As the saying goes, one must listen before they act. But more importantly, especially in the case of companies learning how to succeed in the groundswell, one must understand why they are doing something before they do it. Throughout the textbook groundswell, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff frequently talk about the mistakes many companies make when it comes to the groundswell. The problem arises because companies know that they must be active within the groundswell but they don’t know why. These companies wait to see how other competitors are engaging and then decide that they must do the same if they do not want to be left behind. In other words, companies know that they need to get involved, but they don’t know why. This problem has been coined the groundswell approach-avoidance syndrome. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 66) If you believe you or your co-worker(s) may have caught the disease, well don’t sweat it too much, luckily there is a cure and it’s much simple than one would think. Using a four-step planning process known as POST, an acronym which stands for people, objectives, strategy and technology, has become the most effective way to build a groundswell strategy. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67)
The POST method is not limited to use by just companies that struggle with the groundswell, but rather any company that wants to strengthen their understanding of their objectives. “The clarity of your objectives will make or break your strategy. Success depends on a beacon to go toward – a reason to enter the groundswell.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 68) That being said, I will now explore the POST method when it comes to the company which I identified in Activity 1: Student Financial Assistance (SFA).
Looking at the first acronym of POST, we analyze the people. We get the best understanding of the customers of the company by looking at the Social Technographics Profile as described in Blog #3. I have previously identified SFA’s target market to include potential, current and past post-secondary students and that the majority of the target audience would fall into the 18-25 age groups, however could also include mature students who range from 25 to 35 as well. This age range would be considered tech-savvy although that does not mean that each client behavior should be branched together. As the authors identified, “you may build a whole social networking strategy only to find that your customers are more likely to write reviews than join social networks. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67) This point is what makes the first step in the POST method the most important. If SFA were to fail to properly identify the “people” with whom they are targeting they will be unsuccessful in throughout the rest of the progression. With the knowledge that is currently available to me with regards to my chosen company as identified in activity #1 it could be determined that the Social Technographics Profile for the people who are connected with Student Financial Assistance given their demographics could be categorized as spectators, joiners and critics with regards to the Social Technographics ladder.
Next we move on to the objectives within the POST method. The objectives are another word for our company’s goals. It is so important that a company clearly identifies what they want to achieve and express this through the objectives they create. Li & Bernoff identify five objectives that can be pursued within the groundswell which are quite simple but very effective. These five objectives are listening, talking energizing, supporting and embracing. Some believe these objectives don’t meet all the needs of the company, but in reality each of these five objectives can have a powerful impact. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 69) If Student Financial Assistance can properly incorporate each of these objectives they can expect good things to come. It can also be noted that each objective go hand-in-hand with one another, if you can correctly incorporate the objective of listening to their clients then they will be better off when it comes to their client’s needs. Once they have listened to what their clients have to say they can engage and talk with them to help stimulate meaningful conversations which can result in the marketing of their product. If clients know that there is open communication it provides a good relationship among the clients and the company. In turn, this creates the needed energy and helps to motivate enthusiastic clients who enjoy engaging with the company rather than feeling like it is a chore to do so. Lastly the two objectives of supporting and embracing is all about enabling your clients the ability to support and work with one another for the benefit of both the company as well as the clients. If the clients who use Student Financial Assistance are willing to express how they enjoy engaging with Student Financial Assistance then the company can be assured that they are doing a good job engaging with the groundswell.
Moving along in the POST method we come to developing the strategy for Student Financial Assistance moving forward. You will see a similarity among implementing the previous five objectives as this is what will make up the strategy for the company. This strategy ultimately speaks to how you want the relationships with your customer to develop. No matter which strategy your company decides to implement it is important to realize this strategy is never permanent. This brings us to the last step of the POST method which stands for technology. One of the main reasons why a strategy is never permanent is because technology is always changing. A company needs to use the previous three steps of the POST method to determine which application best fits with your strategy. Based on the Social Technographics Profile of our clients Student Financial Assistance has determined that the best applications for the company to engage in are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to be the most effective.
Lastly, after putting Student Financial Assistance through the POST method and see how they can use this to develop and grow their presence in the groundswell, I will leave you with the wise words of Li & Bernoff: “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. So it’s time to engage with the groundswell. Your company will be better for it.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 75)
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press .