I loved doing puzzles with my brothers when I was a kid. But every time we shook out the pieces to a new one, an argument would break out about how to begin — find pieces with edges, group the like colors or just dive in?

I found that a structured approach worked best (go with the edges).

These days I’m spending less time doing puzzles and more time overseeing B2B social media programs. Yet I’m often reminded of those puzzles when talking to marketers about their social programs. It seems that most are busy diving into social media… but their activities often don’t turn into the results they’re looking for.

Here are the five must-do practices to make sure your B2B social media program snaps into place:

1.  Understand Your Buyer’s Behavior

Start your social media approach by listening to what your buyers are saying and doing on social media. You’re probably monitoring your company’s social feed for brand-related mentions. But that’s not enough to generate real buyers insights. Instead, invest in a social listening platform to also discover the conversations your target audience is having around pain points, products and competitors. And find out what content sources they read and share, which people influence them and the top hashtags they use. These social insights will keep you smart about your ongoing social media activities.

2.  Curate Other People’s Content

Share third-party content that’s interesting and relevant to your buyers. Why share other people’s content? It’s a good way to show that it’s not all about your brand, and to build trust with your prospects. You’ll also be hard-pressed to create enough quality content to consistently feed your social media machine… especially if you’re in the early stages with social media. How to put in practice? Set up Twitter “lists” made up of the most relevant industry publications and top influencers. This is the right place to start your daily curating activities.

3.  Create and Share Compelling Brand Content

Now that you’re listening to social media and building trust with curated content, it’s time to grab your buyer’s attention with your own brand content. What will you write about? Consider the conversations your customers and prospects are having on social media, the stories trending with industry publications, and (yes) the latest content offered by your competitors. Pick a topic and give it your own spin to create compelling brand content. And don’t be shy about sharing your brand content actively and often on social media channels.

4.  Engage Prospects, Customers and Influencers

Next, it’s all about engagement. Of course you can’t engage with everyone that “follows” your brand handles or reads, shares and comments on your social content. So use buyer personas and client lists as a road map to decide whom to engage and when to get your sales and customer success team involved. But don’t forget “influencers” as they already have the ear of your target buyers. How should you engage prospects and influencers? Focus on building relationships and adding value (not selling). Simply put: follow, share, thank, make look good and help them out, too!

5.  Track and Measure Your Social Media Progress

You’ll want to track and measure your social media progress along the way. And the specific goals and KPIs you measure against need to reflect what stage your company is in with social media. This will inform whether it’s about how active you are on social media, the size of your social audience, the level of engagement or ROI metrics like website traffic and leads coming from social media. Regardless, there are lots of tools to help you with social media measurement. The key is to make it part of your weekly, monthly and quarterly activities.

Your Turn!

Which of these social media practices are you most focused on? Which are you doing well and where do you need to improve? Share your comments below.

[Editors note: This article was first published on CMSWire]