The surprisingly simple way Samsung snatched Apple’s top spot

broken iphoneWhen I graduated college and entered the work force, “data” was the buzz word of the day. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about how XYZ was going to be “data driven” or how the data driven professional was desired.

Find any large city on the map and you can pinpoint a data driven company. What you will seldom find, however, are companies that successfully use said data to make major improvements.

Samsung, however, is not one of those.

In a new post on Fast Company, details about how Samsung snatched the number one slot from the sleeping giant that was the  Apple iPhone are emerging. The big secret: Samsung mined social media… and actually did something wit the data:

When working with Networked Insights, a big part of Samsung’s strategy was to vacuum up any information on the iPhone 5 that was posted to social media. This meant using the dashboard they licensed to obtain every iPhone-related post on Tumblr, Twitter, Disqus (a popular commenting platform), WordPress, and YouTube, as well as new hits on Google.


THIS is how Samsung fashioned itself into the anti-iPhone:

Importantly, Samsung used the dashboard to find what people were posting online about the iPhone–rather than just looking for posts about Samsung’s own products. They then identified specific complaints about the iPhone where their own products outperformed Apple’s products, and tweaked marketing campaigns to emphasize these Samsung strong points.

Depending on what side of the fence you’re on, there are several takeaways:

Listening pays… and it pays to pay attention
Samsung listened to not only what its users were saying, but also the users of its competition. And it acted on those insights. The results speak for themselves.

Getting to the top is hard, staying on top is harder
It’s not a stretch to think Apple had no idea what people were saying about its iPhone 5. Battery life, headphone and phone quality had long been a complaint of iPhone users. Apple didn’t listen because, as the big dog on the block, it could afford  not to.

Success has a way of clouding the mind of any giant company and the desire of drinking one’s own Kool Aid can be powerful. This lack of listening — and its consequences — can be seen in several other areas, namely places where charter schools have made inroads on public education systems or political parties that find themselves rapidly swept out of office.

Act on what you’re given
Falling from grace is seldom, if EVER, a surprise. There isn’t a company or government entity in America that cannot tell you the weaknesses of its product or service. Knowing the weaknesses is almost the easy part. The heavy lifting comes with changing the paradigm of the way companies interact with consumers and operate — and for communicators this means communicating how our clients are changing those operations and interactions.

At the end of the day, be more like Samsung and less like Apple.

Listen. Learn. Adapt.


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