Right now, there are more than 2.3 billion people actively using social media around the world. It means a potential of thousands of conversations in which your name and/or products could be mentioned.
B2B firms cannot afford to overlook those conversations. They need to track them and leverage their insights in online strategies and marketing campaigns. This is what social listening is all about.
Social listening: A quick definition
Also known as social media monitoring, social listening is “the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand.” (Source: TechTarget)
The most common form of online conversation is the direct mention. On Twitter, for example, it looks like this:
— B2B News Network (@B2BNewsNetwork) March 15, 2016
Unfortunately, customers often forget to tag or mention companies in their updates. So, if you aren’t aware of that, you are likely to miss a big piece of the action.
Benefits of social listening
- Lead generation – According to social selling evangelist Jill Rowley, “[y]our buyers are taking to social spaces to talk about their interests, pain points, wants, and needs — all you have to do is tune in.” Tracking those conversations on specific platforms like Twitter or Facebook will help you understand what they are looking for and what they think of your products and services. Then, offer your help or respond to them to build or reinforce the relationships.
Tip: Twitter Search is perfect to uncover questions from prospects. The option is located at the bottom of the “Advanced search” page, under “Other.”
Here is an example of results with the “recommend ecommerce solution” keyword:
- Customer care and crisis management – Another major benefit of social listening is the ability to catch complaints, concerns and questions from your audience. A firm that acknowledges and addresses them in a timely fashion will build trust and loyalty. And if you do not have the right answer, ask different staff members to step in. You can even request help from experts in your field.
Dell is a good example to follow. The company uses the @DellCares handle on Twitter to field questions and reply directly to people. According to Grow’s Rob Petersen, more than nine in ten issues “are resolved without customers needing to work with an agent and 85 percent of social-media-assisted customers with negative initial opinions of Dell reported a positive opinion following the support experience. The program is also generating an average of $265,000 in additional weekly revenue.”
- Competition monitoring – There are several reasons why ‘spying on’ competition is important. Firstly, other firms are probably already doing it with you. Secondly, products are never perfect and customers might be open to switch brands. Finally, to keep your competitive edge, you need to be aware of the latest product developments and features in your field.
Tip: Create private Twitter Lists and/or Facebook Interest Lists to follow other companies. No one else but you and those who have access to your accounts will know.
Here is an example with Facebook:
- Customer & product feedback – B2B customers use social platforms to research and buy products. They also take to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to share their thoughts and experiences. Surfacing that kind of unsolicited feedback can save your company millions of dollars in research and development.
- Identifying influencers – Social media gives thought leaders and experts a forum to publicize their opinions about products, trends and brands. Subscribe to their blogs and Twitter lists, and read their LinkedIn Pulse Then, engage with them and share their content. There are valuable insights to gain and you may even strike valuable partnerships.
Some best practices for effective social listening
To get started on the right track, Jill Rowley advises to set up “alerts for mentions of your product or service, company, industry, and relevant keywords on various social media platforms. This way, the conversations that are most likely to produce leads will naturally surface above the social media din.”
“Then, once you have your notifications in place, keep your ears open, and your fast-typing fingers at the ready. If you spot a tweet that is a clear sales opportunity, pounce on it by engaging in a helpful way. Research shows that being the first to reach out gives the company an advantage in a competitive deal.”
- Use the right tools – Many solid monitoring platforms exist. For example:
- Google Alerts and Talkwalker will send you email updates on the latest results (web, news, blogs, videos, finance, etc.) based on your queries.
- net scours the Internet, including social networks and forums, for mentions of your name or specific keywords.
- With Hootsuite, you can keep an eye on multiple social networks at once, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. TweetDeck is also very useful for Twitter.
- Social Mention monitors about 100 social media sites to offer real-time search and analysis. Influence is measured according to four categories: Strength, Sentiment, Passion and Reach.
- Sysomos allows you to listen to social conversations in real-time and to surface influencers among other things.
- For more tools, you can refer to this Wiki list.
- Be thorough
- Go beyond Facebook and Twitter. Your customers read blogs and interact on other social platforms.
- Do not just monitor the name of your company and website. Include your domain name too.
- If your company has a unique or unusual name, typos will happen. Use services like Domain Name Typo Generator or Keyword Typo Generator to determine potential misspellings.
- Monitor multiple variations of keywords or hashtags. For example, for ‘ecommerce’, consider tracking the following: ‘shopping cart’, ‘ecommerce website’, ‘ecommerce solutions’, ‘ecommerce store’, ‘ecommerce website builder’, and ‘online shopping cart’.
- Keep an eye on negative mentions – Try combining keywords like ‘brand name + fail / bad / negative / unhappy.’
- Be organized – Train all your staff to recognize and report mentions. Also, invite your social media team to label content by categories. This will help them prioritize responses and understand the kind of customer feedback they see.
- Last but not least, have a crisis management policy in place.
Editors’ note: We want to hear from you, our community. Who is doing great work in B2B social listening? Get your nominations in herebefore April 5, and we’ll publish our 2016 Social Listening Influencer Index on April 13.
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