As you’re reading this article, millions of consumers across all industries are voicing opinions about brands, products, and services on social media. For Xerox channel partners, most of this B2B social activity is taking place on Twitter and LinkedIn. Finding and monitoring these interactions is known as social listening, and it can be one of the most beneficial tools for collecting intelligence to grow your company.
The importance of social listening:
Originally, the benefits of social media for B2B marketing came from its ability to drive traffic to websites. Over time, social media has become so much more; a place to network, find a job, locate product testimonials, and express feelings (good and bad) about suppliers.
For channel partners, social media is a mechanism for generating demand, influencing buying decisions, and gaining competitive intelligence. And while there are numerous paid and free tools to help the listening process, it really just begins with monitoring keywords, hashtags or phrases.
Search social media platforms for:
- Your business name
- The names of your competitors
- The brands that you sell
- The product names you sell
- Product specific terminology your prospects might use such as “all in one printer”, “MFP”, or “managed print services”
Finding your audience on social media
While Facebook still dominates the social media space, it may not be the best place to find audiences relevant to your business, especially for B2B. Preferences for one platform over another vary depending on region, age, gender and other demographics.
Start with your existing customers
I assume that you already capture the social media accounts for your existing customers and have them stored in your customer database – you do right? If not, go to their website today, look for their social media badges and capture the URLs for their:
- LinkedIn company page
- Company Twitter handle
- Facebook company page
- Google Plus page
- Blog page
Then you can prioritize the social media channels used most by your existing customers.
Then sprinkle in buyer persona insights
If you have them, use your buyer personas to hone in on the terms and phrases your target buyer uses to describe their challenges and make sure you listen where they “hang out” online.
Don’t have your own buyer personas yet? In this article, Leah Quesada, Xerox VP Global Channels Marketing, explains how buyer personification drives demand generation, and includes a step-by-step guide to the personification process.
Engage your audience:
After selecting the appropriate platform(s) and keywords or phrases worth listening for, you’ll likely come across posts mentioning print and copy solutions and products, as well as the industry as a whole. Occasionally you may see a post about your company or the brand that you sell. All these posts signal opportune times to engage users.
Three ways social listening can uncover growth opportunities:
- Social listening as a method to make connections with non-competitors for the purpose of amplifying each other’s content is key to gaining reach and driving demand. Search “save printing costs” and find a post with a link to an article your audience will find relevant. Respond to the user, thank them for sharing, and start a conversation.
- A post is found that asks a question about the print and copy industry or any other topic relevant to your business. Take the time to express your expertise by offering insights and don’t forget to connect with that user if you’re not already connected.
- Monitor phrases such as “competitor name + can’t” or “competitor name + won’t” to find and connect with users who are dissatisfied with your competitors. Connect and then offer useful advice and solutions.
Insights inform strategy:
Monitoring keywords will help you drive demand for your products and solutions, and find buyers and prospects. Listening for what users say about your competition can help you gain an edge. But using social media to position your business in the right place at the right time to answer questions and add value is what turns listening into relationships.
Insights from social listening can also inform your content strategy. For example, a social media post might highlight a customer’s pain points or the answer to a question might be of interest to a larger audience. Develop those ideas into longer content; blogs or e-books and publish them on your website to drive demand and lead generation.
Join our Xerox Channel Partners LinkedIn Community
The next time you’re on a social platform, take a few minutes to try listening, and for more marketing tips and tricks join and participate in our exclusive partner-only LinkedIn group.
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