Competitive Intelligence Guide: How To Keep Ahead of the Pack
By Joshua BoydJun 15th
Published January 16th 2014
It is easy to see the use-case for social listening when looking at large consumer brands
They have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of buyers and millions more of potential ones. They have high volumes of online conversation about them, a dedicated social media team to keep an eye on it, and lots of data to find insights.
But what about those B2B companies that sell their services to other businesses?
What about companies that, though hugely successful and large, don’t get talked about much online, and perhaps have a lower number of customers?
When these companies enter the social listening space, they are faced with many different challenges.
The biggest is learning how to quantify the available information on the social web and determining what really matters. So we’ve listed a few tips and tricks for establishing a solid social listening plan to meet your higher level business objectives.
Unless you’re in an industry that has a high consumer crossover, you can expect the volume of online conversation about your brand to be much lower. But fewer conversations doesn’t mean ‘fewer’ valuable. In fact, it can be quite the opposite.
Conversation is often more targeted. Plus, the lower the volume, the less time you’ll need to spend on analysing all relevant mentions.
Most analytics tools will suggest companies to first listen to branded conversation, but many B2B companies don’t have a strong brand presence to listen to in the first place.
Alternatively, they can keep an eye on the audience that really matters: the kind of people that are looking for their brand’s types of products and services. They can then contact these people/companies and attempt to nurture them into sales.
Example: Paul Dunay of Avaya closed a $250,000 sale by responding to a tweet that said “Time for a new phone system very soon.” Analysing buyer keywords such as “new phone system” resulted in a huge opportunity for them.
Using a similar approach as outlined above, you can easily find when someone complains on social media.
Don’t shy away from criticism. By responding immediately and resolving the issue, your customers become even more loyal. If you don’t know the right answers, you can split up mentions into categories and distribute to different team members or experts in the field.
When there is a crisis looming for your company, there is a good chance you will hear about it on the web first. That is, if you are listening for it.
Example: When Boingo Wireless accidentally sent an email meant for just a few clients to 20% of their users, indicating that their accounts would be cancelled, a wave of complaints rolled in on their social networks.
With real-time listening, Boingo was able to mitigate the negative conversations in a matter of hours by apologising, reassuring clients and putting the brakes on further emails.
Similarly, B2B companies can find company or industry critics, listen to what they are saying, and respond suitably.
Noble Caledonia needed to understand the online behavioural traits of people finding, researching and booking small-ship cruise holidays. Read more about it here.
Although branded conversation for B2B companies is generally lower, you’d be surprised to see the amount of chatter going on about your competition on B2B social media (also, the amount of chatter about what they’re not doing).
Example: At Brandwatch, we keep tabs on our competition online. It helps us ascertain where we sit in the complicated field of analytics tools, at least in terms of brand awareness, PR coverage and other measures of visibility.
Social media gives companies the ability to get the kind of quick, voluntary feedback they require to stay agile. This can be especially helpful for businesses that do not have big budgets for research and development.
Identifying what people like – or don’t – about your product will help you understand how to better satisfy customers and prospects’ needs.
Example: As early as 2008, networking giant Cisco has been using social media to launch products. It was only in 2010 when they had social data insights and enough confidence to launch a new router via social media channels alone.
They also established a Second Life presence that included a pre-event concert featuring eight bands. More than 20,000 network engineers played a specially designed 3D game, the winner received a Cisco router and $10,000.
While branded conversation is generally lower for B2B companies, they can put social listening to best use by generating prospects, keeping an eye on the competition, identifying thought leaders, rewarding brand advocates, collecting product feedback and much more.
Companies don’t need to analyse a million mentions to get the news they need.
It’s only a matter of cultivating a deep understanding of relevant conversations online.