Beginner Guide

LinkedIn social listening: How to uncover insights to grow your B2B brand

Too often, LinkedIn is viewed as a place to post job openings and nothing more. However, the platform is an insights goldmine with more than 850 million members. And LinkedIn social listening makes mining those insights easy.

If you’re still putting LinkedIn on the back burner, now’s the time to listen up and boost your strategy. The world’s largest professional network has become a bustling hub for thought leadership, finding talent and researching B2B products to invest in.

There are over 65 million decision-makers registered on LinkedIn. Listening on the platform has the power to help you find these decision makers, or to find new ways to reach them. It’s the best way to surface more insights with org-wide benefits, with less work.

Let’s get into why using social listening on LinkedIn can supercharge your B2B strategy, and how to use social listening tools to your advantage.

What is LinkedIn social listening?

LinkedIn social listening is the process of analyzing the conversations and trends happening around your brand and industry on LinkedIn, and using those insights to make better marketing decisions.

While social media monitoring tells you what people are saying, listening reveals how they feel about your brand, how much engagement posts mentioning your brand rack up, your brand health and more (which we’ll get into). For example, about one-third of our customers’ listening topics are brand health related.

Plus, a social listening strategy empowers you to dig deep into insights that have cross-organization impact, such as:

  • Getting leads for your sales team
  • Tapping into brand health and uncovering influencers for public relations
  • Refining your content strategy
  • Connecting your recruiting and HR teams to new talent
  • Uncovering customer pain points and software bugs for research and development
  • Discovering common questions and issues for customer service

Effective LinkedIn listening requires a tool, like Sprout Social Listening. For example, by creating a LinkedIn listening query for your brand name with Sprout, you uncover posts tagging your brand, and comments on those posts mentioning your brand. This empowers you to uncover more insights, without jumping back and forth between platforms.

A screenshot of crafting a LinkedIn Listening query in Sprout's listening tool.

How LinkedIn social listening unmasks actionable insights

It cannot be overstated: understanding how your LinkedIn audience feels can translate into sales. Think about it: when making B2B purchasing decisions, half of buyers turn to this platform as a go-to resource.

Listening makes you an archaeologist who can chip through the chatter and reach potential buyers by understanding exactly what they’re looking for. Let’s explore six benefits of social listening on LinkedIn for your team, and beyond.

1. Unearth the content your audience wants

With LinkedIn’s most recent algorithm change, relevance is everything. To get your content in front of your audience, knowing what they want is crucial.

LinkedIn social listening is a crystal ball that uncovers topics your audience talks about the most—something that would take days or weeks to uncover and analyze manually.

LinkedIn already has a highly qualified crowd seeking quality content. Here are three key ways you can use listening to craft content and marketing messaging that will resonate with your audience.

Address interests and pain points

Content isn’t just king. It’s a foot in the door with future customers—41% of B2B buyers view three to five pieces of content online before interacting with a salesperson.

Imagine the impact that content can have if it immediately addressed those buyers’ questions and interests.

Create content around your audiences’ interests and pain points to position yourself as a go-to resource who understands them. For example, Elev8 agency uses Sprout’s Social Listening tool to ensure their clients’ audiences feel heard, and they’re developing content that delivers value.

Listen on LinkedIn to find audience pain points and questions in posts you’re tagged in and comments that mention you on those posts. Then, craft content that solves common problems and addresses questions to become a go-to resource. You can even surface these findings to your product and development teams.

A screenshot of a LinkedIn post talking about reminders to add alt text to tweets.

Social listening also uncovers topics, hashtags, keywords, even emojis your audience uses in posts and comments your brand is tagged in. The Word Cloud feature in Sprout’s Listening tools highlights keywords and emojis your audience uses most in the timeframe you set.

The word cloud in Sprout's LinkedIn listening tool that shows the most popular keywords and emojis your audience uses.

And use the Conversation tab to see keywords and hashtags that your audience uses when they talk about you. You can even see the sentiment behind each word or hashtag, and which receive the most engagement in audience posts.

Sprout's LinkedIn Listening tool's conversation tab showing the conversation overview and the level of engagement the top keywords used by your audience receive.

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Share and create high-value thought leadership

Thought leadership is more than just sharable content. It can win you customers—54% of decision-makers say they purchased a product or service from an organization they didn’t previously know about thanks to a piece of thought leadership.

A screenshot of a LinkedIn thought leadership post talking about how Sprout addresses alt text and accessibility best practices.

Social listening on LinkedIn surfaces viral or popular posts you’re tagged in and highlights how many engagements they have. This connects you to content to interact with or share, and earned media to send to your PR team. You can even take this a step further and find thought leaders you can work with to extend your reach.

Sprout's LinkedIn Listening tool's messages tab showing messages on LinkedIn that tag your attached LinkedIn account.

Recent data on how often to post on social media found that the average posting frequency on LinkedIn is no more than once a day. Make that one post count by posting high-value thought leadership that will resonate with your audience.

