LISTEN UP: Here’s How to Make Social Media Listening a Winning Ingredient in Your B2B Marketing Strategy

You know that feeling when you overhear someone saying good things about you? It’s a little boost to the ego, right? What if you could tap into what people say about your brand – the good, the bad, and everything in between? 

With social media listening, you can do exactly that. A survey from Social Media Examiner reveals that most respondents view social media listening as valuable; in fact, Hubspot reports that 62% of marketers claim social listening is the best marketing tactic.

What is Social Media Listening?

Social media listening monitors digital conversations to understand what customers say about your brand and industry online. It’s like eavesdropping on a global cocktail party where your brand is the topic of conversation. You want to listen to what people love, hate, or wish for regarding your products or services and understand the sentiment and the context surrounding those conversations.

The Difference Between Social Media Listening and Social Media Monitoring

Social monitoring is like taking regular snapshots of your brand’s online presence. It involves tracking and gathering every mention, comment, share, or message related to your brand across social platforms.

  • Purpose: The main goal is to capture and respond to individual interactions, especially customer service inquiries or direct mentions.
  • Approach: It’s more of a reactive process. For example, someone tweets a complaint about your product, and you respond to address the issue. It’s about handling one-off instances and ensuring immediate concerns are addressed.
  • Outcome: You get a granular, moment-to-moment view of how people interact with your brand.

Social media listening goes beyond just tracking individual mentions. It’s about understanding the broader context, sentiment, and trends around those mentions over time.

  • Purpose: The aim is to grasp the bigger picture of your brand’s online reputation, audience feelings, and emerging patterns in conversations.
  • Approach: It’s more proactive and strategic. Instead of just reacting to individual posts, you’re analysing the data to inform broader strategies. For instance, if many users share similar complaints about a feature over a month, you might decide to revise that feature.
  • Outcome: You gain deeper insights into customer sentiments, industry trends, and overarching perceptions about your brand.

The Benefits of Social Media Listening in B2B Marketing

Social media listening gives you a strategic edge and allows you to make informed, timely, and impactful moves based on digital conversations and insights.

Leverage Trends

Diving into the ebb and flow of online discussions, social listening allows B2B marketers to spot emerging trends before they become mainstream. Think of how many brands jumped onto the Barbenheimer phenomenon and launched viral posts. 

These brands spotted the trend early on, understood the sentiment and context of the movement, and identified how their own brand could capitalise on it. 

Identify Partnership Opportunities

Spotting a non-competitor brand that’s consistently mentioned alongside yours? Maybe it’s a software tool that complements your service. This could hint at a potential partnership or integration opportunity that could open doors to their customer base and vice versa.

Strengthen Crisis Management

A minor issue can snowball into a public relations (PR) nightmare overnight. With social media listening, you can detect negative sentiments early, allowing you to address issues head-on and manage potential fallouts proactively.

Engage with Your Audience

It’s one thing to respond to direct messages or emails. It’s another to jump into a conversation where your brand or product is being discussed, offering value or simply thanking someone for a positive mention. It shows you’re attentive and care about your community, and that fosters goodwill and trust.

Understand Audience Challenges 

By keeping an ear to the ground, you can identify common challenges your potential clients face. For instance, if a series of LinkedIn posts talk about the lack of efficient tracking tools in the shipping industry, you have an opportunity to pose your product as a solution or create a product that becomes a solution. 

How Social Media Listening Can Improve Your B2B Marketing Efforts

Imagine you’re brainstorming your next big campaign in a strategy meeting. You have a wealth of data, but what if you also had direct insights into your prospects’ current conversations? Enter social media listening.

  • Content That Resonates. Ever hit that frustrating wall where you’re unsure what content to create next? Social listening comes to the rescue. By understanding what topics are buzzing within your industry or what pain points are consistently mentioned, you can craft content that directly addresses these areas, ensuring relevance and engagement.
  • Optimise Sales Strategy. Sales is no longer about cold pitches. It’s about understanding prospects deeply. If potential leads discuss the challenges they face, social listening can inform your sales team about them. The result? Tailored pitches that speak directly to a lead’s needs and increase the chances of conversion.
  • Product Development Insights. Through the lens of social listening, you can discern what features your customers crave, what issues they face with current offerings, or what gaps exist in the market. 
  • Event and Webinar Planning. Planning a webinar or a conference? Social listening can identify hot topics, influential voices, and pertinent discussions in your industry. Aligning events with these insights can drive high attendance and engagement rates. 

Six Social Media Listening Tips

One: Gather Your Data Carefully

While it may be tempting to cast a wide net and gather as much data as possible, it’s crucial to focus on the quality of the information. Look for in-depth conversations, and recurring themes rather than getting overwhelmed with every single mention. 

This will help you derive actionable insights instead of drowning in data.

Two: Engage, Don’t Just Observe

Active participation is key. Instead of being a passive onlooker, engage in conversations when appropriate. Pose questions, seek clarifications, or even play devil’s advocate. Engaging shows your brand’s genuine interest in understanding and serving the audience.

Three: Keep An Eye on the Competition

It’s not just about you. Monitor what’s being said about your competitors too. Understand their audience’s pain points, praises, and feedback. This not only helps in comparative analysis but also identifies potential gaps in the market that you can fill.

Four: Get Organised

It’s not just about capturing conversations; it’s about categorising them. Segment feedback, questions, complaints, and praises into distinct categories. By doing this, different departments (product development, customer service, public relations) can act swiftly on the insights most relevant to them.

Five: Consider Visual Listening

Social media isn’t just text-based. Over 70% of B2B marketers use at least one major social media platform to share their content, and visual content dominates. That’s why it is worth integrating tools that allow for visual listening – identifying your product placements, logo mentions, or any visual context that doesn’t necessarily tag your brand but is still about you.

Six: Collaborate and Share Insights

71% of businesses believe that monitoring social media provides valuable consumer insights that they can share with other departments. That’s why social listening should never be siloed within the marketing department. 

We recommend regular internal roundtables or reports to ensure that your whole organisation benefits from the rich insights gathered. This is how you foster a holistic strategy that’s data-driven and relevant at every level.

Five Social Media Listening Tools 

When selecting a social media listening tool, assess your budget, the platforms your brand prioritises, and what exactly you want to achieve with social media listening. The good news is that most of these tools offer demos or trial periods. 

  • Brandwatch: A powerful tool offering data visualisation, sentiment analysis, and comprehensive platform coverage.
  • Hootsuite: While it’s primarily known as a social media management tool, Hootsuite also provides strong social listening capabilities to track brand mentions, sentiments, and more.
  • Sprout Social: Integrates social listening with other aspects of social media management, offering insights into brand health, competitive analysis, and audience demographics.
  • Talkwalker: Monitors brand mentions across 150 million data sources, offering visual listening, sentiment analysis, and influencer identification.
  • Mention: Monitors mentions across various sources, from blogs to social media. Offers competitive analysis and influencer search.

Social media listening is important but only part of an effective B2B social media strategy

At Shift ONE Digital, we can make social media marketing work for your business and help you create impactful content, attract your ideal audience, and develop a concrete social media listening plan to help you grow. Interested? Your free consultation awaits.

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