Social listening is an essential part of any B2C brands’ social media approach. But the same can’t be said for many B2B brands.

Why is that?

In my experience working with B2B marketers, I’ve found it mainly comes down to three reasons:

The low volume of social conversations about B2B companies: While millions of consumers love to share opinions about food, beauty, and luxury products … the chatter quiets down when it comes to professional services, technology software or industrial machinery.

Sentiment analysis and audience insights don’t matter as much: When you’re a B2C marketer, you see almost everyone as a potential customer. So you care how consumers “feel” about your brand, and are always looking for more ways to segment your broad audience into bite-size segments. With B2B marketers it’s more about customer testimonials and buyer personas.

Social listening vendors focus mainly on helping consumer brands: Enterprise social listening vendors like Brandwatch, Sysomos and Crimson Hexagon, are designed for listening to and analyzing millions of social conversations. No surprise then that they spend most of their sales efforts on top consumer brands and agencies.

5 Ways B2B Marketers Benefit from Social Listening

Does this excuse B2B companies from social listening? Not at all.

B2B marketers can take advantage of social listening in these five ways:

  • Stay on top of brand and executive mentions. Just because your company isn’t the focus of thousands of social posts every day doesn’t mean you don’t want to “hear” when consumers mention your business, products or top executives. This is less about sentiment analysis and more about discovering what buyers actually say about your brand.
  • Respond to prospects and customers. You’ve positioned your firm as innovative and customer-centric, then fail to respond to questions and relevant comments on social media — that doesn’t play well. And saying you didn’t see them is no longer a good excuse.
  • Keep in tune with what interests your buyers. Remember, it’s not all about you. Social media listening is a great way to discover which hashtags, topics and publications prospective customers like. Use these social insights to help inform your content marketing, media buying and PR strategy.
  • Discover who influences your target audience. Social listening also helps you identify the thought-leaders, executives, and bloggers that your buyers share and mention the most. Yes, influencer marketing matters for B2B brands, too.
  • Better execute on account-based marketing initiatives. If you’re selling to a specific set of companies and decision makers you’ll definitely want to monitor their conversations for valuable insights into how to reach and engage them.
How to get started with social listening

With that all in mind, here’s how to make sure you’re doing social listening the right way:

1.  Invest in the right social listening tools. Whether you use free tools (Google alerts, Talkwalker alerts), your social publishing platform (Sprout Social, Hootsuite), or a top enterprise platform, choose the social listening technology that makes the most sense for your B2B brand.

2.  Know what you want to listen to. Start by listening for mentions of your company, executives, and products. Also consider your target accounts, key competitors, and the hashtags most relevant to your business.

3.  Be ready to respond and engage. Customer support question, sales opportunity, emerging social media crisis? Make sure you’ve identified in advance the right people to respond for a given issue so that you can engage and react as needed. Social media is real-time so you can’t afford to figure things out as you go along.

It’s Your Turn

Does your company engage in social listening? Why or why not? What insights are you interested in discovering from social listening? Share your comments below!

[Editors note: this article was first published on CMSWire]