (CPC), cost per mille (CPM), or cost per acquisition (CPA). Choose the model that aligns with your goals and budget constraints.
- Research average costs: Investigate industry benchmarks and average costs per click or impression on your chosen platforms. According to 2023 surveys, social media marketers spend 17% of their marketing budget on social media.
- Set a realistic budget: Review previous ad campaigns and data to determine a realistic budget for your company's size and goals.
- Allocate budget across campaign components: Divide your budget among different campaign elements. This can include content creation, software, subscriptions, apps, and tools.
- Factor in ad maintenance: Remember to account for ongoing management and optimization costs. Social media advertising requires continuous monitoring and adjustments for optimal performance.
While this might seem overwhelming, budgeting for social media campaigns doesn’t have to be complicated. Later, the social media scheduling tool, has a helpful budgeting template you can download for free!
Step Five: Track Success By Measuring Social Media ROI
Whether it's the desire to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, or boost engagement, the success of your social media campaign hinges on effective measurement. Social media analytics can help you track things in one place.
KPIs I Prefer to Track
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are like the navigational tools on a ship, helping you fine-tune your strategy, make data-driven decisions, and steer your social media ship toward success.
Here’s a quick overview of the metrics your marketing teams should track to understand social media ROI:
- Engagement rate: Measures likes, comments, and shares to assess how well your audience connects with your content.
- Click-through rate (CTR): Tracks the percentage of users who click on your content to visit your website, offering insights into the effectiveness of your messaging.
- Conversion rate: Evaluates the percentage of users who take a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a form, showcasing the tangible impact of your social efforts.
- Follower growth: Keeps an eye on your audience growth to gauge your brand’s organic reach and appeal to your audience
- Reach and impressions: Shows how many people see your content (impressions) and how many unique users it reaches (reach), providing a comprehensive view of your content's visibility.
Tools for Monitoring
Google Analytics - Insights, Metrics, and Analytics
Google Analytics, a vital tool for B2B marketers, goes beyond basic metrics, offering comprehensive insights into social media marketing ROI. It tracks website traffic, conversions, and signups and provides a detailed view of user behavior beyond reach and engagement.
The tool enables the assessment of social campaigns over time through conversion funnels, helping you monitor the customer journey. Notably, Google Analytics ensures data accuracy by providing access to campaign data without solely relying on cookies.
The best part? It’s free!
Hootsuite - Scheduling, Reporting, Management
Hootsuite provides an all-in-one social media management, analytics, and reporting solution. While Google Analytics is free and powerful, it can take time to sift through all that data.
Aside from scheduling and social listening, Hootsuite also includes robust reporting features. In a few clicks, you can generate customizable reports on crucial campaign goals (conversions, reach, and engagement).
How to Calculate Social Media ROI
The ability to demonstrate the impact of your social media efforts on the bottom line is not just a metric; it's vital to continued investment.
The formula for calculating social media ROI is straightforward but powerful:
ROI = [(return – investment)x100/investment]
This formula encapsulates the essence of ROI, where the return is the direct revenue generated through social media efforts, and investment includes both direct costs (ad spend, tools, etc.) and indirect costs (employee hours, agency fees, etc.).
Here’s a Fictional Example of a Social Media ROI Calculation
Let's consider a fictional social media campaign for a new AI budgeting tool, BudgetBoost. The campaign involves promoting the product through Instagram story ads and tracking landing page traffic through UTM tags in Google Analytics.
Here's how we would calculate the social media ROI for this campaign:
- Instagram ads cost: $5,000
- Content creation and design: $2,000
- Social media management tools: $1,000
- Total Investment: $8,000
- Increase in sales attributed to Instagram Stories: $20,000
- Total Return: $20,000
Now, plug these values into the ROI formula:
ROI = [(20,000 – 8,000)x100/8,000]
ROI = 1.5 x 100 or 150%
Therefore, the calculated social media ROI for the BudgetBoost campaign is 150%. For every dollar invested, we earned $1.50, making the campaign financially successful.
Do Not Fear Social Media – Own It!
Modern marketers need to master a social media growth strategy– whether they work for small or large businesses. Our journey through creating a winning social media plan touched on crucial elements: setting clear goals aligned with your business, choosing the right platforms, crafting impactful content, and incorporating paid strategies.
Remember, the success of your social media strategy lies not just in creating content for amazing marketing campaigns, but in measuring the impact. Utilize the tools and insights provided to refine your strategy continually, and don't be afraid to turn to other resources like social media marketing courses or books.
Feeling inspired, motivated, and ready for next steps? Be sure to keep intouch by subscribing to The CMO newsletter for ongoing insights and strategies.
What are some emerging social media platforms for SaaS?
Emerging SaaS platforms include Clubhouse for real-time discussions, Ceros for interactive content, and TikTok for creative storytelling. Are you ready to jump into TikTok? Read our guide to mastering short-form video as a B2B brand.
How do I integrate social media with other marketing channels?
For example, analyze your post comments to learn more about your audience: their desires, needs, and struggles. Use this to fuel future marketing campaigns! Pull user-generated content from social media shares and mentions to showcase real reviews, testimonials, and customer stories in other marketing materials.
What are some common pitfalls to avoid in social media marketing?
Don’t take yourself too seriously! As the famous social media master Gary Vaynerchuk once said: “Behind every B is a C.”
People want to buy from other people. Maintain authenticity, avoid excessive automation, and don’t be afraid to own your imperfections. When you overthink your content, it shows. Have fun, experiment, and showcase the people behind your brand.