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Published October 31st 2014

Social Listening: The Key to Standing Out in a Crowd


Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning – Bill Gates

Listening to their audience and understanding how a product fulfills the consumers’ needs can help brands determine which innovations will succeed in a market, and adapt their products/services accordingly.

Before releasing a new product, companies can identify issues and prepare for potential hurdles to commercial success by using social listening.

Equipped with social data and a stronger understanding of how consumers may respond, brands have the opportunity to optimise more efficiently how consumers experience their products.


Used intelligently and analytically, social listening can provide information for brands to rely on, to improve their services and increase customer satisfaction.

A brilliant example of a brand who used social listening to cleverly adapt their messaging is Sony.

Based on previous research that stated that the majority of tablet and eReader consumers are young and male, Sony assumed this would be the core audience for their new Reader product.

As they were keen to look at customer feedback and online chatter, Sony continued to monitor the online conversations around their recently released product.

What did they find out?

Surprisingly, when analysing online buzz, they discovered that a highly mentioned keyword was ‘moms’, and websites like were key hubs for conversations.

Thanks to social listening, they realised they had been focusing on the wrong audience, so they swiftly adapted their messaging and started targeting moms.

As their competitors were still selling to young males, this key insight meant they were taking the lead in the market.

Interestingly, the next Nielsen study proved them correct, when they reported that mothers were a core target market for eReaders and tablets.

At that point, Sony was already one step ahead because they had gone the extra mile and listened to online chatter.


On the other hand, Microsoft’s example shows that ignoring online customer feedback can have a negative impact upon brand reputation.

Launched in 2013, Microsoft’s Xbox One was meant to be the fruit of well over five years of development.

Shortly after the release, buyers started discussing issues relating to the Digital Rights Management, privacy, pricing and the supposed lack of quality games.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.49.29 AM

Months passed until Microsoft announced a reversal in its strategy and by that time, Sony, their key rival, had already taken advantage of the poor perception of the Xbox One.

They marketed and referenced the static actions of Microsoft, which generated a significant reputational advantage for them.

Brands that listen carefully to their markets will learn what the public really wants from their products and use those key insights to stay ahead of the curve.

For more cool insights, feel free to click on the big red button below! It’s free.

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US Election Bulletin: Get weekly polling data, insights & trends

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.