How to Tune into Your Audience with B2B Social Listening

by: Dustin Hawley | Monday December 16, 2019

**Originally published December 3rd, 2019. Updated December 16th, 2019**

An essential part of any B2C brands’ social media approach these days is social listening. However, the same can not be said for most B2B brands. The question is, why? Some marketers point to reasons like the low volume of social conversations around B2B companies. While there are millions of consumers out there who love to share their opinions about the food they eat, the beauty products they use, and the luxury items they purchased...the noise of crowd quiets down substantially when it comes to verticals like technology software, professional services, or even industrial machinery.

There is also the idea that data points like sentiment analysis and audience insights don’t really matter as much in the B2B world, and that most of the social listening platforms are consumer brand focused anyways. But there are several great benefits for B2B marketers that come as a result of social listening.

man holds his hand near ear and listens to alphabet letters flying in on gray background

5 ways B2B marketers can capitalize on Social Listening

B2B companies should not be excluded from practicing social listening. And B2B marketers can take advantage of social listening in these five ways:

  1. Social listening allows you to keep in tune with what interests your buyers. Social listening is one of the best ways to discover the specific topics, hashtags, and publications your prospective customers like and engage with on social media. These insights can help to inform your content marketing, media buying, and even your PR strategy.
  2. It allows you to discover who influences your target audience. Social listening can also help you identify which thought-leaders, executives, and influencers your buyers share and mention the most on social. Yes, influencer marketing is relevant to B2B brands. More so than many would think.
  3. It gives you the ability to respond to prospects and customers. Let's say you’ve positioned your brand as an innovative, customer-focused organization, but you fail to respond to questions and relevant comments on your social media accounts. It doesn't bode well for your image or your brand sentiment. But social listening allows you to measure that sentiment, and act accordingly with responding to customers and addressing issues brought to your attention on social media. 
  4. Social listening lets you stay on top of brand mentions. It doesn't matter if your company isn’t the main focus of thousands of social posts every day. That doesn’t mean you should turn a blind ear to consumers who mention your business, products or top executives on social media. Think less sentiment analysis and more about discovering what buyers are actually saying about your brand online.
  5. It gives you the tools to better execute on marketing initiatives. If your brand is selling to a niche group, think about the specific companies and decision-makers you want to target. Monitor their conversations on social media and press releases to gain valuable insights into best practices on how to reach and engage them.

What are the big-picture benefits of B2B social listening?

Some B2B brands see social media as a financial black hole when it comes to ROI. And while some of this stigma may be mildly warranted, we should also take into consideration how B2B social listening can be a game-changer when it comes to what you get out of your brand's social presence.

Thanks to brands like Talkwalker, we can visualize great viral marketing as a result of social listening. Viral Nation's own Travis Hawley covered the subject with the CEO of Talkwalker, Todd Grossman, on a recent LinkedIn Live. Check it out below!

Every single interaction and engagement with your customers via social media is more than just a touchpoint on the journey through the sales funnel. It's also a valuable data point that shouldn't be overlooked. There’s arguably no better way to conduct competitive analysis and track industry trends than through social listening.

Changing your mindset and approach around B2B social media can be a game-changer in itself. Rather than looking at social media as this time-consuming task with minimal benefit, treat it as a tool to gather business intelligence.

How to get started with social listening

With all this in mind, here are a few ways to make sure you’re doing social listening the right way and getting the most out of the practice:

  • Invest in social listening tools! You can use free tools like Talkwalker and Google alerts, or even an award-winning influencer marketing agency who can provide this valuable data. Choose the social listening technologies that make the most sense for your B2B company, and ones that provide the most pertinent information to the needs of your brand.
  • Understand what exactly it is you want to listen to on social media. You can start by listening for brand mentions, executive mentions, and product tagging. Consider your target accounts, primary competitors, and hashtags that are most relevant to your business.
  • Be prepared to respond and engage on social media. No matter if it's a customer support question, a prime sales opportunity, or (on the negative side) an emerging social media crisis, be ready to respond and do so with purpose. Identify in advance the optimal people who will respond for any given issue so you can engage and react as necessary. The fact is, social media works in real-time so your brand can’t afford to figure things out on the fly.

Final Thoughts

It may be true that branded conversation is typically lower for B2B companies. But that also in itself presents an opportunity. Truth be told, B2B brands can actually put social listening to best use by generating prospects, identifying thought leaders, getting consumer feedback, keeping a watchful eye on the competition, and so much more. Brands don’t have to analyze millions of mentions to get the news and information they seek. Instead, cultivating a deep understanding of relevant online conversations gives them the information needed to take their brand to the next level.

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