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Why “ABM Social listening” might just be the answer to one of the year’s biggest marketing challenges.

Dan Sands

December 04, 2020

Along with many other elements of our lives, 2020 has seen a pretty seismic shift in enterprise B2B sales and marketing.  The “offline”, face-to-face meetings that form strong business relationships have had to be mothballed in favour of video calls, email and automation.

This need to go “digital” has further demonstrated that intelligently executed data driven marketing programs can be key to a genuinely more relevant experience for customers and prospects and can make a material contribution to revenue growth for business. But, in the relationship-led world of enterprise sales, this approach alone has three key limitations:

  1. Data driven account personalization and digital programs are fast becoming table stakes, making it hard to break through the noise without finding a differentiator. 
  2. Pure digital marketing has a tendency to be inward looking “we have this and we need to push it to people”, and to only ask binary questions, for example, did the audience download more of  “X or Y” when really they want Z.
  3. Digital programs do little to promote, or build, the personal relationships that are key to big deals.

Fortunately, another key trend of 2020 can help us address all of these challenges. The growth of business social media – 22% for Linkedin YoY in Q1 and Twitter 29% YoY in Q3 – are two stats that jump out. This is, at least in part, a response to our inability to meet in person, but the fact that they are at opposite ends of this year points to sustained change.  More business people are on social platforms talking about their interests, wants and needs. Our own measurement in October and December showed some of the highest levels of social content creation we have ever observed.  

This momentum presents a huge opportunity. With the right monitoring approach you can capture insight, spot key influencers, identify sentiment trends and build understanding to allow you to create high value, virtual relationships with your customers and prospects. 

Aggregating your findings will allow you to expand, and even challenge, your understanding of customers and prospects and their needs. Using this data you can inform content and campaigns that will truly interest your customers. 

So how do you go about social listening for Account Based Marketing?

Making a start…

You can make a start just by paying a bit more attention to your customers and prospects on the platforms where they are posting – likely Twitter and Linkedin. Take a look at what they are sharing, and talking about:  what can you learn about their needs and interests? Are there opportunities to connect and share? 

Collating these learnings will allow you to inform your planning, spot themes or topics that will engage your audience in a new way, give you ideas for new ways to present your proposition, or simply give you a reason to make a new contact within a key account. 

From ad-hoc to high value

Casual, ad-hoc social listening can bring some benefits, but if you really want to maximize the value, you need a social listening program that is more focused and organized. So how do you make the leap from using social to learn about your customer and prospect to making it a key component of your insight strategy?

Here are a few tips….

  1. Be goal and application focused – Start any listening program by clarifying your goals: what do you need to find out and how will you use the insight?  For example: “I want to produce a content series that will be relevant to key customers” or “I want to see which execs at company Y would most likely be open to an approach around service X” 
  2. Frame your listening and refine your listening landscape  Be focused and define your brief.  You can’t listen to everything, so define a criteria, likely a list of specific accounts, execs and themes. If you’re looking at topics, make sure there isn’t too much volume/noise;  if it’s exec conversations your interested in, make sure those execs are relevant and active on social
  3. Codify what you find – if you are working with more than a few topics or people, verbatim feedback will quickly become overwhelming.  Work out a way to classify topics, sentiment and other key indicators
  4. Make sure you have the right tools and resources – that doesn’t mean getting a subscription to every social tool going, but rather accepting that resource will be needed and making sure you have identified and allocated it before you start. 
  5. Refresh and renew – Like every other conversation, those on social media move on.  Refreshing your listening will give you new connection opportunities and new insights into your customers, so make sure you update it regularly.

And don’t forget to activate! With all the new insight and opportunity you will likely uncover, be sure to put it into action – make that connection, develop that content and then measure the impact against your previous approach.. 

Next steps….  

If you have research analyst resources in your organization with capacity, connect them to a consultant with ABM insight experience and you will be able to build a data collection and analysis solution to add real value to your ABM programs.  Just follow the steps above. 

For a shortcut,  talk to us about our ABM Social Listening solutions. With experienced consultants to help frame your listening objectives and a team of data researchers and analysts who can capture, collate and codify social content, you can quickly develop insights that will inform and maximize your ABM and even wider marketing campaigns. 


In Q1 of 2020, LinkedIn sessions increased 22 percent year-over-year. (LinkedIn)

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