Internal Groundswell!

There has been a large focus on how to utilize the Groundswell to communicate with customers in order to excel within the market.  However, employees are a necessity in order to see success.  Communication between employees has become more and more common as “employees are connecting on internal social networks, collaborating on wikis, and contributing to idea exchanges.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 234) This communication is key to bettering the organization because employees will contribute ideas and opinions to upper management.  In order to be successful in communicating with employees organizations must ensure that they are listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing.  (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 237)

“The internal groundswell is all about creating new ways for people to connect and work together, and to that end, it’s about relationships, not technology.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 244).  By creating a listening culture, employees feel as though they are being heard and are therefore providing ideas that will contribute to the overall success of the organization.  Management and employees will have closer ties and will work collaboratively to meet customer needs.  Employees must have trust in the organization, that their opinions and comments will be handled fairly by management and executives.  However, “without management’s active participation, your efforts will fail.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 245)  They are necessary to implement an open culture that engages employees and management.  Management must also encourage participation from employees, because without their participation the Groundswell will not be efficient.

Organization may encourage their employees to get involved through “on-ramps.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 247)  This will join new technologies with old ones to push employees to accept the changes and to begin utilizing them.  “Companies need to be ready to fail often, fail quickly, and most important, fail cheaply.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 247)  Manager must be aware that changes may cause failure and rebellion from employees.  It is management’s responsibility to empower employees and keep them positive.  At the end of the day, the secret to being successful is a thriving culture.  (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 248)

Oddly enough, I was employed by both Best Buy and Bell Mobility in my past.  Best Buy had a much stronger way of ensuring that employees communicated across the organization.  Opinions and inputs were usually considered in great detail.  Whereas Bell had the programs and the intentions to empower employees, but did not properly communicate the programs with employees.  They also micro managed often, which did not empower employees.

References:

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

Energize!

When customers are excited and talkative about your company and the products and services that you offer, it is considered “energizing the base” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130). This “is a powerful way to use the groundswell to boost your business.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130) Word of mouth is a necessity in brand marketing and it is successful because “It’s believable, It’s self-reinforcing, It’s self-spreading” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130).

When an organization takes the time to energize their customers they will find that it is fully worth it because customers “keep talking about those products for years.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 133) There are three ways that an organization may attempt to do this:

  • “Tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews.
  • Create a community to energize your customers
  • Participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 134)

Ratings and reviews are found useful because it may push a possible new customer to purchase a product or service if others in similar situations to them had written a public review praising the organization. Ratings and reviews do also give companies more opportunity to have influence with their suppliers.

Car manufactures like Subaru for example, will tend to energize customers in order to push them to go home and tell their friends and family about how great their experience purchasing their car was. Car enthusiasts will tend to talk about their pricey investment to loved ones and word of mouth is fully used by Subaru.

When companies are looking to energize their customers they must design “strategies and choose technologies that matched the relationships they already had” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 147). They must also think of ways for customers to continuously grow relationships. Energizing is absolutely risky because organizations are giving customers the ability to tarnish their reputation with their words. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 147) In order to see success in energizing customers, organizations must listen to the words that they have to say.

Reference:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social

technologies. Boston, Massachusettes: Harvard Business Review Press.

Renewable energy. (2015). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy

The world of Twitter.

Twitter is a phenomenon that has taken our society by storm in the recent years. Twitter gives companies the opportunity to publically spread their “brand messages further than television can do alone, and at far lower cost.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011 p. 197) Organizations who are looking to attract consumers through Twitter are limited to 140 characters per tweet. As Twitter grows and maintains its popularity, it remains “a key part of the groundswell- driving, reporting on, and extending activity in everything from blogs to social networks.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011 p. 197) The following are categorized as the elements of the Twitter ecosystem:

  • “Followers
  • Hashtags and searches
  • Mentions and retweets
  • Links
  • Lists
  • Apps and tools” (Li & Bernoff, 2011 p. 198)

Overall, companies must utilize social media to cater to their consumers and their technological demands. Twitter specifically is forms of social media that organizations must pursue in order to continuously advertise to customers but also to communicate with customers on any issues they may have had. Customers are also able to talk amongst each other about the quality of the product or service that is provided by the company. Companies may use Twitter “both for talking and supporting.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011 p. 201) Twitter will often make the interaction between the company and its customers quite personal and direct, which also leads to customers’ expectations to be heard for their opinions. Companies may look at employing an individual to constantly analyze the company Twitter profile in order to meet customer expectations.

When utilizing Twitter as a business strategy, companies must ensure that they do not bore followers. Organizations must “think about what you can offer that might get picked up and repeated by others.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011 p. 203) They must also collaborate with customers over Twitter to come up with new ideas for future products or services.

When pursuing Twitter as a business strategy, companies must make sure that they “be ready to support people, be ready for a crisis, respond, retweets, and link, and check with legal and regulatory staff” (Li & Bernoff, 2011 p. 210).