2. Uncover leads for your sales team and prove your ROI

Sales and social go hand-in-hand. In fact, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn social listening bridges your marketing and sales team. On the sales side, LinkedIn is a goldmine for B2B lead generation. Finding leads organically will help your sales team craft more personalized sales pitches and unearth conversations they should jump into. Sales reps who responded quickly to inquiries on social saw a 9.5% increase in annual revenue.

On the marketing side, using the power of social in lockstep with the sales team’s lead generation strategies only helps you prove your ROI—one of marketers’ top challenges this year, according to The Sprout Social Index™.

Someone who’s already tagging you is beyond the awareness stage of the funnel—help your sales team move them to the next step by connecting them.

3. Mine conversations that you should jump into and join

When you miss a conversation you’re tagged in, you miss an opportunity to grow your audience. In fact, 40% of B2B marketers cite nurturing leads and avoiding missed opportunities as two of their top demand generation priorities this year.

To get the most out of your channels, put the “social” in social media. This means staying on top of and engaging with relevant conversations.

Relying on your native inbox to find important conversations results in posts getting missed in a sea of notifications. Use LinkedIn social listening to pull posts you’re tagged in out of the chatter and into one feed. Then, jump in on industry-related discussion to establish yourself as a subject matter expert and industry leader.

Were you tagged in a post where people are asking about your product vs. competitors? Comment and pitch some highlights.

See an industry question? Jump in before your competitors to offer insights.

Did someone tag you just to say you’re great, like this post we found through LinkedIn listening? Thank them with a comment to show you’re paying attention.

Screenshot of a LinkedIn post listing one professional's favorite tools including Sprout Social

Not every conversation you jump into needs to be positive. If someone is complaining about struggling with your product and tags you, turn a negative into a positive by offering a fix, or just to let people know you’re listening.

4. Understand your competitors, and how people talk about them vs. you

Keeping your eyes on your competitors is always beneficial. Listening to what people say about you and your competitors can uncover opportunities to pull ahead.

Social listening on LinkedIn helps you identify competitors you’re mentioned alongside, and how people feel about you and your competition.

For example, this is a post we found using Sprout’s LinkedIn Listening tool:

Screenshot of a LinkedIn post comparing Sprout Social and Hootsuite

This post presents an opportunity to dig into the comments to see what people are saying, identify pain points your product can fix and can put a spotlight on what people love—and don’t love—about our product and business.

Plus, this is a great opportunity to jump in and show some love before any of our competitors do.

5. Recharge your team by finding new talent

There’s a reason LinkedIn is synonymous with job-seekers and professionals—35.5 million people were hired by someone they connected with on the platform.

With 62% of marketers looking to hire between two and six positions in the next two years, the search is on. And yet, our data further shows one of marketers top struggles this year is finding experienced talent.

Listening on LinkedIn already surfaces posts and comments your brand is tagged in. Who’s behind those posts? Are they qualified mega-fans open to recruitment? Thought leaders who can star in a webinar?

And look at the comments, too. If one of your employees posts about an open role at your company and tags your LinkedIn page, looking at the comments on that post can help you source talent.

LinkedIn post from a Sprout employee talking about an open role on their team.

Connecting with prospective talent on LinkedIn can expand your talent pool, and can even lead to higher retention—employees found through LinkedIn were reportedly 40% less likely to leave the company in their first six months.

6. Measure brand health and curb crises

Answering “how do people feel about our brand?” is where social listening is more than just helpful—it’s a must.

LinkedIn listening takes you beyond what people say about you to uncover how they feel about you based on the posts and comments that tag you.

A tool like Sprout analyzes posts mentioning your brand on LinkedIn to give you a good sense of whether that conversation is positive or negative and if it’s changed at all. As a key B2B space, LinkedIn is an especially important place to gauge the sentiment behind what they say about your business.

Sprout Social's LinkedIn Listening tool's sentiment meter that shows if the overall conversation around your brand on LinkedIn is more positive, negative or neutral

While sentiment is nuanced, seeing a spike in negative chatter can signal a problem bubbling up. Use social listening to get a baseline of how people feel about your brand day-to-day, and to make it easier to catch a change in tone. For example—using social listening, Purdue University’s social team has alerts set up to measure spikes in specific topics. They’re the first to know when a topic gains traction—good or bad.

Being proactive in a digital crisis gives you the power to turn the tide and get ahead of the situation.

Use social listening on LinkedIn to dig into insights, enhance your strategy and build your business

You don’t need to be psychic to understand your audience’s pain points. Social media is like an always-on focus group—to tap into it, all you need to do is listen.

LinkedIn already has a high-quality audience of professionals. Tapping into what they say when they tag your brand can help you better understand your brand health, audience and build a stronger business across teams.

To get your LinkedIn listening strategy started, check out our social listening guide template.

The post LinkedIn social listening: How to uncover insights to grow your B2B brand appeared first on Sprout Social.

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