If a Tree Falls on Twitter, Corporations Will Hear It

Every picture you take, every post you make, companies are watching you.

Sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence are being deployed to aggregate and make sense of trends in consumer behavior and preferences, and this information is now being used in product development.

In late 2014 bitter intellectual property litigation involving Apple and Samsung came to an close. Among the many documents released during this trial included internal messages about how Samsung was pioneering a new approach to gathering customer research.

Fast Company reviewed these documents and reported that Samsung had developed new, innovative ways to segment customers and gather feedback — just by listening to social media chatter:

Using aggregated online posts and machine learning techniques, Samsung found several specific weak spots where they could outperform Apple. Customers specifically complained about the iPhone’s comparatively poor battery life, the inefficiencies of Apple Maps, how small the screen was, unhappiness with the Lightning cable, the lack of customization, Siri, and the iPhone’s fragility. Samsung felt that it could compete with Apple on most of these points — and, importantly, that they hard data to back up these consumer preferences.

This is one of the most interesting and innovative ways social media has been used to accomplish a business objective — in this case, designing a better product, and one which addressed the pain points associated with a competing device in the market.

Does this mean the traditional “focus group” platform for customer research is dead? Perhaps not yet, but it will need to incorporate aspects of data analytics and audience targeting to maintain relevance.

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