I’ve created a four component framework for developing and executing a robust B2B social media strategy that has resonated well with our clients, whether they’re just starting out in social media or are looking to optimize their continuing efforts. The four components are: Monitor, Engagement, Awareness and Demand Creation. I’ve presented this model in-depth to our clients through a number of presentations and webcasts but would like to share a little more about the first component, monitoring, with a wider audience.

Monitoring forms the foundation of any B2B social media strategy, and is not only effective for knowing where you should be now; it’s extremely useful to identify where your organization may need to go in the future. It is critical to break down your monitoring strategy into six categories, including:

  • Customers. Leverage monitoring to determine reach and sentiment; track both over time and then correlate changing data to internal (e.g. new product launches or other major announcements) and external (e.g. economic) factors. 
  • Prospects. Discover where and how prospect segments use social media, which is helpful for improving social media marketing efforts. Identify the types of content that prospects prefer to help prioritize your content development efforts. 
  • Influencers. Determine how much impact new influencers are having on buying decisions and how the role they play is different from traditional analysts. Large numbers of followers/fans doesn’t always translate into true influence. 
  • Competitors. Track how established competitors are using social media in their core markets as well as new markets they enter, and put together a watch list of emerging competitors to be tracked as well. 
  • Future Markets. Monitoring trends and issues within industries and target markets that your organization doesn’t currently serve can help yield critical intelligence. 
  • Employees. While the thought of monitoring employees’ online behavior may prompt big brother and privacy concerns, doing so enables companies to feel more comfortable encouraging broad social media participation. 

Whether you leverage a technology vendor or an agency, ensure they can provide you more than just a brand monitoring solution. While share of voice and sentiment trends are useful, B2B organizations need more insight into how social media is used across a long buying cycle.