On Mad Men, the ad execs of the 1960s rely on focus groups and psychologists to understand their clients’ customers.  Today, we have Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

Instead of employing tricks and misdirection to learn what people really think about a product or a brand, we’re now empowered to share our opinions with anyone who’ll listen, 24 hours a day.  But this generational shift from privacy to oversharing has created a whole new problem: we now offer too much input, rather than too little.

Thankfully, the web is loaded with tools to help you understand what your customers (and your competition, and complete strangers) are talking about.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of ways to listen to your customers.  And now you can analyze what they say vs. what they really mean, all from the comfort of your laptop.

Of course, what you actually do with all that information is another story entirely — but at least you’ll never be in the dark again about what your customers really think.

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