POST -It makes a difference.

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)

 

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.