Video: Basics of B2B Social Media Monitoring

Social media starts with listening or monitoring the social web, but before you can begin, you need to know what you are looking for. We caught up with Amber Naslund, Director of Community at Radian6, and asked her about the basics of social media monitoring for B2B companies. Watch the video as she discusses the following topics:

  • Three parts of monitoring: brand centric mentions, competitive intelligence, industry intelligence.
  • Build your own dashboard using iGoogle or Netvibes or other sites where you can aggregate multiple RSS feeds.
  • What is the tipping point to upgrade to higher-level, or paid solutions?
  • How do you begin to understand the sentiment of the data you find?

Amber blogs at and tweets from @ambercadabra.

Are You Really Listening to your B2B Customers?

Every discussion of social media begins with someone telling you that you need to start any social media campaign or program by listening. What are you really listening for? Mentions of your brand, your industry, your competitors? Maybe you find and follow blogs from industry thought leaders to understand the social media landscape in your niche. But once you start tweeting, blogging and creating content on the social web, it becomes even more critical to listen for mentions of your company or brand.

Social media outlets, and especially Twitter, have become a communications tool for customers to reach out to their vendors. It has become publicly acceptable to complain online about your experiences. And make sure to use the proper Twitter account in your complaint. Sometimes it is venting to feel better, while other times it is done to warn others about the experience. But from the vendor side of things, this is some of the most important listening that you do.

The following example comes, a business phone and data provider in Cary, North Carolina (disclosure: and a client). I had nothing to do with this situation, but because they are a client, I also monitor their brand mentions, so I observed the following in real time. (Note that screenshots of customer tweets were captured immediately, while those from Bandwidth were captured the next day, so the time stamps don’t seem to match even though they occurred in the same time period).

An existing customer makes a comment about a problem that customer service wasn’t able to solve.

That comment is retweeted.

A new customer wonders what he has gotten himself into.

The original customer responds to the new customer and says he is normally a fan, but expresses a bit of frustration the customer service rep didn’t try hard enough.

The company replies to the user and others who tweeted the complaint or tweeted about it.

The original customer tweets that he received a phone call within minutes of his tweet of frustration.

That comment is retweeted.

The company publicly replies to the customer that customer service is dealing with the issue, even after the phone call talking to him on the phone. They also include an email address for additional contact.

The company thanks those involved for their patience.

The next day, the original customer tweets that customer service followed through.

That comment is retweeted.

This is a real example where a company monitored Twitter and saw a tweet from an existing customer that required follow-up. And that follow-up was a phone call. The person was a customer so it was easy to find their phone number and call. The one piece of inside information that I have is that the social media person, in the marketing department, is the one who followed up with the customer. After the phone call he followed up with customer service so they could solve the customer’s issue.

These situations are easy to find on Twitter, but you need to make sure you are looking. Whatever tool you use to manage your company Twitter account, even the Twitter website, makes it easy to spot Tweets with your account name, but you also need to set up searches for the company name without the @ and some common misspellings. Do this even if you have a simple company name (search Twitter for Goggle). The other part of this was that social media person has the authority to perform customer service. There is no need for approvals up the command chain. Note the three parts of the customer’s tweets: 1. follow-up to tweet 2. quick response 3. follow-through to solve the problem. This situation also points to the importance of setting up monitoring tools across the social web, because the comments are just as likely to appear on forums or other sites.

So the next time you discover a customer service situation on Twitter, as a marketing, pr or communication person, or even an agency, what is your customer service role? What are your means of response and time of response? How do you connect the dots back with the traditional customer service department? And how do you enter this as a resolved case into your CRM system, because you know that you should?

Exploiting Social Media Monitoring For B2B Lead Generation

If you have read more than one blog post about social media, it is likely then that you have read one about the importance of listening and monitoring social mentions and conversations. All of the bloggers out there are right. Listening is very important. However, what has largely gone overlooked during this listening craze has been ideas to leverage listening to benefit business objectives. The great thing about social media monitoring is that it gives you a chance to get in front of the right people in a different way.

Bloggers have been doing this for years They mention important bloggers, or influencers, in their posts, in hopes that the important bloggers will read the post and possibly tell their audience about the ideas in it. It is time for B2B companies to adopt this approach and use it not only for influencer marketing, but also for lead generation.

Calling Out Prospects
Most agencies and consultants are selling listening programs to your customers complete with daily briefing reports of direct mentions about their company and industry. They are doing the work, monitoring and sharing it with executives and internal staff members on the client side. Tools like Radian6, Filtrbox, and even Google Alerts, are making listening easier than ever before.

So what happens if you directly call out, or mention, potential customers in blog posts or other social content? That’s right. The potential lead will read the post thanks to their spiffy new monitoring campaign. I would argue that mentioning the company multiple times will likely bring about a note highlighting it in the monitoring report, thereby drawing more attention to the mentions.

You Still Have To Say Something Valuable
It is important to remember that if you decide that this approach is worth trying, that you still have to say something valuable and relevant about their business situations. People gravitate to others that help them solve problems. I would recommend writing about what the prospect needs to solve their current business issues, not how awesome your cool new product is. Demonstrating that you understand their current business situation and their position among competitors is likely enough to generate some type of response.

Right now you are likely say: “aren’t we telling our competitors who we are targeting?” My response would be: don’t they already know? This doesn’t give away your whole sales and marketing strategy. It instead gives you another method to get in the door with potential customers that had previously been unresponsive. If you have a strong relationship with the lead, then you don’t need to take this approach. Look at this as an opportunity to open a dialogue and get your company on their radar.

Can They Call You Easily?
This may sound trivial, but there is this thing called a phone and it lets you talk to people. In the day of e-mail and social networks, I would argue that the phone is now a more valuable tool then ever, because it is being used less. For many e-mail is easier, not faster, but lets a sales person say “I sent them a note about that last week.” It gets us all of the hook. We have all done it.

My point is that if you are going to use this approach, make sure it is effortless for them to call the right person. Leave the name and direct number at the bottom of the blog post and/or include it in the sidebar of your blog. Look over to the right of this post. You see several ways to easily contact Jeff and me. Yes, if you call the phone number on the right, you will reach me and we will talk about whatever you want. A sales situation should be the exact same way.

Is this idea crazy? Would you do it? What is the risk? An hour of your time?

We have talked constantly that social media is changing the way B2B companies get information and interact with external audiences. Our challenge as marketers and industry leaders is to step back and take time to think about how we can develop new ways of connecting and driving transactions.