Social Media Listening: 5 Steps To Develop Your B2B or Enterprise Listening Plan Now

50_Shades_Of_Gray_PublicSocial media listening is the new “black” when it comes to B2B and enterprise marketing strategy. However, there are fifty shades of grey when it comes to actually understanding and implementing a program. I like to explain a social media listening plan as a supply chain, where every link is a key part of the overall structure.

Developing a solid end-to-end listening is important for your B2B marketing strategy because it helps to validate what is happening and what you should focus on in real-time!

Here are six key considerations when developing and implementing your listening program:

1. Define the business goals of your social listening program. Your goals will vary based on your needs from your various marketing stakeholders that can include:

  • Find trends for blogging by internal and external influencers
  • Find sales triggers with customers and prospects to be used by your sales team to make relevant sales calls
  • Find customer pain points that can be addressed with marketing campaigns and webinar promotional messaging
  • Find trends to be addressed by solution marketing stakeholders in whitepapers and infographics
  • Find the buzz that can be leveraged by your social media channel managers in their tweets, posts and messaging

2. Develop your use cases for your listening. It is critical that you establish clear use cases for your social media listening program. Start with 3-5 cases that tightly align with your goals. I like to think of listening use cases as plays from a playbook. You need to ask yourself, “now that I have listened, how am I going to activate my next steps to help me reach my goals?” Key considerations for your use cases are:

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  • Do they align to the business goals?
  • Are there resources to execute against the use cases?
  • Are the use cases valued by the end-user/stakeholder>

3. Identify the key words to listen to. Identifying the key words is a job for your marketing strategist, analyst, SEO/SEM specialist and/or industry principal! A rigorous approach to defining the industry, solution, etc. keywords that align the business goal is key to generating usable and actionable insight. Think of the term “garbage in, garbage out”. Securing these words should be lead by a strategist or analyst who is very specific with the keyword ask; i.e., defining the context of what is being done with the listening.

4. Secure your listening tool. There are many free and many better fee- and licensed based tools like NetBase. If you do not have a tool in your social media tool kit, your agency partner likely does!

5. Define the output format for the raw listening data. Work with your analyst and listening provider to create the raw-data delivery format. By defining a report format that aligns with the use cases, it will be easier to perform the analysis. While this step is not critical, it will help with the delivery speed of the report, especially if there are multiple supporting analysts.

6. Align your listening analyst to provide a report that aligns with the use cases and is easy to read! Since listening reports have “legs” in a B2B environment, there is much pass-along of these documents. If you sold in a listening program based on goals and use cases, make sure each analyst report aligns specifically to the use case!

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What experience have you found that works with developing your listening program? Please share with us below? Or, if you have a direct question please contact me on or @GerryMoran on Twitter.

Don’t feel bound or forced into your current approach to listening program. I beg you to rethink your approach and move from fifty shades of grey to six solid ideas to develop a useful social media listening program.

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