The Key to Effective Listening is to Act.

Throughout the first few chapters of the textbook of groundswell, specifically chapter 3: the social technographics profile, the authors highlight the importance of not only having business goals in place, but also having effective measurements to track those goals. So with the assumption that the company or organization has successfully been able to accomplish this, the authors then move forward to the next aspect of conquering the groundswell.

In chapter 5: listening to the groundswell, as the title suggests, the focus shifts to the importance of listening. Essentially, in order to act upon feedback given from the groundswell, one must listen first. However, simply listening will not be an effective way of progressing if one does not act on what has been heard. “To profit from listening, you need a plan to act on what you learn.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 82). Often companies get so consumed with trying to stay ahead of their competitors that they forget that it is not the competitors that they need to beat, it is the customers that they need to win over. Essentially one can argue that these two feats go hand-in-hand; if you beat the competitors you win the customers. Though this may be true the key part of this is where the focus is for the company. For example, when it comes to beating a competitor the focus is simply to outperform them. To do what they do, but to do it better. However when the attention shifts from beating the competitors to instead winning over the customers the focus finally becomes about the single biggest factor in business: the customers. There is so much that a company can learn from their customers, they simply just have to be willing to first listen and then act on it. There are two case studies provided in the text which help to illustrate how a company can greatly profit from implementing an effective listening strategy. I am going to focus on the national comprehensive cancer network case study and look at how they developed their listening strategy. Ellen Sonet, VP of marketing for New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has found that the best way to reach her customers is to think as a customer. She realizes that she cannot give her customers what they want if she does not know what they are looking for. Ellen quickly realized that as a marketer in the hospital world there was only so much that she could observe from her customers and what they were looking for. The turning point for Ellen occurred at a marketing event where she met Diane Hessan, the CEO of Communispace and quickly realized their potential for a partnership. (Li & Bernoff, 2011) The service that Communispace provides can be described as the recruitment of a few hundred people in the client’s target market to create a unique type of online social network community best described as a research network. The group essentially forms an exclusive network that provides insight for the client generated from the members and the moderators from the Communispace. (Li & Bernoff, 2011) By being able to receive input directly from the target market regarding various aspects of the company such as strengths and weaknesses it provides the company with the ability to see the company through the eyes of the customer. All and all, the biggest take away that this case study has provided us with is the importance of not simply being one step ahead of the competition but by being one step closer to the customers.

By being able to take this understanding and bringing it to the forefront of my organization I would be able to lead the way in the marketing aspect of not only attracting more customers but retaining them as well. As the text highlights, seeking an effective listening strategy through the means of a private community can be costly however it is important to realize there are other ways to attain an effective strategy when resources are limited. There are four effective suggestions that the authors provide that I can incorporate into my own work industry to help me be more successful in listening to the groundswell and they are: 1) Check the Social Technographics Profile of your customers; 2) Start small, think big; 3) Make sure your listening vendor has dedicated an experienced team to your effort 4) Choose a senior person to interpret the information and integrate it with other sources. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 95-96). In other words, do not let all the effort go to waste. ACT ON IT! Being able to bring this mindset to my organization would be valuable not only for us but for our customers as well.

 

References
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press .

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Groundswell: The Social Technographics Profile

After studying business for the past four years I would have to count on my fingers and toes a few times over, in order to track all of the new terms I have been introduced to throughout various courses. Of course, with an emphasis in the finance side of business much of these terms relate to investments; I now know what the terms contango and backwardation mean when referring to graphs, although I will have to admit it did take some time. However, when I enrolled in the Social Media Marketing course I did not anticipate this problem. I felt that the terminology would be straightforward and much of it I would already have been exposed to due to the fact that I am a member of Gen Y and technology has been a big part of my life in all that I do. That was until I went and bought the textbook for the MARK4474: “Groundswell”. Well I have to admit I had never heard that term before. I opened the book and skimmed through the first few pages. The term groundswell appeared several times on each page, and my understanding for the word did not become any less unfamiliar. That was until I came across the definition. “The groundswell is: a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 9). I quickly realize that I did know what groundswell was, and that I had been a long time participant of it. This actually symbolized the term perfectly. If you can understand what groundswell is and then understand how it works you surely can see the advantages it has to offer.

Chapter 3: The Social Technographics Profile, focuses not only on understanding the groundswell, but actually going beyond that to get a deeper understanding for the participation in groundswell. “To truly understand the groundswell, you need to dissect and quantify the dynamics that separate different participants. Why? Because a strategy that treats everyone alike will spell failure-people aren’t alike and won’t respond in the same way (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 40) Realizing that groundswell is not simply something that can be replicated from company to company is a huge aspect that one must understand in order to be successful with groundswell. It is not a simple task and it is not to be one either. However, companies which can properly understand and utilize the groundswell is what sets them above their competitors.

Now that we know the importance of understanding groundswell, chapter 3 looks at how we can understand groundswell. This is where the term “Social Technographics Profile” comes into play. The Social Technographics Profile is a way that people can be grouped based on the groundswell activities in which they participate (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Doing so, allows a company to not only see who makes up their target market but also what groups of the Social Technographics ladder are present. Below is the six different groups of groundswell that makes up the ladder as explained in the textbook:

ladder1
(The Social Technographics ladder)

Understanding that the level of participation among active members will vary in terms of what steps of the ladder they are grouped with makes for a diverse groundswell. Within the organization I plan to work with after graduation, which is Student Financial Assistance, there is still a lot to be learnt about groundswell. Gathering this type of information from users would be crucial in order to determine what needs to happen next. Without this type of understanding, the organization would be basically taking a shot of the dark and hoping for the best. So how can Student Financial Assistance make the most out of Social Technographics? Well luckily, due to the fact that the organization is only directly involved with Canadian residents and more specifically Northwest Territories residents, the need to focus on the global power of social technographics profiles is eliminated. This makes for a much more concentrated market for our organization to focus in on. First, we must come up with a goal for our organization. We have determined that our goal is to maximize the amount of participants we can reach using the appropriate applications to do so. Using the Social Technographics Profile allows us to determine what the appropriate applications to utilize are. However, once we have successfully achieved this, this does not mean our job is done. As an organization we will need to be frequently measuring this success and the always changing world of the groundswell.

