Expose the Groundswell Inside of Your Company

In short, throughout the textbook Groundswell, we have looked at what exactly the groundswell is, how to join the groundswell, why you should join the groundswell and how to be successful in the groundswell. To bring this semester to a close we are now looking at the groundswell within a company. Of course most of this discussion focused solely on our how we interact with our company’s current and potential customers. Up until this point a huge component has been missing. That component that I am referring to is a company’s employees. Companies strive to hire employees who care about their success as much as the top CEO does and that is why if the common goal among all employees is not the company’s success you have some major adjustments to make. However that being said, if an employee’s goal isn’t the company overall success that doesn’t mean that they want them to fail, it just simply means that they just see work as a nothing more than a paycheck. If this is the case for your company, it is time to act now.

Most often than not, the problem isn’t caused by a lack of effort by management but rather a lack of communication with employees. The textbook highlights the example of Blue Shirt Nation that Best Buy has implemented as a way to allow for communication among all Best Buy employees. It has proven to be a very effective way to not only empower employees within the company but also as a way to provide front line insight to the top management. What makes Blue Shirt Nation so effective is its ability to accomplish all five objectives of listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing. “That’s the power and speed of the groundswell within companies–the ability for people to find what they need from each other.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 237) By enabling your employees and letting them know “hey we are here and we are listening to you”, it helps to motivate the employees to want success as much as you do. They want to know what they are doing every day makes a difference within the company and that’s what setting up an open communication where employees can talk and be heard does.

Another great example of empowering employees is what CEO of Razorfish was able to do by realizing the potential in direct communication with employees. Razorfish uses an internal intranet site to connect all of their employees together which gives them a space to not only stay connected with one another but to also share their ideas and skills openly. “The key here is that in creating a collaboration tool, the company had also created a communication channel.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 240) CEO Clark Kokich there is a lot to be gained by this type of communication and he is aware of the easy approach it creates of staying up-to-date within the company’s day to day operations.

There is a lot that to be learnt by these two great companies but ultimately these opportunities were created by taking a chance and seeing the potential within it rather than focusing on what could go wrong. What stood out to me was the fact that neither company was focused on the monetary value behind implementing a strategy for communication because they knew that the cost would be worth the reward. One thing is for certain, they were right.

References

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

 

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Tweets Are Being Heard Within The Groundswell

Since the enormous  splash that social media has created within our society in the last five to ten years one thing is certain: if people are not satisfied they will no longer go unheard. With countless of social media outlets to let your voice be heard such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, etc. it is no wonder why companies such as AT&T have twenty one staff members working 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day covering both the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 206) Companies such as AT&T have realized the endless opportunities that are available to them by getting involved within the groundswell. Of course as with any strategy taken within the groundswell, the company must be able to identify what goals they want to achieve before they jump into the deep end so to speak. As mentioned in Chapter 10: tapping the groundswell with twitter of the textbook groundswell, @McDonalds  is a great example of a company that has figured out what platforms such as Twitter can offer their company and they have paved the way to success by utilizing all that Twitter has to offer. McDonalds can play both ends of the game. Not only do they play great defense by being proactive while dealing with challenging situations such as in the case of the Shrek souvenir glasses recall when McDonalds was able to point their 75,000 followers to the right place for information which helped to mitigate the risk of a potential tarnished reputation and deal with the matter in a professional way. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 197) However, it is their offensive strategy which makes them the company they are in the Twitter world. By utilizing their twitter handle to tweet about promotions they have found a way to keep their followers Lovin’ It.

