Social listening is a recently developed concept, and refers to the activity of identifying and measuring data that justifies social media spending. The idea is to use tools (such as Radian6 and Sysomos) that compile and track conversations related to a brand and create insights based on that data to show marketing opportunities.
Jeff Browning, Senior Director of Online Strategy at F5 Networks projects that in 2013, more companies will be expanding their budget to include or grow social listening activities. Having insight into what drives conversation is no longer a luxury, but a necessity that belongs in companies’ overall marketing mixes.
Here are five reasons why B2B companies should invest in social media listening as part of their digital marketing program.
1. Engagement opportunities – Maybe Facebook and Twitter users aren’t talking about your brand. But what about mentions on message boards or blogs? These sites may be producing potential leads by recommending your services to other potential customers. Social listening can help you identify them—and learn what’s being said and how “loudly.” Social listening can also help you identify your brand advocates—people who are crucial in moving the needle forward in any social media efforts.
2. Customer service – Nobody wants to sit on the phone for 20 minutes waiting for a customer service representative. Social media can alleviate this issue. Even in the B2B space, customers are seeking advice and technical expertise. Marketing Zen reported that companies can increase revenue by providing great customer service on social media. Social listening can help companies effectively dedicate resources to resolve issues by integrating social media-based queries into the customer service process.
3. Competitive insights – Social listening can be useful for tracking your competition, even when they aren’t using social media. The right query can help brands find useful information on their competitors and gain a bigger-picture perspective about their industry as a whole. Gaining insight into what customers think about the competition can better inform marketing strategy.
4. Brand reputation – Your reputation matters, especially during customer’s online shopping, research and decision-making processes. One extreme example: United Airlines customer, Dave Carroll, watched baggage handlers throw—and subsequently damage—his expensive guitar. After nine months of calling customer service to no avail, he created a music video that currently has 12 million views and triggered a 10 percent decrease in United Airlines’ stock price (resulting in a loss of $180 million for shareholders). Clearly, it’s important to track a potential crisis and proactively respond before the damage is irreparable.
5. Increase awareness – Share of voice is one of three drivers for market share. A higher share of voice can directly translate to more customers. Even the most basic social listening report will compare your company’s share of voice compared to your top competitors. A good report will not only show the volume, but also key insights as to what factors are creating that volume. Companies with a higher share of voice often have better search engine optimization as well, since online conversations help drive websites’ search rankings.
The best way to get started is to do a social listening audit or hire someone to do it for you in order to get the insights you need to better inform your marketing decisions. In the meantime, check out this great list of free social listening tools.