B2B Marketing Teams: Your Social Channels Are Talking, But Are You Listening?
B2B marketing is a two-way communication stream; brands and customers conversing and interacting with one another. Although, while 87% of B2B marketers use social media to distribute content, only 24% of brands do “social listening.” Failing to effectively manage both sides of your social media engagement will prevent you from seeing the full benefits of the medium.
Social listening is really about gaining a greater understanding of a specific audience’s behavior, and leveraging that information to form a more cohesive social media strategy. Unfortunately, of the companies that attempt social listening, only 31% of marketers believe that their social listening is fully effective.
In order for social media marketing to work properly, companies need to be able to respond genuinely. Brands need to be able to listen to the right conversations, interact with the right people and respond appropriately to followers. The inability to listen and respond in a timely manner results in the exact opposite of what companies are trying to do with social media marketing. A failure to listen will result in a loss of customers.
What is the Difference between Social Listening and Monitoring?
While these two terms overlap quite often, it’s important that we first get on the same page on the specific differences between monitoring and listening. You have to monitor your social media channels in order to listen to them. However, the difference lies in the depth of engagement. Listening involves more than a surface monitoring of social media channels. It is digging deeper to look for patterns in engagement, key issues or underlying causes behind the issues that come up in conversations.
Social listening is not a passive activity. It’s not simply collecting and accounting for all of the social media conversations and engagements. Social listening goes beyond the surface metrics to the cause or the root of the matter. Instead of monitoring, which simply collects the interactions from your followers, the feedback, conversations, questions, and comments of your relevant audience and the relevant industry news, social listening takes this a step further by analyzing this information and making it actionable for your business.
As we move to discuss some of the goals and tactics of social media listening, here are some of the interpretations, actions and strategy that comes from the social media listening:
Interpreting and Reporting
With 500 million Tweets sent per day, there can be a lot of traffic for businesses to monitor. Take into account the fact that when a user mentions a brand, they only “@mention” that brand 3% of the time. This makes it difficult for B2B marketers to sort through all of the social traffic and analyze only the data most relevant to their business.
To make social media listening feasible and scalable for your business, you need to leverage social media monitoring and analytics tools which can automatically interpret the data you are receiving into clear and actionable reports. The insights you gain from social listening are what will help inform your strategy and actions moving forward.
Informing Social Media Strategy
The biggest reason companies struggle with effective social listening is a lack of clear goals and strategy guiding their social efforts. In fact, 55% of brands have no effective strategy for managing customer complaints on social media.
To get started honing your social listening skills, it is beneficial to set goals. Goals should include the purpose you have for interacting with customers in this manner. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Tracking keywords/phrases or hashtags
- Opportunities for improving customer service
- Opportunities to improve your product offerings
- Looking for leaders or influencers for your brand
- Discovering the unique ways customers use your products
Every brand can determine their goals for social listening. Your goals may be more specific to your industry or company. Social listening can provide many insights into your products and services that you may not have considered in your marketing plan.
Social listening really shows its ROI for B2B companies when it comes to generating leads. According to Business 2 Community, 48% of B2B customers have wanted to buy a new solution, but haven’t spoken up for fear of the risks. Rather than waiting for customers to come out and say they want to buy, sales and marketing is left to seek out their potential customers – on social media.
Here are some of the ways you can use social media to identify your audience’s needs and find ways to fulfill them:
- Set up streams that monitor keywords or mentions on Twitter and Google+
- Use a Social Inbox to listen to the social media updates of your hottest leads
- Tailor your blog content and lead generation offers to the questions and conversations you are monitoring
Improving Customer Service
Most companies realize that, whether you are listening or not, your company is being talked about on social media. That’s why 90% of enterprises say they use social media to respond to customer service inquiries.
Yet, over half (58%) of users who complain about a company on social media never get a response and the average time for those who do get a response is 9 hours.
A big reason for this discrepancy is that most companies are only monitoring their own pages and feeds. When only 3% of the mentions of their company are directed at them, this leaves a large percent going unnoticed and unattended. Using social listening tools that are able to search out any mentions of your brand, industry or keywords will help prevent and customer communication from falling through the cracks.
Social media can offer so many benefits to your business other than promoting content. Through social listening, your business can gain insights into your customers, prospects, and industry. What will set your company apart, and what sets listening apart from simple monitoring, is what you do with those insights and how they help you inform your social strategy and provide a better experience for your users.
Does your company rely on social listening? Let us know how you use it in the comments!
Cover image via Flickr @robellisphotography