Of course at this point we know how important the five groundswell objectives are within the groundswell but as Li & Bernoff point out to us in this chapter those five groundswell objectives can be applied while engaging with the Twitter world. First off the company must be listening to what Twitter has to say to them. As I mentioned previously customers are no longer silenced. When they are unhappy with you, you will hear about it; so listen to what they have to say, you can learn from it. Secondly you must talk to twitter. What good is listening if you do not intend on speaking out? Share what others will want to share, this will ensure that you are heard. Thirdly you must energize with twitter. This is where you ensure that all of your effort is being maximized. Make sure you are reaching out to the people that you want to reach out to otherwise it is simply just wasted energy. Next you must be supporting with twitter. This means that you are willing to act on what you have heard. If customers are having problems with your products or service make sure that you are there to support them or they will no longer be there. And lastly, your company must embrace twitter. (Li & Bernoff, 2011) Maximize your efforts by doing all that you can do, leave no stone unturned because this is what will set you apart from your competitors.

Now that you have finished reading about the hype of twitter, check it out for yourself! You can find me at @arcticfinancing

Happy Tweeting! 🙂

References

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

Supporting the Groundswell

Throughout the textbook groundswell written by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff we have not only learnt how much time and energy must be spent within the groundswell to make it the experience for your company worth it but how that time and energy spent much be effectively utilized in order to be successful. In saying that, it shouldn’t be hard to see the several advantages that can be gained from allowing an open communication channel for your customers to interact with one another. By allowing your customers to engage with each other and share knowledge and information regarding a particular product or service greatly helps to lessen the load put on your company’s traditional support which in turn helps to reduce the cost associated with this type of support. This type of open communication as outlined by Li & Bernoff can be in the form of blogs, such as the CarePages, forums or even wikis. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Of course as with developing and implementing any type of a new strategy the company must put in the time to ensure that the new implementation is the right one for the company. As we all know by now, it is simply not about adapting the strategies of other successful companies but rather finding what types of strategies are best suited for your company and ultimately which strategies best help your company reach their goals. “Before you start, you should examine three things: what problem will you solve, how will you participate, and whether you should create a support community or join an existing one. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 171) By answering these three questions it helps the company get a better understanding about what it is they are trying to achieve and how they can set out to achieve it. Once your company has gone ahead and creating a support community or tapped into an existing one it is vital that you as a company are present within it. Think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you are not listening to what those participants in the support community have to say that why put the time into creating the communication with them. “This dialogue-especially with your most active customers-inevitably draws them into your development process. You end up collaborating with your customers to create better products. That’s taking the power of psychic income and building it into your business.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 176)

Within my work experience that I have been exposed to this summer working with the GNWT at Student Financial Assistance I have been able to gain important knowledge which I could bring forward to the department. This past week was the deadline for post-secondary students to submit their applications to receive financial assistance when they head to school in the fall. Of course, as you can imagine with the extreme popularity of procrastinating this is the day we receive the most applications throughout the entire summer; over 500 applications to be exact. We have a relatively short staff within our division so we need everyone involved in order to get done what we need to get done, however with constant e-mails and calls coming into the office with students asking question after question makes it hard to do what we need to do. That’s where the open communication in the shape of a forum really gains popularity for me. If we were able to incorporate some type of support forum for students to post their questions online and allow for others to answer their inquiries it could potentially help to eliminate the high volume of phone calls that our office receives. It would also help to increase the timeliness that students would receive a response to their question due to the fact that with such a short staff we are often struggling to reply to student’s questions as quickly as we would hope too. “So take the plunge. Let your customers support each other. But you’d better be prepared for how this will change the way you do business.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 176) Supporting the groundswell helps the groundswell continue to grow, so make sure you are putting in the effort to evolve otherwise you will simply stand still.

References

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

 

Talk the Talk When You’re In the Groundswell

Commercials simply just aren’t cutting it anymore like the way they used to when it comes to marketing. Unless you are advertising during the Super Bowl, no one is interested. People have become so exhausted of having to sit through commercials that someone was actually smart enough to create a way of profiting from giving individuals the freedom of “commercial-free” services. As Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff point out in the textbook groundswell, television commercials is not a form of talking, it is shouting. This type of advertising thrives on repetition, so the more time and the more individuals a company can shout out through this stream of advertising, the better. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 101) Unfortunately people no longer want to be shouted through this type of advertising. With how quickly technology continues to develop within the past 5 to 10 years social technologies have really revved up the need that consumers have for conversations instead of simply being shouted at. Consumers want the opportunity to build a relationship with the company and/or the product that they are marketing. They want to be able to see it work, hear what their peers have to say about it and they want to be able to ask questions. Allowing for this type of communication to take place has proven to be quite beneficial for many companies as Li & Bernoff have discussed. The pair introduced four techniques when it comes to talking with the groundswell which can be very rewarding:

