PRCA 3030: Groundswell Chapters 4-9

February 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm Leave a comment

Groundswell Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by: Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

Chapters 4-9

Chapter 4. Strategies for Tapping the Groundswell- Chapter 4 talks about how companies are realizing that they need to start getting involved in social media (creating Facebook accounts, Twitter, blogs, etc.) but they aren’t sure why.

Li and Bernoff created a 4 pronged approach for creating a groundswell strategy for companies called POST.  “POST is the foundation of groundswell thinking…”

  1. People. What are your customers ready for?
  2. Objectives. What are your goals? Are you wanting to talk within the groundswell for marketing or generating more sales? Or for tapping into the groundswell to help employees work together more efficiently?
  3. Strategy. How do you want relationships with your customers to change?
  4. Technology. What applications should you build? After having decided on the people, objectives, and strategy. (Ex: blogs, wikis, social networks)

According to Chapter 4, there are 5 primary objectives that companies successfully pursue in the groundswell:

  1. Listening: best suited for companies that are seeking customer insights for use in marketing and development
  2. Talking: best suited if you’re (the company) ready to extend your current digital marketing initiatives to a more interactive channel
  3. Engergizing: works best for companies that know that they have brand enthusiasts to energize
  4. Supporting: effective for companies with significant support costs and customers who have a natural affinity for each other
  5. Embracing: most challenging of the 5, and it’s best suited to companies that have already succeeded with one of the other 4 goals.

Chapter 5. Listening to the Groundswell-

One of the most important things that companies need to realize is that “your brand is whatever your customers say it is”; meaning that your consumers are out there blogging, “yelping”, tweeting, and facebooking about your product.  You do not define what your product is because the reviews that your customers are writing define the product.

Li and Bernoff tell us that the best way to gain insight into what your consumers are saying is to work with vendors who provide professional tools by setting up your own private community or by brand monitoring.

Chapter 6. Talking with the Groundswell –

According to Li and Bernoff, there are four ways to “talk” within the groundswell.  They are:

  1. Post a viral video.
  2. Engage in social networks and user-generated content sites.
  3. Join the blogosphere.
  4. Create a community.

Chapter 7. Energizing the Groundswell –

According to Groundswell, energizing the groundswell means “tapping into the power of word of mouth by connecting with, and turning on, your most committed customers…”  By “energizing” your customers and getting them excited about your products (by listening to their feedback, and improving upon your products), they will keep talking about those products for years.  And according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) word of mouth “is the most honest form of marketing, building upon people’s natural desier to share their experiences with family, friends, and colleagues.”

Based on Li and Bernoff’s interviews with companies who succeeded in energizing the groundswell, they found 3 unique techniques that work when “connecting” with brand enthusiasts:

  1. Tap into customer’s enthusiasm with ratings and reviews.
  2. Create a community to energize your customers.
  3. Participate in and energize online communities of your brand.

Chapter 8. Helping the Groundswell Support Itself –

Helping your customers support themselves will make them happier, save money, and generate insights.  But it will require a great deal of effort for the company.  Li and Bernoff outline 3 questions you should ask before you start:

  1. What problem is your support activity trying to solve? – Why will people participate?
  2. Groundswell support needs your participation – Support communities need activity – few will go to a forum that’s not buzzing with activity.  Activity creates content, which creates traffic and links, which boosts search engine placement, which drives more traffic, and so on.
  3. Why build it if you can join it? – You should check whether there is an existing community for your customers.

Chapter 9. Embracing the Groundswell

When you embrace the groundswell, you can move more quickly.  There are two reasons for this.  First being that consumers do not hesitate to tell you what they want.  They are the ones using your product and are interacting with your company.  They know what the problem is and what can be done to fix it.  They often have ideas that people in your company have not thought of yet.  Whenever your company is ready, they can tap into this resource of “innovation”.  According to Li and Bernoff, people who have connected with customers are always amazed at how much more quickly they generate ideas.

The second reason is that once customers are “in the loop”, innovation happens more quickly because you can “iterate” – make continuous improvements.  Once you begin receiving feedback from consumers, you process it quickly, and can go back and ask the next question.

The key factor to remember is to show feedback online.  This way, your customers see that you look responsive, and then you can continue the discussion.

According to Bernoff and Li, the thing to remember is that embracing your customers takes a balance between skill and humility.


Entry filed under: Reading Notes- PRCA 3030, Social Media and PRCA 3030- Section C.

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