Have you checked out the festive “Holiday Shopping Mood Meter” from the smart folks at NetBase? They’re tracking the consumer sentiment (i.e., mood) of the top ten retailers during the holiday shopping season using their social intelligence technology. Neat stuff.

The mood meter currently shows Amazon.com with the most positive sentiment of the group while (spoiler alert!)… Walmart has the least. Just keep in mind that people’s moods change and so will the NetBase mood meter. So let’s start saying good things about Walmart on social media to help improve their ranking (just kidding.)

But why do we care about holiday mood meters? We’re B2B marketers after all.

Who understands the mood of your target audience?

Because it got us wondering how many of you really understand the mood of your prospects and customers. We suspect the answer is too few.

Sure, you might do a quarterly or annual survey but that’s not exactly real-time data is it?  And yes, you get feedback at your weekly meeting with the head of sales, but that’s mostly to hear how there aren’t enough leads (and that the leads are crap). Maybe you’re at least tracking social media to get alerted when someone mentions your brand or (oh no) a competitor’s. A good start for sure. But we wouldn’t call that being tuned in to the mood of your target audience. Would you?

Why listen? There are lots of reasons

Instead, you need to develop your very own mood meter for your target audience. In other words, you need a way to really listen to what your prospects and customers are talking about, reading, and sharing on social media.

Here are seven reasons why:

  • Find out which social platforms they’re active on since this is where you want to be playing too. And who knows… you may be surprised (Foursquare and Instagram anyone?)
  • Stay up to date on what keywords and phrases your prospects use to describe their “pain”, the products and features they’re looking for, and the questions they ask. This will help with your brand messaging, content marketing, and search marketing efforts.
  • Discover the content sources they read and share. This is HUGE for understanding what content sources influence your prospects, and where to guest post and advertise.
  • Determine the content types they most engage with. Still writing boring old white papers? Maybe your prospects want infographics, videos, podcasts, or customer success stories.
  • Spot industry news trends catching their attention… and get ready to talk and write about those topics too!
  • Listen for buying signals and respond in an engaging, relevant, and helpful way.
  • Learn more about the needs and unique characteristics of your prospects to inform your buyer personas and profiles.

Doing B2B social marketing the right way

Finding and listening to prospects and customers on social media starts the process of doing B2B social marketing the right way.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Identify prospects and customers that are active on social media.  This doesn’t have to be everyone in your marketing database – just a good sampling of decision makers.  Twitter and LinkedIn are great for this.  Look for prospects that have been active in the last 30 days.
  2. Start keeping track of social activity and conversations.  Set up Google alerts (for each prospect’s name and company), follow them on Twitter, read their blog posts, and join LinkedIn groups that are popular with your target audience.
  3. Look for the patterns and tune your marketing.  Evaluate the data you collect regarding what these folks are talking about, sharing, and reading.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll stumble upon interesting conversations and social insights to start transforming your marketing approach and B2B social marketing efforts.

Now, truth be told, this process can be a bit cumbersome and tedious, as there aren’t a lot of good tools available to help you (a problem we’re working on, by the way!). But stick with it, even if you have to use that duct tape of marketing (spreadsheets) to keep track of everything, as the effort will be more than worth it.

Of course, we realize this isn’t as cool or festive as building a Holiday Shopping Mood Meter… but it is way more helpful for finding, engaging, and converting prospects into customers!

BTW, let us know what tools and services you’re using to listen to your prospects, customers, and influencers.

And if you need more help with your B2B social marketing then read: Struggling with B2B Social Marketing? What to Do Now.