How to build a better business with B2B social listening

If you’re a B2B brand, chances are you already have plenty on
your plate.

However, that’s no excuse to sleep on social listening.

Think about it. Customers and competitors are sounding off like
never before on social media, especially in the ever-so-opinionated
B2B space.

And so the rules of succeeding
with B2B social media
 are changing. Digging into the data
behind your mentions can lead to a treasure trove of insight to
help you make actionable business decisions.

That is, if you’re listening.

Want to uncover what exactly what products and features
customers want? Looking to get a leg up on your competition? With
the help of B2B social listening, those answers are just a few
clicks away.

In this guide, we’ll highlight how B2B brands can use social
listening to build a better business and how to get started
ASAP.

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

Some B2B brands might see social media as a black hole when it
comes to ROI.

Harsh, but we get it.

Let’s consider how B2B social listening can be a game-changer
in terms of what you get out of your social presence, though.

Every interaction and engagement with your customers via social
media is a valuable data point. Meanwhile, there’s arguably no
better place to conduct competitive analysis and track industry
trends.

Rather than treat social media like a time-sink, treat it as a
place to gather business intelligence. Below are some key ways that
B2B social listening does exactly that.

Make better sense of your shout-outs

People don’t take the time to tag you for no reason.

Maybe they have something to say about your customer service.
Perhaps they have feedback on a particular product or feature.

Either way, B2B social listening helps put those mentions into
context.

For example, this shout-out from a satisfied Sprout customer
reinforces the fact that our customer support team is crushing
it.

If you want to know whether or not a new feature or roll-out
will be well received, social media is a great place to gather
unfiltered feedback. For example, Skype recently reintroduced its
“Away” status feature which resulted in a flurry of different
responses from followers.

The takeaway? Behind every @mention notification is some sort of
sentiment or feedback your business can learn from and act on.

Keep up with call-out culture

Like it or not, we live in a call-out
culture
online.

Customers and critics are anything but shy on social media. For
B2B brands, call-outs for poor customer service, bad product
experiences and pricing concerns can be particularly painful for
your reputation.

Ignoring these sorts of mistakes is obviously a bad look.
Likewise, you’ll oftentimes see competing products recommended in
social call-out threads where your name is being dragged. Heck,
sometimes competing brands might even swoop in to sound off,
too.

Brands are expected to own their mistakes even when they
aren’t even necessarily making, well, mistakes. Take for example
Slack’s recent logo change which received a somewhat mixed
reaction from customers.

Although many customers absolutely adored the new design, there
was some pushback as well. Slack managed to respond diplomatically
to each call-out and, at times, even took the comments in jest.

And on the flip side, Slack also managed to show love to
customers who were supportive of the change.

Reality check: you need to be prepared to deal with the
good and the bad when it comes to your mentions. Call-out culture
isn’t going anywhere, which is why B2B social listening is so
important for maintaining a positive relationship with your
customers and industry at large.

Give customers exactly what they want

Want to know what products, features and services that your
customers want?

Look no further than the social space.

Whether it’s current customers or prospects, people are
constantly asking for recommendations via social to figure out
which brands deserve their business.

And if someone is thinking about bouncing to a competitor, you
need to take the time to understand why.

Social listening can help highlight the unique selling
propositions of your own business in addition to your competitors.
Having a pulse on both is crucial to your marketing and positioning
moving forward.

Conduct more comprehensive competitive analysis

Speaking of competitors, B2B social listening makes it so much
easier to keep an eye on your competition.

For example, monitoring industry-specific hashtags can help you
understand what terms and types of content are resonating with your
audience. Here’s a snapshot of a hashtag and keyword report from
Sprout Social, highlighting branded and industry tags alike.

Consider also that not all conversations surrounding your
business are happening on the likes of Twitter or LinkedIn.

Through comprehensive online
social listening
, you can assess what brands are being talked
about on networks like YouTube which are hotbeds for B2B discussion
that you may have been overlooking. This again highlights why
brands need to not only track keywords for their business, but also
take a holistic approach to B2B social listening that spans a
variety of sources.

Target your prospecting efforts

As noted, social listening isn’t solely about your current
customers: it’s about finding new ones as well.

