Social media offers one huge and very unique advantage for B2B and B2C brands, it gives you the chance to listen in on what others are saying about you - both the good and the bad.
But the thought of there being potentially negative comments can make social media seem a scary place for some businesses. So much so that they may opt out from even having a social media presence at all.
The reality is that whether you’re on social media or not, people will still talk about you. By not being there you just won’t be able to listen, to learn, to respond, to influence, or to counteract any messages with your own positive ones. In other words, you’re potentially missing out on a massive marketing opportunity.
Talking to a global audience
In the past, when customers had an issue with a brand they would probably tell their friends, family and perhaps work colleagues. But that was about it. The maximum number of people they could reach with their comments would be fairly small, with a few maybe making it into the local newspaper.
In today’s digital world, however, things are very different. Nowadays, anybody can post an opinion on social media and in doing so make it viewable by people around the globe. That means the potential audience for such messages is far, far bigger.
While some B2Bs may not feel the need to go for full blown social media campaigns, in the same way that consumer brands might, it is still vital that they’re monitoring what’s going on so they know what people are saying in real-time.
The best thing any brand can do is to begin by listening. What are others doing and saying – such as companies that are similar to you? What are your key competitors doing? What are the companies you aspire to be like doing? How about your own company, do you get mentioned much online? If so, in what ways and by who? If not, then through your listening you can start to work on ways to change that and being generating your own positive conversations.
Setting up a social media listening station
So what’s the best way to begin listening?
Setting up a social media listening station is a great place to start. The number of social media sites now available means it is just not practical to log in manually to each one, even just doing the top few would take up lots of time. The good news is many specialist tools have now being developed that can help with this is, so you can more easily stay on top of what is happening.
Using listening, or monitoring tools as they’re also known, can help you filter out the info you really want. They can help you track conversations around particular topics or keywords, helping you not only monitor conversations but get active and involved in them. The tools make finding the information quick and simple to do.
What to listen to
Listening to what people are saying about you, your industry and checking up on competitors, can all be great for business. Social media monitoring apps allow you to set up customized search streams. They can crawl through the public conversation streams taking place on the various platforms and filter out the bits you want to hear.
Here are some ideas for the type of monitoring you could set up:
- All mentions of your company and/or brand name(s)
- Mentions of the names of key company spokespeople
- Competitor name/spokesperson mentions
- Any mentions of key clients
- Any mentions of client companies and key individuals that you really want to land
- Specific keywords (being careful not to be too broad with the terms or it won’t help you much)
- Mentions of a specific campaign you’re running
- Monitoring which content of yours is being shared
Taking it a step further
- You can use the tools to find key online influencers who are talking about your industry and who it would be great to get in front of
- You can set up searches for industry terms and key organisations that will help you spot new trends
- How do your customers verbalize the problem they have that your product could solve? If you can find this out then you can set up a search to spot those types of comments. This could prove to be a source of leads but just as a warning here, is not easy to pull off and is also not possible in all circumstances.
Sharing across teams
Make sure you’re maximising the potential benefit of all the information you gain. We’re not just talking about marketing teams here, look at the type of insights you’re getting and see who would find it useful. For example, there may be elements your research and development team would find interesting, or feedback your HR team might benefit from, try and think as broadly as you can with all teams in mind.
Social media monitoring can be particularly useful in helping you spot potential ‘crisis’ situations early on. This gives you a chance to get ahead of the game, to react and get proactive, rather than just being left with damage control after public opinion is already formed. Of course, with social media being instant, time won't be on your side so you’ll need to get straight on it.
Top 5 monitoring tools
There are now loads of tools that can help you monitor social media sites. In most cases you’ll need to create an account and to set up (to some extent at least) a profile. Most tools will need your login info to be able to access the different platforms and start monitoring them for you. Also, bear in mind that while some tools may offer a free solution at entry level, when it comes to business services there is likely to be a charge.
Hootsuite: Allows you to manage and measure multiple social media platforms from one dashboard. You can also schedule posts, track mentions and analyze social media traffic to track conversions and measure campaign results.
Sprout Social: A social media management and engagement platform for businesses, this tool offers three main functions: publishing, engagement and analytics. Users can integrate multiple social media accounts, monitor them and get detailed analytics and in-depth reports.
Simply Measured: One of the most comprehensive monitoring tools on the market. It allows you to monitor and assess all social media activity in one place and can generate both summary and detailed performance reports, from top social networks to analyze owned, earned, and paid social media, as well as audience insights with cross-channel analysis.
Radian6: Part of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Radian6 gives businesses the ability to analyze, manage, track, and report on their social media and engagement efforts. It provides social media monitoring with a flexible dashboard that enables monitoring of all forms of social media with results appearing in real-time.
Brandwatch: A business platform that allows advanced social media monitoring and analytics. It allows you to monitor, analyze and utilize online conversations about your brand, competitors and topics of interest from across the world, in 27 languages.
For a full list of all the tools on the market - which can help with everything from social media monitoring to SEO and brand mentions - check out this comprehensive list from Marketingland.
For any B2B, successfully building relationships lies at the heart of sales success and social media offers a unique opportunity for this. As marketing platform sites of this nature can help open doors and encourage connections. They give you a way to listen to your customers and new prospects, to hear exactly what they are saying.
Thanks to the many monitoring tools now available, it is very easy to keep tabs on all the social chatter and to pull out the information you most need and want. All that is then left to do is to use that information to its full potential - whether that’s providing useful insights to different teams, flagging up and reacting to a potential issue, or simply getting yourself in the right place at the right time. Overall helping you to capitalise on the opportunities that social media has to offer.