There’s only a week and a half left in 2016, and we’ve noticed one particular phrase that keeps popping up in emails and meeting invites: planning for 2017.

By now, there's no doubt that social media is crucial for the B2B space. Because regardless of whether you're selling highly complex B2B software or a hair product, your customers are people. And people are spending more time on social than ever before.

Here are two important stats about the social media landscape as we head into 2017:

  • Social media accounts for a third of all time spent online.
  • Nearly 80% of time spent on social media is spent on mobile devices.

Whether you have a team of four people or eighty-four, we’re all looking for ways that we can get the most out of social media for 2017. And no matter what you plan for the new year, every touchpoint on social should be fully mobile, since the vast majority of people you're connecting with on social are talking to you from their smartphone.

On this week’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast  —  the marketing podcast from Salesforce  —  we’re shedding light on social media best practices to help inspire your new-year strategy. We interviewed Caitlin Angeloff, Head of Global Social Strategy and Operations at DocuSign, for examples and ideas from DocuSign's highly successful social media presence.

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You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Caitlin.

1. Spread the social responsibility.

At DocuSign, there are currently 84 people trained on and actively using Social Studio, Salesforce's tool for connecting to customers on social media. “We rely on subject matter experts across the entire company to help us be successful in social media,” explains Caitlin.

“Thanks to Salesforce’s wonderful products, we’ve been able to centralize social media for global expansion, both in terms of strategy and execution to ensure brand alignment,” she says.

2. Understand where each channel excels.

When it comes to social media best practices for the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Caitlin says, “it’s a highly situational strategy.”  

Facebook is better for us in an upper-funnel situation where we’re trying to build brand awareness or drive website traffic. LinkedIn is better for lower funnel business objectives where we’ve moved past the awareness, and we’re now into the consideration and full-on adoption,” she says.

For DocuSign, Twitter plays a unique role. “We rely on Twitter to help us discover social media conversations and triage customer service and support matters in real time. We find that there is no better channel for that than Twitter,” says Caitlin.

Also stay open to new channels. “Because B2B buyers are getting younger we’ve also had to adopt some emerging platforms like Instagram and Snapchat,” she shares.

3. Realize that social is an investment, not a free lunch.

Social media is an investment. “It takes time and resources. The biggest resource you need is people, so you can actually be social,” says Caitlin.

“If you don’t have people who are available in real time to engage, respond, or give the detailed answer that someone is looking for, they’ll leave the social media channel that they started a conversation in and go somewhere else,” she points out.

Nowadays, you can't simply leave social media strategy to the intern — or leave all of your success to organic means. You'll probably need to invest in headcount and advertising to truly connect 1-to-1 and grow your audiences.

4. Know that social has normalized for B2B, too.

Social media as a behavior has normalized. The technology and the platforms just enable the behavior. I wasn’t surprised that social did more in B2C spaces, but now it’s normalized, and it’s part of the marketing mix as a whole,” says Caitlin.

With that said, many brands make the same mistake when it comes to social media. “We’re sitting on a mountain of data, and I find that a number of B2B brands are not leveraging the data to their fullest potential,” says Caitlin.

Use the data at your disposal. “That includes connecting your CRM database, your email database, and your website visits and bringing it together so you can be smarter about going out on these social media channels and be hyper-relevant to very specific target audiences,” says Caitlin.

5. For smaller teams, practice CEII.

Lacking resources? Caitlin says there’s a slightly different set of best practices for very small companies. “For a party of one, the framework I often reference is CEII: Connect, Engage, Integrate, and Influence,” she advises.

Caitlin suggests, “Think about where your audience is and what kind of results you want to get. That’s where you [apply] your time and attention.”

And always measure. “The ROI is how you tell whether you’re hitting the mark or not,” she says.  

And that’s just scratching the surface of our conversation with Caitlin Angeloff (@caitlinangeloff). Get the complete scoop on social media best practices for B2B marketers in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.

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