B2B Social Listening: How to Tune In

Good listening skills are paramount to any relationship and the same is true when it comes to B2B social listening. When done correctly, social listening skills can not only improve your social media interactions but also provide current, up-to-the-minute insights into the needs and pains of your audience, which will add depth and dimension to your marketing strategy.

Social listening B2B

What is B2B social listening? 

B2B social listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of listening and evaluating online discussions, to find out what customers, industry leaders, and competitors are saying about a company, brand, product, or concept. A study conducted by JD Power and Associates reported that 42% of companies listed social listening in their top three priorities for 2013. Compared to more traditional research tools like focus groups, interviews, and surveys, social listening often yields fresher, more current data, usually with less effort involved.

Social listening can be used to track relevant conversations that businesses can use to:

  • Connect with new prospects
  • Identify conversations and topics that will connect to your customers’ needs and pains
  • Identify and connect with potential partners / resellers
  • Monitor competitive activity
  • Support and engage with current clients and / or people who have participated in their programs

It’s a good idea to prioritize and rank these objectives according to what you are trying to achieve with your social listening strategy. This will help to determine which keywords to track.

What tools should I use for B2B social listening?

There are many tools available for identifying and aggregating data from public platforms. Examples include:

These tools deliver data, though—they do not interpret it.

While some tools are capable of organizing data by category and sentiment, technology cannot accurately translate the subtlety of sarcasm, clichés, and colloquial expressions. Human analysis is still necessary to interpret significance from the aggregated content. Technology is useful to expose the conversation, however it won’t do the interactive footwork for you.

How should marketers use B2B social listening to track relevant conversations?

 1.    Choose a platform (Brainrider recommends Argyle social, but there are many great tools available).

2.    Choose the keywords you want to track. These should be based on searches that are relevant to both your target audience’s problem, and your value proposition. You should also include competitor’s brand names, product names, solution names, or specific technical concepts unique to the industry.

3.    Set up keyword tracking.

4.    Set up campaign classification for your business’ content. Brainrider does this by defining the needs and pains of your customer, classifying those pains into 4-5 content categories, and then filtering those categories back through your value proposition, to ensure your keywords are connected to your business. You can tag assets within a campaign, and then track which campaigns are the most engaging.

5.    Set aside 30 mins – 1 hr/week to review and read conversations. Set aside 10-15 minutes every day to engage with 2-3 conversations each week. For example, you can engage is by offering resources to demonstrate subject matter expertise.

6.    Review your keyword in chosen platform, looking for relevant conversations.

7. Identify relevant conversations. Here’s some criteria Brainrider uses:

  • The message comes from one of your target audiences, prospects, potential partners / resellers, competitors, or current clients
  • The message is relevant to your business’s value proposition (someone is looking for a tool similar to what you provide, or trying to solve a problem that your business could solve).
  • The message shares something of value.

8.    If you spot valuable, relevant content being shared by a third party, share it with your followers.

9.    Continually cull your keyword list down to focus on those with a higher yield.

 What should you do next?

Download this content marketing strategy template to align your content development with your business objectives.

Thought leadership and content marketing: 4 practical tips

Thought leadership (some times called content marketing) is one of the most powerful but challenging tools in the B2B Marketing toolbox: here are 4 practical tips on how to get started.

As the very smart Chris Koch points out in this terrific blog post on idea marketing, many companies have given up trying to create valuable content and started dressing up product brochures as thought leadership.  But with the right approach B2B companies large and small can leverage their Subject Matter Expertise (SME) and create valuable content that will connect with their customers and drive business results.

4 Practical Tips from ITSMA’s Chris Koch

At the end of his post, Chris offers 4 practical tips on how to do a better job of thought leadership marketing. We thought they were worth highlighting for you:
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Targeting small & medium business (SMB)

Creating content and programs that target the SMB market requires an understanding of how small- and medium-sized business owners think and how to connect with them.

Here are 6 key SMB insights to consider:

  • They do not think of their companies as “small” businesses; they are simply businesses.
  • They want access to the same thinking, resources, and tools as big businesses.
  • They are time-pressed, so they need access provided in a way that is findable, relevant, and valuable to them.
  • The SMB market is actually a collection of heterogeneous sub-markets that think, act, and transact in very different ways.
  • They operate different types of companies, in different industries, with different objectives and customers.
  • Each sub-market tends to be very well networked, very peer-driven, and looks to similar professionals and companies with similar pains for answers and solutions. (more…)

B2B Blogging Best Practices

If you have not seen Jeff Cohen’s terrific presentation on 16 Best Practices of B2B Corporate Blogging is is worth checking out (see below).

 

Our best practice recommendation:
Start with a content framework

All of Jeff’s recommendations are valuable but the first 7 can be addressed in a practical way by creating a simple content strategy/framework that answers the following questions:

  • What business are you really in?
  • Who is your target?
  • What are their needs and pains?
  • What is your value proposition?
  • What does your customer really want to know, broken out into main categories?
  • What are the key purchase decision stages?
  • What Keywords should you target?

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Marketing Content Development: Top 5 Tactics

B2B marketing content development can be expensive in terms of dollars and time spent — and some tactics are better than others.  According to CMO council research on content ROI “only 22 percent of respondents say they are very satisfied with the caliber of technology content” and this issue is not just limited to technology brands.  But smart companies have learned how to tackle the challenge efficiently and effectively.  How do they do it?

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