6 Steps Build Your B2B Social Media Listening Plan

by Gerry Moran


Turn your social listening strategy from 50 shades of gray into 6 clear steps to generate solid results

Social media listening is the new “black” when it comes to B2B strategy. I have found there are fifty shades of grey when it comes to actually understanding and implementing a social media listening program. A social  listening plan is like a supply chain, where every link is a key part of the structure to achieve success.

Developing a solid end-to-end listening plan is important for your B2B social media marketing strategy to help confirm the buzz and help you focus on key priorities in real-time!

6  Key Things To Consider For Your Social Media Listening Program

1. Define your social media listening program goals. Your goals will vary based on your needs from your various marketing stakeholders that can include:

  • Find trends for blogging by internal and external influencers
  • Find sales triggers with customers and prospects to use by your sales team to make relevant sales calls
  • Find customer pain points to address with marketing campaigns and webinar promotional messaging
  • Find trends to be addressed by solution marketing stakeholders in whitepapers and infographics
  • Find the buzz that can be leveraged by your social media channel managers in their tweets, posts and messaging

2. Develop your use cases for your social media listening plan. It is critical to show clear use cases for your social media listening program. Start with 3-5 cases that tightly align with your goals. I like to think of  listening use cases as plays from a playbook. You need to ask yourself, “now that I have listened, how am I going to activate my next steps to help me reach my goals?” Key considerations for your use cases are:

  • Do they align to the business goals?
  • Are there resources to execute against the use cases?
  • Are the use cases valued by the end-user/stakeholder?

3. Identify the key words to fuel your social listening program. Identifying the key words is a job for your marketing strategist, analyst, SEO/SEM specialist and/or industry principal! A rigorous approach to defining the industry, solution, etc. keywords that align the business goal is key to generating usable and doable insight. Think of the term “garbage in, garbage out”. Securing these words should be lead by a strategist or analyst who is very specific with the keyword ask; i.e., defining the context of what is being done with the listening.

4. Secure your social media listening tool. There are many free and many better fee- and licensed based tools like NetBase. If you do not have a tool in your social media tool kit, your agency partner likely does!

5. Define the output format for the raw social media listening data. Work with your analyst and listening provider to create the raw-data delivery format. By defining a report format that aligns with the use cases, it will be easier to do the analysis. While this step is not critical, it will help with the delivery speed of the report, especially if there are multiple supporting analysts.

6. Align your social listening analyst to give a report that aligns with the use cases and is easy to read! Since listening reports have “legs” in a B2B environment, there is much pass-along of these documents. If you sold in a listening program based on goals and use cases, make sure each analyst report aligns specifically to the use case!

You may also find these blog posts interesting:

What experience have you found that works with developing your listening program? Please share with us below? Or, if you have a direct question please contact me on MarketingThink.com or @GerryMoran on Twitter.

Don’t feel bound or forced into your current approach to listening program. I beg you to reconsider your approach and move from fifty shades of grey to six solid ideas to develop a useful social media listening program.

– Gerry Moran.


Gerry Moran is a social media and content marketing strategist who's worked for large global brands and digital agencies. He's spent significant time in hands-on marketing leadership roles with HBO, IKEA, Ralston Purina, Kodak, and numerous digital agencies. He spent his last ten years working at SAP and Cognizant, where he built their content marketing operating models, developed social media training programs, and helped thousands with their LinkedIn makeovers and personal branding strategies.