B2B companies are often at the forefront of innovation and the transformation of the business landscape. This has been the case for a number of years already. And because of this, certain expectations have set in. With expectations comes added pressure. B2B companies are under pressure to do just that – innovate and transform the business landscape. Stagnation is the death knell of a B2B company.
In this short article, we’ll take a look at the latest trend in B2B companies – social listening. In a concerted effort to drive innovation and spearhead strategies for improvement, B2B companies are implementing tools to find out what their customers (current and potential) and employees (current and potential) are saying about their brand and the market.
Discovering pain points, mitigating crises before they become unmanageable, and identifying potential problems and their solutions are just some of the huge benefits B2B companies stand to gain from this practice.
Read on to find out more about social listening, why you need to do it, and how best to go about it.
With the use of tools that monitor and analyze conversations across social media platforms, companies are gathering insights into what people are saying about their brand, product, and service (as well as what employees are saying about the organization’s company culture). By monitoring social media sites, B2B companies get data that is contextualized within an emotional resonance. This gives social listening a level of sophistication and power that surveys and website analytics simply cannot aspire to.
The difference between “monitoring” and “listening” is a question of depth and purpose. As opposed to monitoring social media sites, social listening aims for a more profound investigation. Additionally, the purpose behind social listening is quite different. Whereas social monitoring is often employed to assess the performance of a punctual campaign, social listening strives to extract actionable data that will lead to change, innovation, and a refinement of business practices (both internal and external).
The goal of social listening is, firstly, to understand the emotional resonance or sentiment the brand is having on the public at large. From this understanding, social listening should then inform the company about what kind of marketing strategies to develop and what kind of adjustments need to be made in terms of their product and service.
Social listening is also concerned with the mood or sentiment of the company’s employees. Data collected from social listening should then be used to generate employee engagement ideas to motivate your team.
By utilizing social listening, HR can gauge how their organization's brand is perceived in the job market. In many instances, responding to a job offer is that person’s first contact with that organization. It is where first impressions are formed, and whether those impressions are good or bad can have a ripple effect, not only throughout the job market but also into the sentiment of consumers as well.
Social listening should provide companies with insights that can help them improve candidate experience, thus improving the brand’s overall image. Social listening provides data that can help companies address any negative feedback or promote positive aspects, ultimately aiding in building a strong employer brand.
According to Teamtailor, over 80% of job seekers rank the reputation of the company as a significant determining factor in whether they will apply to them or not. In simple terms, employer branding will determine how effective a company is in attracting top talent.
If the quality of your employees is important to you (and it’s hard to imagine why it wouldn’t be), then employer branding should be a top concern.
Employer branding is impacted by “word of mouth” coming from two sources – employees (and largely what they share on social media platforms about the employee experience) and candidates (similarly, what they share on social media platforms about the candidate experience).
In an attempt to understand employees’ feelings and potential frustrations in regard to the workplace environment and company culture, HR professionals employed tactics such as personal conversations and anonymous surveys. However, there is a stark difference between what an employee is willing to say directly to their bosses or peers and what they are willing to say in the comfort and familiarity of a social context.
Even anonymous surveys, when conducted within the framework of the work environment, are easily tainted with inauthenticity. To understand what employees truly think and how they truly feel, it is ideal to hear them express themselves unfiltered and in a comfortable setting outside of the workplace. Prior to the advent of social media platforms, this was an unrealistic, if not impossible, ideal. However, now the prevalence and popularity of social media sites provide employers with exactly that opportunity.
Even in an anonymous context, the data collected from social media platforms can provide insights with emotional resonance that simply were not available to HR professionals in the past. Nowadays, equipped with the right tools, HR professionals can leverage social listening to monitor and investigate employees' online conversations and feedback about their work environment, managerial practices, training and onboarding, work methods, accountability and rewards programs, and a whole host of other important factors that contribute to the makeup of the employee experience.
Social listening provides data. But this data is only useful when it is then used to make direct changes or improvements. The data collected from social listening needs to inform policies and practices that boost employee engagement. Additionally, social listening should then be used to monitor the effectiveness of these revised policies and practices.
Employee engagement is the measure in which employees are invested in the company and the tasks they have been charged with. It also measures how willing employees are to take the initiative, how willing they are to assume responsibility for their performance, and how willing they are to “go the extra mile.”
In recent years, many companies across all sectors of activity have reported unprecedentedly low levels of employee engagement. The phenomenon was so pronounced that it spawned the coining of a new pithy term: quiet quitting.
Employee engagement is a determining factor in employee retention (thus determining how much of the HR department’s budget is wasted on avoidable recruitment, training, and onboarding efforts). It is also a determining factor in the level of productivity and innovation.
The factors that impact employee engagement are as diverse and numerous as the employees themselves. This is why social listening is such an effective tool for understanding and improving employee engagement.
Some of the more oft-cited factors that impact employee engagement revolve around the employees’ perceived ability to express their talents, being challenged (while not being overwhelmed), and being recognized for their efforts.
Company culture plays a large role in employee engagement. Employees want to believe in and identify with the mission and values of the company. This is why it’s important to recognize that employee engagement begins with the recruitment process, finding candidates that align with the company’s mission and values.
If you're looking for ways to gain insights into your employees' engagement levels, consider measuring employee engagement with metrics as part of your strategy.
With the help of media monitoring software, choose the sources (social media platforms) you want to track. Set up keyword searches that target your brand or your industry at large. Monitoring beyond your brand can carry with it the added benefit of comparing your performance with that of your competitors.
Make use of AI-generated analysis and reporting. Better social listening tools can summarize the content and recommend actions to take. Dive deep into the analysis of language and tone to gain insights into the emotional resonance your brand is creating. Social listening differentiates itself from other data-collection practices by seeking to gain insights into how your customers, employees, and investors feel about your brand.
Take action. Integrate social listening into all aspects of your company, from recruitment and training to marketing and promotion. Social listening is effective at gathering and analyzing crucial data. But that data is only beneficial to your company if it then informs the decisions and actions of the company.
Monitor the effectiveness of improvements and initiatives taken. Social listening should not be a punctual action but rather a continual, integrated component of your marketing campaigns. Attitudes change, moods shift, and perceptions waver. Social listening should be used regularly to keep abreast of fluctuations in how your brand is resonating with consumers and employees.
What are customers saying about your brand? What are your employees saying about their work environment and company culture? More importantly, how do they feel about these aspects, which will ultimately determine whether your company succeeds or fails? This is what social listening seeks to answer. And with the right tools and adherence to best practices, social listening is capable of providing insights that can shape your marketing strategies and employee engagement initiatives.
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