What the textbook has taught me up until this point is that putting in the effort to understand how to use this information to your advantage is very much worthwhile. However, you must buy-in and you must be willing to dive into these forces in order to get them to work for you. “The biggest challenge in the groundswell isn’t whether you master the technology…It’s whether you’re accomplishing a useful business goal and, on top of that, how you’ll measure that success and then prove that the groundswell effort was worth it.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 62)

 

References:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social   technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

The Social Technographics ladder. (n.d.). Forrester Research, Inc.

 

 

Breaking Down Social Media

At the age of 23 it is becoming more and more difficult to remember how the world looked before the era of social media erupted. At a simple click of a mouse we have endless information at our disposal through the never-ending Social Media applications that continue to evolve. This is attractive to users because this information is readily available to viewers at virtually no cost. Of course with every opportunity that Social Media creates is followed with a challenge as well. The journal article “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media” helps to identify what the term Social Media means in order to make the various applications within the Social Media world easier to understand. To put it simply, the term Social Media is defined as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Of course, this is the fancy terminology that the authors of this article feel sums up the term the best. However, simply breaking down the two words that make up the term identify the two biggest factors: The social aspect and the media side. Although the wording suggests that the social part comes first we know this is not the case. Without the right application within the media it does not matter how well we do at addressing the social aspect, we will not be successful. That being said I will be addressing the five points about using media that the article identifies first:

1) Choose carefully
2) Pick the application, or make your own
3) Ensure activity alignment
4) Media plan integration
5) Access for all (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, pp. 65-66)

The list provides a step by step process which is crucial when a company decides to delve into the Social Media world. In terms of marketing, every company would like to maximize their presence. However, joining every Social Media application is not the correct way to do so. Not only would this require large amounts man hours to actively participate in every application but it would quickly prove to be ineffective. As the saying goes, quality over quantity. The importance is in finding what application(s) would be most effective for reaching your target market; after all these are the people you are trying to reach out too. “Each company must adopt the tactics that are right for its customers and its way of doing business and adapt as the technologies change. Copying others doesn’t work because your company, your customers, and your goals are not the same as anybody else’s” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 75). Although this will undoubtingly require research, doing so will prove to be worthwhile. This step ultimately forms the foundation for the remaining four building blocks surrounding the media component, each adding further value for the company.
As I had previously mentioned the next five points that the article introduces directly relate to the social aspect of the media. Although as I mentioned, that it doesn’t matter how well a company does with this aspect if the media application is not selected properly, that does not make these five factors listed below any less significant. They are as followed:

1) Be active
2) Be honest
3) Be humble
4) Be unprofessional
5) Be honest (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, pp. 66-67)

Simply just being present on Social Media applications is not enough to provide positive results. Each of these five factors is instrumental in the success of a company’s participation within the Social Media world. Companies have realized the endless opportunities that are available through Social Media to market not only themselves but their services and products as well. Relating these five key points about being social to any company is very important. Simply participating within the appropriate Social Media application will not be enough to win over your target market. Although the opportunities that are available through Social Media seem to be countless, companies must be willing to accept the challenges that go hand in hand with them. As the article points out, one of the biggest problems that businesses face is the fact that they have increasingly less and less control over the information available about them in cyberspace (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). This is where the five points come into play within the social component. Your target audience does not want to feel like they are talking to robots. Show them emotion, show them that you are human as well, your company is going to make mistakes but that you will learn from them and become stronger.

A very good example of failing to incorporate the five points of being social occurred recently during the Fort McMurray involving a well known airline. As we know, the mandatory evacuation of over 80,000 residents forced to flee on a moment’s notice caused a state of emergency for the city of Fort McMurray. Luckily so many Canadians, including thousands of individuals and companies such as WestJet, offered much needed support. However, on the other hand there was one airline in particular which received a lot of backlash over an “accidental” price surge that occurred to fleeing Fort McMurray residents who happened to be flying with the Air Canada airline. “In a statement posted on their website, Air Canada refuted accusations that they hiked airfares as thousands of residents fled Fort McMurray due to raging wildfires. They did say however, that premium fares were a result of Air Canada’s computerized fare system” (Coorsh, 2016). Air Canada, who arguably already has a very poor reputation among Canadians continued to do damage control over the incident on Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately the company chose to address angered customers comments by replying with a generic response to each and every post which had no sense of empathy or emotion connected with it. Air Canada failed to meet four of the five social points and led to massive amounts of damage to the company’s image. Air Canada did not remain active by responding to each and every negative comment made on the company’s Twitter or Facebook feed, however by not following through with the other four points the company suffered drastically. Air Canada failed to take any accountability for the price surge that occurred and this was quickly noted by angered customers who vowed to never fly with the airline again. It is very evident that Air Canada took a huge hit to their reputation but the true test of the company’s character will lie within their ability to learn from this event and adapting the five points of being social would be a good start.

 

References
Coorsh, K. (2016, May 6). Air Canada addresses accusations of price-gouging during Fort McMurray evacuation . Canada.

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53, 59-68.

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press .