Social media planning can be a challenge when you don’t know where to get started.

Planning marketing initiatives is hard enough when you have documented goals and are simply battling to get the resources to make it happen. But what if you’re not even sure what your goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be?

That’s the problem many B2B marketers face with social media planning.

The Social Media Maturity Model: Where Are You?

Many B2B companies are in the same boat, with lots of unknowns about their social media program. To help them understand where they are today and where they’d like to go tomorrow, we created a social media maturity model:

Social Media Maturity Model

The first step is to determine which stage you’re in (hint: it’s likely the first stage). Each step has an appropriate set of goals and KPIs.

Nothing undermines social media planning more than getting this wrong.

How long should you expect to focus on each stage? It depends on the resources you commit and how quickly you can ramp up your social media activity. I found that a good benchmark is 1-2 quarters for each stage.

As you work in each stage, your goals and KPIs will increasingly reflect the next stage you’re moving into.

Here’s a look at each stage, along with the right way to approach your social media planning in each one.

Stage 1: Activity-Based Goals

Remember the last time you joined the gym? Your first goal was just to show up every week, right? Then you focused on losing weight, increasing stamina, etc. The initial stage of social media is like that.

Before you and your team start posting and tweeting, develop a social media policy that includes:

  • Who is posting
  • What are you posting
  • When are you posting
  • Where are you posting

When you’re ready to start posting, the right goal at this stage is just being consistent with your activity.


  • Number of blog posts per month
  • Number of tweets per day
  • Number of LinkedIn status updates per week
  • [Daily or weekly metrics for other social networks you may be using]

Social media tools are available to help at this stage, including applications to schedule posts and analyze results. Our post lists top social media management tools for B2B marketing.

Put in place the workflows and resources necessary to hit activity-based KPIs consistently. That’ll create the right foundation to successfully move on to the next stage.

Stage 2: Audience-Building Goals

You’re now pretty consistent with blogging and social sharing but have no meaningful social media audience yet. You’ll know you’re at this stage because you start hearing from the team: “Hey, we’re blogging but there’s no traffic and no one’s sharing our posts!”

It’s time to focus on building high-quality social channels filled with prospects, customers, influencers and —yes — employees! Read my related post on the five ways to ignite employee advocacy at your company.

During this stage, your social media goals need to be more about audience building.


  • Number of followers on LinkedIn
  • Number of followers on Twitter
  • Number of followers on Faceook
  • Number of blog email subscribers
  • Reach and impressions generated by your social posts

Keep in mind that it’s not about audience-size “optics,” but the quality of the social channels you’re building.

Stage 3: Engagement Goals

Since you’re now managing high-quality social channels, this stage is about the relevance of the content you share.

This means sharing industry publications, blogs and content from top influencers that are especially relevant to target buyers. It also means posting lots of thought leadership content fueled by your blog and other content marketing efforts.

You’ll know you’re in this stage because people are regularly sharing your social posts, retweeting and mentioning your company’s social handles, and liking and commenting on LinkedIn company page updates.


  • Profile visits
  • Retweets or re-shares
  • Mentions and comments
  • Likes
  • Engagement rate across each social network

Read my related post for seven ways to engage your B2B social media audience.

Bonus: you’re now ready to leverage social media to engage industry influencers and top tier prospects. Here’s how to go about B2B influencer marketing and social media account-based marketing.

Stage 4: ROI Goals

At this point, you can finally start measuring the ROI of your social media efforts. Why? Because your consistent (and increasing) social media activity and engaged audience are driving meaningful website traffic, landing page clicks, and … yes, leads!

It’s also now easier to get more organizational support to help turn the social media wheel faster. Why? Because everyone sees the progress you’re making!


  • Website visits
  • Landing page clicks
  • Conversion rate
  • Leads
  • Opportunities
  • Closed/Won deals

In this late stage, you’ve progressed from awareness to engagement to ROI. In this related post, I share details on specific tactics you can take to help make this transition.

Other Things to Consider

What if you need to make a faster impact with social media? Then consider advertising on the social networks. Just keep in mind, paying for social media followers and clicks won’t build a valuable and lasting social channel unless you also take the time to invest in each of the four stages of social media.

And don’t forget… you must align your specific goals and KPIs to the social media stage you’re in — otherwise you may overturn your progress by trying to get to ROI before you’re ready!

Share with us in the comments: what stage in the maturity model are you today and where would you like to get tomorrow?

Note: This post was originally published on November 28, 2016 and updated on January 18, 2019.