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Five Great Examples of the Power of Social Listening

Listening to customers is more important than its even been because their feedback is manifestly public where it’s historically been private.” – Jay Bear

Social listening is all about leveraging every possible input gathered from trends and data doing the rounds on the online forum. It is like getting to know everything that people are talking about your brand, product, service, basically whatever you have in the offering. Companies then work around such inputs and make this data work in their favor to better themselves – studies have shown that more than 24% of the global brands prefer to do Social Listening. It requires a considerable amount of identification of the hits and misses and then analyzing those but that is what listening implies.

Here are five examples which show the power of social listening and how brands have leveraged data analysis in their favor:


A majority of the campaigns which Starbucks launches rely on the social media tendencies. However, they also make use of social platforms to involve people in their business generating ideas. One such initiative which has greatly worked for Starbucks is the MyStarbucksIdea, where it solicits ideas, suggestions, opinions, and the likes from customers directly, and then works on these to better their products. For instance, it encourages its patrons to write blogs on their forum. That’s a great way to subtly know what the masses think about a range of topics – from preferred flavors to ideal mug size to increasing reward points. So much so, that since 2008, more than 275 ideas have been worked upon and implemented. Basically, they have used social media listening to actually plan and develop business intelligence.


WalmartLabs generates the retail related insights from the colossal social media data generated online. It studies the discussions and preferences of buyers and concludes what could be the best deals for its own loyalists. For instance, in 2011, WalmartLabs noticed an increased discussion about cake-pop makers on the social media. They suggested this as a buying option for their own customers. They also compile social trends, say such as Twitter feeds, on what could be the next big thing for the benefit of their customers. Naturally, it helps not just in managing its inventory by creating a demand for its products but also makes purchasing a smooth process for its customers.


MasterCard has set up an actual real-time monitoring unit to study and analyze everything that is being talked about them on the social media. Known as the “Conversation Suite”, it compiles all the data and presents it to the concerned departments. The best example of having such a system in place was when MasterCard brought out the MasterPass digital wallet in 2013 at the Mobile World Congress. Its Conversation Suite studied some staggering 85,000 conversations going on around the social networking sites which eventually helped create a strategy for the announcement. The effort seems to have paid off as since then, it is now being accepted by more than 40,000 merchants globally.


Fast food chains are always at a risk of looking to offer unhealthy food. Wendy’s has always projected itself as a cheaper option when it comes to the burger/ sandwich industry. Once it started relying on social listening, the company realized that customers were indeed worried about the nutritional content of its meals, considering the low price. Consequently, Wendy’s came up with an app which shared the nutritional information of all its food. The app also allowed buyers to customize the orders so as to let it fit in their respective dietary requirements (while providing the calorie figures). This way, they earned the faith and a lot many more patrons. In addition, to make people buy and then even talk about inexpensive food stuff, Wendy’s focused on customers who were particularly interested in their brand and were discussing them on social media. They were then asked to come up with interesting titles for the meals, thus bringing in some excitement, and more importantly, credibility to the dollar-meals.


This IT giant uses tools to monitor and correlate social media conversations. In fact, it has a dedicated Social Media Listening Center set up as part of their CRM initiative. Big screens display all the real-time activity/ conversations revolving around their brand name. Five employees representing individual departments, along with a few other subject matter experts, work on the data in a constructive manner for increased sales opportunities. The core idea is using social listening to make data-driven decisions. It has resulted in reduced marketing costs and effective and efficient customer interactions. So much so, that Cisco has managed to achieve a 281% Return on Investment in less than a year, after opting for such a mechanism.

Social listening is one of the most powerful forms of feedback. The insights it offers play a huge role for every section of a company, especially for the marketing research and operations departments, where decision making is an integral aspect. It is almost like the need of the hour to rely on the power of social listening to truly connect and reach out to your audience.

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