3 Things You Can Learn about Your Industry from Social Listening

We’ve already gone over the basics of all the good things social listening can do for your marketing strategy. But what about the valuable information you can glean about your industry? Below, we’ve listed five things you can learn about your field through social listening—something that’s essential for B2B companies. For details, check out our whitepaper, “The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Social Listening.”

Identify Industry Leaders

Forrester Research found that

  • 13.4% of U.S. adults online create 80% of the content that influences people
  • 6.2% of these web users are responsible for 80% of the influence in social media

Knowing who wields influence in your field can help you form powerful partnerships. A positive review or mention from these industry leaders can do a lot for your business, and social listening makes it easy to find and reach out to them.

Social Media Examiner recommends compiling a spreadsheet of 10 to 20 potential influencers and using an “influence-scoring” program to rank how much clout they have in your industry. Another option is to search for relevant LinkedIn groups, Google+ communities, Facebook pages, and other online forums and identify the active members or moderators.

Once you find the key players, monitor what they say online. Subscribe to their blogs, newsletters, and tumblrs, for example, or follow them on Twitter. Use a content aggregator to collect the writing they do for various media outlets.

After you’ve spent some time listening, you can start to build a relationship with them. Social Media Examiner lists these steps as a good starting point:

  • Promote their content, cause and products
  • Comment on their content
  • Contribute to their Facebook pages and LinkedIn Groups
  • Message them when appropriate
  • Create content for them
  • Attend their events
  • Buy their products and services
  • Hire them as a coach or consultant
  • Send them referrals

If you do what you can for them and help increase their exposure, they’ll be more open to promoting your products and brand.

Get the Competitive Edge

To run a successful business, it’s not enough to know only what your customers are up to. You also need to keep tabs on what the competition is doing. Fortunately, social listening can help you get the scoop on their movements, as well as what people are saying about them.

It’s pretty straightforward: follow your competitors on the channels they use, like Facebook, Twitter, etc., and take note of any announcements or other significant updates. Additionally, listen for any criticism and/or praise from industry leaders, and from ordinary customers, too. You can avoid making the same mistakes these businesses make; you may even be able to persuade a vocal brand advocate to support your company instead.

Keep Up with Industry Trends

Social listening not only lets companies respond to individual customer needs in real time; it also helps companies track and adjust to new trends. Per a recent Business 2 Community article:

Social listening can provide that same real-time monitoring for “in game,” in-the-moment changes in engagement strategy and content. And just like it takes intelligent offensive linemen to “see through the disguise” of NFL blitzes and stunts, analytics and sentiment analysis applied to social listening can help you identify those “you don’t know what you don’t know” trouble spots for your brand…or opportunities for your brand to dominate the competition!

To give an example, in our post on social listening last week, we talked about how a local bank could monitor conversations that discussed mortgages and lending practices. Since the bank is small, the bank might not find a lot of people talking about it specifically. However, conversations about the industry itself could prove useful to its marketing strategy. If, say, they notice people talking favorably about a specific type of mortgage they’d received, or an industry leader is touting the benefits of a certain lending structure, the bank could conceivably adapt these ideas and market them.

B2B companies would do well to incorporate social listening into their marketing strategies. You’ll be able to see what everyone’s saying, at personal and industry-wide levels.


William Flanagan

CEO & Founder, Audienti. Former VP-Cognio, Founder-sentitO/Verso, SALIX/Tellabs, PrimaryAccess/3Com, CompuServe. Expert in data-driven marketing.

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