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Social Listening: How Microsoft used it to dodge the Xbox One bullet

Social Listening is WAY more important than social talking.
The power of social listening is probably one of the most underrated aspects of social media today. Brands don’t seem to grasp the huge advantage that exists in having an open, 2-way line of communication with their fans – the very people who buy their products. Social Media allows feedback to be given and addressed in real time, that in some cases allows an issue to be resolved before it can irreversibly detriment a brand.

Microsoft, Xbox One and Social Listening

Today we saw a great example of social listening by Microsoft in regard to the Xbox One. Last week, Microsoft announced that their new console would require a constant Internet connection to operate properly, and would limit the ability of gamers to share games with one another, an integral aspect of the gaming community. There was an uproar in the gaming community, who loudly proclaimed their dissatisfaction with Microsoft’s new product through their social networks. Today, Microsoft announced that they will be changing the online requirements and sharing limitations of their new console, to accommodate for the needs of their fanbase. “You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you,” Don Mattrick of Microsoft wrote. Microsoft listened to their fans, realised that their new product would not be received favourably, and changed their product before their brand was damaged (any more than it was by the announcement, at least). I have a pretty wild conspiracy theory that Microsoft never intended to release this initial version of the Xbox One and knew exactly how effective social listening was in re-activating a fan base and planned this whole scenario.

Maker’s Mark and Social Listening

Earlier in the year, we saw Maker’s Mark  demonstrate the power of social listening. They had just announced that they had to reduce the alcohol content of their product to cut costs – as you can imagine, their fanbase exploded with negative sentiment. Maker’s Mark listened to this real-time feedback and decided that it would cost them more money in lost fans to continue with the alcohol cut than it would to continue as is. They then communicated “You spoke, we listened” through their social media channels and re-activated a fan base and gaining a huge amount of media attention.


What can turn a fan into a brand advocate? The mind-set that they directly influence the brand’s product, that’s what. Now I’m not suggesting you go out of your way to try and spark an uproar. What I’m saying is, it’s important to listen to what your fans are saying on social media as it can allow you to address issues that you may not have known existed and in some cases, allow you to fix a problem and end up in a better position than you were before the issue.


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