A man holding up a magnifying glass over one of his eyes - Monitoring trends concept
PHOTO: Unsplash/Tatiana Pavlova

For brands that want to improve their current offerings, get or stay ahead of the competition, and predict their customers’ wants, it’s necessary to be monitoring trends in the market. For many marketers, social listening offers the perfect avenue for finding out more about what’s trending in their industry and what’s popular among their customers.  

According to eMarketer, roughly 50% of marketers turned to social listening platforms to get information about their customers during the pandemic. But while some channels like TikTok and Facebook have proven to be goldmines for B2C companies, those channels aren’t necessarily as fruitful for marketers in the B2B space. To learn more about where B2B marketers can monitor trends, we turned to community and marketing experts. 

Social Listening: Why and Where You Should Look

Before diving into where to monitor B2B topics, we should first explore why you need to monitor these topics in the first place. Today’s customer preferences change faster than ever, and brands that are unaware of how their customers are feeling or potentially new disruptions within their industry risk falling behind the competition. 

Knowing this information enables businesses to make calculated decisions about what to do next. Still, if you want to see how the best and brightest within your industry are moving forward, pivoting in the face of danger or the types of problems they might be having, then you need to know where to look. 

“Social media sites and podcasts have created the ultimate venue for joining the conversation,” says Dave Duke, co-founder, and chief community officer of Indianapolis, IN-based MetaCX. While waiting for annual conferences or other networking events was once the only time you could essentially “get in the same room” as the CMO from a company you admired, social media has closed the gap.  It provides “access to the greatest minds in business and can handpick the people and topics that we want to track to identify today’s latest business trends emerging from the C-suite,” Duke added.

Yet, that doesn’t necessarily narrow down our search. For that you should, “visit sites like LinkedIn, especially LinkedIn Groups,” adds Maya Levi, marketing manager at Tel-Aviv, Israel-based ReturnGO. LinkedIn provides an opportunity where many C-Suite executives are happy to connect, converse, and provide insights into the industry’s popular topic. 

But social media isn’t the only place you can monitor trends. “I follow current business and world trends via the WSJ, The Economist, NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors) blogs, articles, plus World Economic Forum content and research,” says Katrina Klier, CMO at Houston-TX-based PROS. Such industry-related blogs and research firms can provide lots of valuable information about the most relevant topics affecting your industry. 

Related Article: What Can Social Listening Do to Improve CX?

Getting Value From Your Social Listening

Monitoring the latest trends is one thing, but how do you ensure you maximize the value from what you’re reading or learning?

Get Social on Social Media: Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are especially popular in the B2B space and help you find insights about what other companies are doing and how C-suite members feel about the latest developments. But you shouldn’t simply read and monitor, interaction is key here. “From there, building a network of peers within the space will provide the support you need to test ideas and share knowledge in real-time,” Klier points out. 

With the caveat of not being too promotional when contributing to discussions, “B2B marketers should participate and contribute to conversations in a way that they’ll be adding value to everyone involved,” adds Levi. By choosing the most suitable topics to get involved in, you can ask questions to show your interest or add your own spin on things to engage in a healthy discussion about a topic you feel strongly about. 

Subscribe to Newsletters: Don’t limit yourself to just social media conversations or reading articles; you can also subscribe to newsletters and reports to uncover hidden gems that aren’t necessarily shared across all platforms. “Following news outlets and reports either via online subscriptions, social media, or newsletters rounds out details on topics and will help ensure you have a full and balanced point of view on given trends,” explains Klier. 

Nowadays, newsletters are almost like the editorial column of the most popular magazine in your industry. Many of these outlets feature their own newsletters, but it’s not uncommon for C-Suite members to have their own personal email lists where they share their insights and happily engage with subscribers. 

Dig Deeper Using Podcasts: Another option is to move the conversation and trend monitoring from written to audio and dig deeper into it by listening to a podcast. As Duke explains, after discovering something on social media, you should look for a podcast to find someone discussing those trends in more detail. “You can find detailed trend explanations, forward-thinking insights, and productive debates that can help you stay on top of the latest and greatest industry developments,” he concluded. 

Social Listening Apps: You should employ these apps to help stay abreast of trends and influencers in your industry. In platforms like Buzzsumo and SproutSocial you can search by topic making it easy to find who to follow, topics of interest and what's resonating with your audience.