There’s no question. Content marketing and social media can work for your business, but they take time and money. The key to an efficient content marketing plan is to set proper expectations for yourself and your business. Like Drew Dorgan said in a recent article on LinkedIn, “done haphazardly, social media is on the latest budget- and time-sucking tools. It can break your budget and produce no results.”

Did you know B2B marketers spend roughly $5.2 billion annually on content marketing? $1 billion of the spend is lost due to “inefficient” spending. According to research from Gleanster Research and Kapost, the top three areas where marketers are least efficient are meeting task deadlines, redundant content creation and coordinating the people contributing content. Any of this sound familiar?

So, how can you develop a more efficient content marketing or social media process? Here are a few suggestions and important points to remember:

Create a plan and stick to it.

Develop a strategic plan and stick to it. Sounds easy in theory, right? Often we see companies create a stellar content marketing and social media plan. They even start off well too, consistently posting content each week. But then somewhere along the way their channels go “cold.” Maybe they get hung up on all approvals required in B2B. Sometimes the marketing team receives more and more projects, and social media seems to fall last on their list.

Not only to do you need an editorial calendar, but you need to ensure buy-in from the start. Set expectations, desired metrics, milestones and goals for your content team. Add social media goals to your annual reviews. Block out time on your calendar each week specifically for content marketing tasks. Lean on your team for help. Plan for the unexpected.

Tell better stories.

Be authentic, be helpful and be consistent. Tell a cohesive story your audience wants to read. It should be something meaningful and empowering to you. These stories make us care and teach us lessons. Show your expertise and inspire a helpful dialogue. Press releases or product-pushing advertisements dressed up as editorials? These are not the great stories your audience wants to hear. Instead, think like a publisher like David Meerman Scott suggests. Strive to create content like newsletters, e-books, case studies, industry-level facts sheets, white papers, or anything else that serves to educate and engage the reader.

Work together and collaborate.

Content marketing and social media involve more than just the marketing department. The moment you start sharing stories across the organization – different plants, product centers, research and development, marketing, sales, HR, PR, etc. – things change. Stories about inspiring work in the community, stories about transforming company culture. These are all stories you might never have heard otherwise.

Instead of throwing stuff out there and hoping something sticks, work with your sales team, your R&D team and your ad agency. They can help determine what content is going to speak to the customers’ needs or what content is most likely attract young college students. Your agency can help write and schedule content, meet task deadlines, coordinate content contributions, consider your call-to-action and maintain a consistent voice in your messages.

There are a lot of things to know and remember when it comes to social media and content marketing: social media “manners” and lingo, different metrics to understand and software and tools to choose from. An agency spends all day, every day studying these topics. Use their knowledge and expertise to your advantage.

If content marketing and social media are important your business and its goals, it needs support from the beginning. Take the time to create a strategic and efficient content marketing or social media plan, and you will produce results.

Do you have any other tips for creating a more efficient content marketing plan?