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How to Use Social Media Listening Data for B2B Research

By Nate Stedman  •  December 4, 2017

B2B organizations should absolutey utilize online consumer research like social listening. Here's how:

How to Use Social Media Listening Data for B2B Research

Posted by: Nate Stedman on December 4, 2017

You may be surprised to learn that social media analysis and audience research is as important to a B2B organization as it is to consumer-facing brands.


While companies who sell to other businesses have different targets and take prospects on a more complex path through the buyer’s journey, there are a score of advantages to be had with better online research.


It is true, conducting social listening and research will differ from how consumer-facing brands might go through with it. But the simple fact of the matter is, B2B organizations are still trying to sell to people.

In the end, it is people who you’re trying to reach, who will be checking out what you have to offer, and ultimately decide to buy from you or choose one of your competitors.

So, how do you research, discover and better understand the people and businesses you’re looking to convert into customers?

Here’s how you can use social listening data for your B2B business:

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Finding the Right Data

The first thing that you’ll likely notice about any B2B social media research is that the volume of online conversation is smaller than that of B2C brands. Results for a topic around SaaS services or banking technologies won’t have as large of an audience as Coca-Cola or Starbucks. This is because people talk less about the systems and solutions that they use at work on their social networks, and more about the brands that they prefer in their personal lives.

However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t get valuable insight from online conversation regarding business-to-business brands and topics. There are 2 key areas in which online consumer research provides the tools for deeper analysis.

The first and most crucial part of adding to the conversation is found within the data being collected.

A great workaround for this data discrepancy is to normalize the data sources that are pulled from in order to include conversations from blogs and forums which contain much more discussion of B2B brands, products, and consumer pain points.

With tools like Infegy Atlas, you can also filter by source and group sources together that would help round out the data set being analyzed. This can help you get granular with your search to see what people are saying about specific brands, products, companies, groups and people.

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The other key element of this type of analysis comes into play with the ability to identify source-level interests, demographics, and topics. This allows you to build custom audience segments based on how authors self-identify in their content and better understand what is important and relevant to targeted groups.

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Using these two capabilities within the system allows for much deeper analysis of B2B conversation online. Below are 5 specific use-cases in which one or both of these capabilities are leveraged by business-to-business brands for this type of social analysis.

Common Use-Cases

  1. Industry/General Topic Research - While content creators may not mention a specific brand, they do more frequently mention general topics and industries related to their work. Often times, the best place to start when looking for B2B insight is by searching for conversation around the specific product or service your client provides. For example, Intel may be better served looking at conversation around processors and computing power, rather than their particular branded offerings.
  2. Develop Consumer Profiles and Roles -  Rather than simply getting uncategorized data from anywhere like typical social media monitoring tools, social listening tools can help researchers get specific with their audience segmentation and buyer personas. This will help you look at things like interests and emotional drivers behind purchasing decisions. For example, building a custom audience segment for audiences that self identify as software developers in their content (looking at profile info, mentions of coding language or common phrases/topics used by developers) could allow you to understand interests, demographics, and common topics around Intel’s research on “processors” as it relates to developers.
  3. Content Creation and Distribution - Once you’ve identified the common roles and segments you’d like to target, looking into Linguistic analysis to dive deep into topic analysis within conversations is a great way to identify opportunities to create relevant content for your audience. As your content is ready for release, identify where the conversation around a given topic takes place most often, whether a single person or a particular industry website, to share your brand’s voice where it will make the biggest impact.
  4. Brand Analysis - While the conversation around a B2B brand will be lower, it will still have high value. You can create queries in your research including how consumers refer to the brand naturally (@s, hashtags, keywords, slang, phrases) to identify all conversations around the brand and look at trends over time, demographics, key topics, etc. Limited posts would also allow you the capability to dive into post level information and score each post individually if you wish.
  5. Competitive Research - Use each of these examples in relation to other competitors or industries to understand these points of analysis and identify opportunities to leverage advantages and pinpoint areas of improvement in relation to the other businesses in the space.

With these 5 powerful methods of mining social media data, brands in the B2B space can glean more impactful and precise data about the businesses people are trying to reach.

Social media listening provides marketers, analysts and strategists in the B2B and B2C realms alike with valuable insights that aren’t found within any other software consumer research category. Both business types can utilize similar data from a social listening tool but apply it in different ways to understand and reach customers better and enhance their market research.

To see how social listening for B2B can help your organization, get a free, personalized demo with our team here.

Topics: social listening, b2b

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