When we read about the importance of listening, monitoring and being active in social media, it is typically in reference to B2C companies. Social media is almost seen as “sexy” and a “must-have strategy” for B2C success, yet we tend to hear less about how important real-time listening and social media monitoring  is for B2B companies. Typically, B2B marketers are not looking for the “sexy” solution; they want practical ways to measure their brand, their campaigns, and their place in the market, and they want to use that intelligence to make impactful business decisions. What’s more, many B2B companies don’t think that they have enough brand mentions to warrant monitoring online conversations. But B2B companies, like their B2C counterparts, can benefit tremendously from listening to conversations in the social sphere.
From brand management to lead generation, there are many advantages for organizations that tune in to social media conversations, and the insights gleaned from listening (and then acting upon) those conversations can lead to smarter business decisions for almost any company in any industry. It’s no exception in the B2B space, so let’s look in a bit more detail at five benefits to social media “listening”:
- Building a Corporate Brand. For many organizations, a strong, well-managed brand is key to survival and one of the most important measures of success. By listening to the conversations about their organization across social channels, B2B marketers can recognize opportunities to move the needle and strengthen their brand(s). What is my company’s reputation? How does my brand measure up against my competitors’ brands? What are my own employees saying about our company? What is the overall tone of those community conversations? These are all questions that can be answered by listening. And for organizations that discover their brand does not have a significant online presence, it can be the perfect chance to establish one and grow it from the inside out with the communities that matter most.
- Managing (even Avoiding) Crisis Situations. The real-time, no-holds-barred conversations that take place in social media can do major (even irreparable) damage to a brand when a crisis or controversy hits. And while no company wants a crisis on its hands, listening to the social media conversations surrounding the crisis can help tremendously with damage control, clarification of facts and reputation management. Companies can choose to listen only to negative mentions and discussion, and deal appropriately with those. Although it’s certainly no guarantee, companies that take a more proactive approach to social media listening, making it part of an ongoing marketing strategy and not a last-minute tactic, may just find themselves able to better avert disaster and put out fires before they start.
- Identifying Advocates and Naysayers. Who is spreading the word – good, bad or other — about your brand? Who are your brand advocates and ambassadors, and who are your detractors and critics? Identifying even the top few friends and foes can give you instant insight into your brand perception. It can also give you the opportunity to build stronger relationships with your advocates, and potentially convert naysayers into fans.
- Monitoring the Competition. While it’s essential to listen to all that is said about your brand, it’s also smart to listen to the discussions and opinions about your competitors. Opportunities abound for you to discover what others like and dislike about your competitors, from their products and services, to their customer service (or lack of). And if your company offers a product set similar to your competitors’, you might just be able to capitalize on those conversations and steal a customer or two.
- Increase Lead Generation and Sales. Social media continues to change the face of commerce for everyone – buyers and sellers alike. Marketers are realizing that there is a fantastic opportunity to leverage real-time monitoring to recognize and capture timely sales leads. Listening to the discussions among your customers and prospects in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social channels gives you incredible insight into where sales opportunities exist along with the intelligence you need to get in there and take advantage. And, by tapping into what advocates of your brand are saying, you can leverage the influence of others to drive sales for your company.
Visit the Sysomos business library for social media  to get started with social media monitoring, and discover how social media listening and engagement can improve all areas of your business. The library is chock full of resources, webinars, white papers and real-world applications that you can apply in the areas of campaign promotion and management, customer service, product and offer development and sales.
And if you’re looking for the basics on monitoring and trying to figure out just what it means to be “engaged,” we’ve got great educational content for you:
- Data vs. Insight: Gaining Actionable Business Insights by Monitoring Social Media Conversations  [white paper]
- Mastering Audience Engagement: Reinventing Your Role in a New Media World  [eBook]