  1. Post a viral video.
  2. Engage in the social networks and user-generated content sites.
  3. Join the blogosphere.
  4. Create a community. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 103)

These four techniques have become revolutionary when it comes to marketing; however, it is important to remember that branding on social media may not be for everyone.  Of course with anything in life, just because you have heard of someone else’s success doesn’t mean it can simply be mimicked.Of course these are four techniques that Li & Bernoff have provided to help talk to the groundswell but it is important to note that these are not the only ways that communication can exist between the groundswell. The more innovative a company can be when developing ways to market themselves the better. Blendtec’s “Will It Blend” videos are a perfect example of this. From simply posting a video into the social network the company was able to create that community for a relationship between themselves and their potential customers. The key to succeeding in social networks is to help people spread your message and to measure the result. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 106) I think what sticks out the most to me after reading Chapter 6: talking with the groundswell, is the importance of being original and being true to your company. Never stop looking for ways to communicate with your customers and always be willing to listen to what they have to say because it is the customers who drive the success of your company and if you can get your customers to speak well for you, you will be success in the groundswell.

 

References

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

Connect with the Groundswell, Transform Your Company.

Within the business industry, regardless of the many different business strategies that a company may choose to implement, there is one measurement of success that trumps all others: profit. As we know, money speaks; and it speaks loud. So whether you are an industry leading company such as Apple or if you are a company who has had their fair share of ups and downs such as Blackberry Limited, previously known as Research in Motion (RIM), your ultimate goal is to create as much profit as possible.

Of course there are several different methods to go about doing this, many of which go hand in hand with one another. An example of these various methods could include providing excellent customer service, leading to high levels of customer retention. Another could be by providing innovated and top quality products or simply by being able to sell products at the lowest price such as Wal-Mart. However it is important to note that simply doing whatever it is that makes your company successful year in and year out more often than not, will not always be enough to keep them at the top. Companies such as Blackberry Limited or General Motors have had their fair share of success but they have also experienced many failures. Contrary to what many think, a company is never “too big to fail”. Companies must constantly evaluate and be willing to transform their business strategy (if necessary) to ensure that the full profit potential is being reached.

In the textbook we are introduced to Dell, a company which learnt that success can be reached even after shaking the hands of failure first. The case study explains Dell’s rocky entry into the groundswell. “Dell had a direct sales model which took advantage of low costs, flexible products, and easy ordering to drive its growth and profitability.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 223) However as time went on, Dell failed to evaluate an restructure any potential threats to the company’s profits and customer satisfaction began to decline. Dell was not listening to the customers’ dissatisfaction with the company ad because of that nothing was being done to fix this problem. Yes, Dell is just one company from a long list of companies who experienced similar failure stories due to lack of a business transformation, however what makes Dell such a good case study isn’t their failure but rather their birth of their social strategy. Relating this back into the work industry it is important to realize that there are bound to be problems but that in order to fix those problems you must be willing to listen before you act and then act on what you see. It’s important to know that everything is constantly changing and if you are not changing with it you will get left behind. Be willing to accept change when it is needed and be willing to hear what your customers are saying to you because after all, without them you cannot succeed. I will leave you with five steps that Li and Bernoff provide on how your company can create the best chance of succeeding:
-First, start small.
-Second, educate your executives.
-Third, get the right people to run your strategy.
-Fourth, get your agency and technology partners in sync.
-Fifth, plan for the next step and for the long term. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 230)

 

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

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 .

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.