You already know that your customers are on social media, right?
Contacting them directly about your product is totally fair game,
especially in the era of social selling and account-based
marketing.

How to come up with a B2B social listening strategy

Just like anything else in the marketing world, you can’t just
“wing” social listening.

There’s so much information to sift through and plenty of
networks to cover.

If it all seems daunting, don’t panic quite yet.

Below is a breakdown of how you can come up with a B2B social
listening strategy that makes sense for your brand.

Pick your priority networks

There’s no denying that there’s a lot of noise in the social
space.

That’s why you need to focus on your social listening on
places the most important conversations about your business are
happening.

In terms of B2B social listening, Twitter and LinkedIn are
typically considered the “big two.”

Why, though? For starters, Twitter represents a
massive customer
service
channel. If there’s anywhere that customers are going
to shout you out or raise a concern, chances are it’s Twitter.
Also, many B2B brands and influencers use Twitter threads as an
opportunity to sound off on industry happenings.

That said, LinkedIn is crucial to your B2B listening strategy.
Given that a staggering 80%
of B2B leads come from LinkedIn
, you quite literally can’t
afford to ignore the undisputed professional social network.

Beyond acquiring leads, LinkedIn offers a place for B2B brands
to flex their influence. For example, let’s say you’re part of
a “best of” listicle or you have customers highlighting your
awesome new product on LinkedIn. These are the sort of valuable
interactions that cement you as an industry player yourself.

Don’t neglect “secondary” social conversations

Some of the most important conversations surrounding your
business are happening where you might not even be looking

Once you’ve locked down your mentions and tags on your
priority network, take the time to dig through additional social
sites to see what folks are saying about your brand.

For example, Quora is a popular place for consumers to pit
brands against each other. It’s totally fair game to respond to
such queries yourself, although many B2B brands don’t capitalize
on these conversations.

The same rings true on Reddit. Although responding directly as a
marketer might be discouraged, Reddit is a fantastic place to
gather real-world industry insights beyond your marketing
bubble.

Also, think about the conversations happening on B2B-specific
sites such as Growth
Hackers
. If you’re invested in content marketing or fellow
B2B brands see you as an industry leader, you need to be able to
leverage those mentions.

Listen beyond your brand name

If you’re just listening to your brand name, you’re
inevitably hindering your B2B social listening efforts.

For example, you need to monitor product or industry-specific
keywords related to your business. These sorts of queries are
what’s going to lead you to prospects and conversations where you
can make your brand known.

The same logic rings true for hashtags. Signaling your own
content as part of a larger conversation, hashtags can also clue
you in on what content your competition is creating.

Take advantage of a social listening tool

Obviously, there are a ton of networks and conversations for
your business to sift through.

Rather than do it “by hand,” let a B2B social listening tool
do the legwork for you.

Specifically, Sprout’s
social listening
 features allow you to monitor the critical
conversations about your business and deliver in-depth analytics
that put them into context. With the help of our query builder, you
can search specific brand mentions, keywords and hashtags that pop
up throughout the social space. Oh, and this also includes those
“secondary” networks like Reddit.

With analytics including search volume, engagement and
sentiment analysis, you can take a data-driven approach to tune up
your marketing campaigns. This ensures that your social presence
grows while also improving your sentiment among customers and
prospects. Sounds like a win-win, right?

And with that, we wrap up our guide!

Are you on board with B2B social listening?

Listen: the B2B space is crowded. Anything you can do to cut
through the noise to determine what your customers want is a huge
plus.

With the help of B2B social listening, you can do exactly
that.

From emerging trends to improving relationships with your
customers and beyond, social listening can clue you in on what your
next marketing moves should be. Any B2B brand should make social
listening a priority, especially when there are social listening
tools out there such as Sprout that can do most of the work for
you.

We want to hear from you, though. What are you doing to listen
to your customers and competitors? Where do you think the most
important conversations in your industry are happening? Let us know
in the comments below!

This post How to
build a better business with B2B social listening
originally
appeared on Sprout
Social
.

Source: FS – Social Media Blogs 1
How to build a better business with B2B social listening