Social listening: The key to unlocking B2B sales opportunities on social media

Social listening: The key to unlocking B2B sales opportunities on social media

By Ready For Social | Apr 3, 2023

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Social media has become an essential tool for businesses of all sizes to connect with their audience, build brand awareness, and generate sales. However, many companies still struggle to leverage social media to drive B2B sales effectively. The solution? Social listening. By listening to the conversations happening on social media, B2B companies can uncover valuable insights that can lead to increased sales opportunities.

While we all understand the importance of excellent listening skills and clear communication, being a good listener is challenging. Do you consider yourself a good listener—in life and on social media?

If you are not an expert yet, don’t worry! This article will give you the basics of social listening, explain why listening to your brand’s audience is crucial, and tell you how to know what your customers need and want.

What is social listening exactly?

Before diving into the specifics, let’s first understand social listening. Social listening is sometimes called social media listening and involves monitoring social media channels to understand what people say about your brand, industry, or competitors. It’s an essential component of social media strategy because it enables businesses to respond quickly to customer needs and stay ahead of industry trends.

What’s the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

Social listening actively seeks and analyzes online conversations and feedback about a specific brand, product, or industry. This practice involves using social media monitoring tools to track mentions of relevant keywords, hashtags, and brand names across various social media platforms. Social listening aims to gain insights into customer preferences, sentiment, and behavior and use that information to inform marketing and business strategies. 

Social monitoring, on the other hand, is more focused on identifying and addressing customer service issues or crises on social media. This procedure involves monitoring social media channels for brand or product mentions and promptly responding to negative feedback or complaints. Social monitoring aims to maintain a positive brand reputation and improve customer satisfaction.

While social listening and social monitoring involve tracking online conversations related to a brand or product, social listening focuses on gathering insights and informing business strategies. In contrast, social monitoring addresses customer service issues and maintains a positive brand image.

How can social listening unlock B2B sales opportunities?

Social listening has become more critical than ever due to the increasing prevalence of social media in our daily lives. Today, billions of people use social media platforms to connect with others, share information, and voice their opinions. According to Hootsuite, over 4.4 billion social media users are active worldwide. This number is projected to increase to 4.8 billion by 2025.

A survey by Sprout Social found that 86% of consumers prefer to engage with brands through social media, and 57% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media. As a result, social media has become a vast repository of data that provides valuable insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and brand reputation.

Social listening allows businesses to tap into this wealth of data and better understand their customers’ needs, preferences, and sentiments. By monitoring social media channels for relevant keywords, hashtags, and mentions, businesses can track what people say about their brand, products, and services in real time. This hack enables them to identify potential issues or opportunities, respond to customer feedback, and engage with their audience more meaningfully.

Did you know that social media has become a primary source of information for many consumers, particularly millennials and Gen Z? These demographics are more likely to research products and services online before purchasing. Social media platforms are often their go-to source for information. A survey by GlobalWebIndex found that 54% of consumers use social media to research products, and 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. By leveraging social listening, businesses can better understand what their target audience is looking for, how they make purchasing decisions, and what motivates them to engage with a brand.

A study by Salesforce found that businesses that use social listening saw a 25% increase in customer satisfaction and a 23% increase in customer retention. According to a report by Business Insider Intelligence, the social listening and analytics market is projected to reach $10.6 billion by 2025, indicating the growing importance of social listening for businesses.

What are the benefits of social listening?

From identifying your potential customers to learning your clients’ needs to engaging with your audience in meaningful ways, social listening can help B2B companies. So let’s discuss specific ways social listening can unlock your B2B sales opportunities.

  • Identifying potential customers 

Social listening allows businesses to identify potential customers actively seeking products or services in their industry. By monitoring relevant keywords and hashtags, B2B companies can discover and engage with new leads in real time.

  • Understanding customer needs

Social listening can also provide valuable insights into customer needs, wants, and pain points. By analyzing the conversations happening on social media, B2B companies can identify common challenges their customers face and tailor their offerings to meet those needs.

Whether your customers share what they love about your brand or have ideas on what to improve – use this valuable feedback to optimize your offering and make your customers happier.

  • Engaging with customers

Social listening enables businesses to engage with their customers more personally. By responding to customer inquiries and feedback, B2B companies can build trust and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry. Social listening is also a great way to build long-lasting relationships with existing customers and shows possible clients that you genuinely care.

Social listening also comes in handy when you are in crisis mode. It’s an early warning system that alerts you on any positive and negative changes concerning your brand online. Since you can track sentiment in real time, you can react just as fast and initiate the necessary changes.

  • Monitoring competitors

Social listening lets businesses keep tabs on competitors and stay ahead of industry trends. By analyzing the conversations around their competitors, B2B companies can identify areas where they can differentiate themselves and offer unique value to their customers.

So, monitor conversations around the industry to uncover valuable insights about what’s working and learn from the examples that are not. Don’t forget to share this information with your customer service, product development, and marketing teams.

How can you get started with social listening?

Are you excited to get started with social listening? Wonderful! We have one more checklist to share before you can up your game.

  • Define your goals.

Before you start listening, defining what you want to achieve is essential. Are you looking to improve customer service, gather feedback on your products, monitor your competitors, or stay up-to-date with industry trends?

  • Choose the proper social media channels.

Determine which social media channels are most relevant to your brand and audience. The selection could include platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or others.

  • Select a social listening tool.

There are many social listening tools available, both free and paid. Most of them will help you monitor conversations happening on social media. These tools also make it easier to track sentiment and analyze trends. Some popular options include Hootsuite Insights, Sprout Social, and Brandwatch. Don’t get overwhelmed by the selection, but simply choose a tool that best fits your needs and budget.

  • Set up your listening parameters & identify relevant hashtags.

Define the keywords, hashtags, and mentions that you want to track. These could include your brand name, product name, competitors’ names, and industry keywords. Identifying relevant keywords and hashtags related to your industry, products, and services will allow you to monitor the conversations around those topics and identify potential customers.

  • Monitor and analyze. 

Once you’ve set up your listening parameters, monitor social media channels for mentions. Analyze your collected data to uncover insights and identify opportunities, including pain points, competitor activity, and sentiment. Use the insights you gather to inform your marketing, customer service, and product development strategies.

  • Take action.

Use the insights you gather to respond to customer feedback, address issues, and improve your brand’s reputation. Social listening is only helpful if you act on the information you collect.

Now it’s time to listen!

As you can see, social listening is a powerful tool that can help B2B companies unlock sales opportunities on social media. By monitoring the conversations happening on social media, B2B companies can identify potential customers, learn about their needs, and engage with them in meaningful ways. To get started with social listening, identify relevant keywords and hashtags, use social media monitoring tools, and analyze the data to uncover insights and opportunities. Leveraging social listening can help you stay ahead of industry trends and drive increased sales opportunities.

But remember: Social listening is an ongoing process. It’s critical to regularly monitor and analyze your social media channels to stay up-to-date with your customers and industry trends.

Do you want to learn even more about social listening? No problem! Tune in to the Straight to Business Podcast episode Social listening & pipeline signals. Jamie Shanks, CEO of Sales for Life, the world’s largest Digital Selling training program for mid-market and enterprise companies, will tell you the secrets to an expert social listening approach.

As always, let us know your thoughts on the topic! We can’t wait to hear about your experience with social listening in the comments.

Photos by Andrea Piacquadio on; Christina Morillo on; and Joeyy B on