Bell Mobility utilizes Twitter to promote new products and services in order to compete with their two main competitors: Telus and Rogers. By the looks of it, they do not communicate with customers directly. However, each year Bell conducts a charity where they spread around a hashtag that is labeled “#Bellletstalk”. Each time a Twitter user places that hashtag within their tweets or as soon as they retweets another user, Bell donates to mental health awareness. This shows how comfortable they are with Twitter and social media in general.

References:

Glasbregen cartoon service. (2014). In Glasbergen. Retrieved from

http://www.glasbergen.com/?s=twitter

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

Communities & Customer Support

Although supporting customers may be difficult, it is an absolute necessity if you want to be seen positively in the public eye. It is quite pricey to set up services that are available within your organization to cater to the needs of customers. However, it sets you apart from competitors and allows consumers to remain loyal to you organization. Customer Support can be show in two ways: self-service and outsourcing. “Self service revolution, in which companies put massive amounts of product and problem-solving information online and encouraged customers to use it.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 158). This is a rather cost saving alternative because it requires less employees and pushes customer to do their own research on the internet rather than relying on those employed by the organization. The second trend was “outsourcing-moving support calls overseas.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 158) This option will also provide organizations with cost savings because salary overseas is often more then reasonable and a large amount less then salary expectations within Western countries. These two options both have problems associated with them. Whether it be language barriers for overseas operations or customers inability to operate company services on their own, the Groundswell is able to step in and provide organizations with better options.

Community forums have become one of the most efficient and effective ways to reach large audiences within the groundswell. Within a community, consumers and employees/managers are able to discuss organizational and product matters. Wikis are useful if “ you have customers who you think are ready to share in a common collection of information” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.168). However, with that being said, wiki’s are difficult to maintain and to get going to begin with. The Groundswell suggests that organizations:

  • “Start small, but plan for a larger presence
  • Reach out to your most active customers
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community
  • Build in a reputation system
  • Let your customers lead you” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.174).

By creating a community, your customers will expect you to “listen and respond to them.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.176) A community forum or wiki are open to all discussions from customers and even competitors. Conversations will not be limited to the products and their functionality, but it will also be about prices and complaints. Organizations must be aware of how to deal with unhappy customers just as much as they are excited for those who are satisfied. This type of environment will allow companies to “end up collaborating with your customers to create better products.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.176)

Bell Mobility has attempted to use both customer support strategies throughout their rise in Canada. As the organization grew, they began to realize that customers were in constant contact with their employees to analyze bills, rate plans, and questions on the purchasing of products. Therefore, they expanded their organization overseas and placed their call centers in developing areas of the world.   However, much to their surprise, customers had constant complains of the language barriers and employees within the stores were also struggling to communicate with the call centers. Today, Bell has moved all call centers back within Canada and has had to deal with the increase in costs in order to satisfy their consumers. They have also began pushing customers to utilize their self serve options available upon their website, and even their own application that is available on all mobile devices. If you turn to the Bell website today, customers can make all types of changes to their accounts without having to occupy their time trying to get ahold of a Bell employee.

Reference

Call Center Solutions. (2015). In Centah. Retrieved from http://www.centah.com/solutions/call-center-solutions/

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

Talking with the Groundswell

Organizations who prioritize the groundswell will be able to listen to the needs and wants of their consumers without pursuing excessive marketing techniques. The chapter focuses in on four techniques that an organization can utilize: social networks, blogs, viral videos, and communities.

One of the simplest techniques nowadays is via social networks and publically branding yourself via websites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. However, with that being said, the conversation side of things is much harder to maintain via social networks. “The key to succeeding in social networks is to help people spread your message and to measure the result.”(Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.106) If an organization does not put in the effort to ensure that consumers are sharing their products or services with their fellow social networkers then they are not succeeding at pursuing social networks as a main technique.

Blogging has grown more popular, particularly now that it can be linked to the bloggers social media sites for all followers to constantly see. Blogs provide detailed back and forth communication between the bloggers of an organization and those who are reading the blog. Blogging has become extremely popular within the beauty and fashion industries. Celebrity influences that promote a certain product will tend to write blogs about the benefits of such product and will then link their blogs within their Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. This provides their consumers with the opportunity to read into the product in great detail. It also allows them to feel as though they have a personal connection with the individual who is pushing them to purchase that product or service. However, blogging is not always simple, and the Groundswell provides readers with the best tips to be a successful blogger. These tips include: developing a plan, rehearsing, and outlining a goal for your blog. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.116)

When looking into viral videos, it is essentially where companies will post a video and wait for individuals to share it with each other. “To be most effective, these videos must allow people to interact.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.104) The viral videos must be posted in a particular way that pushes people to discuss via a social network, blog, or community. Sephora, a large makeup boutique that is found worldwide, will often put up videos on their site that push makeup artists to discuss new products and push them to buy more products online.

Creating a community will allow organization to engage with customers and provide them with the best knowledge on the product or service.   By creating a community, a company provides customers with the opportunity to band together and keep updated on your product or service. It is essential that a company “support the community for the long term” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.123) A community needs nurturing and care and if it becomes outdated then it will not last and people will not be interested in the community and the company itself. A community that is easily recognizable is any sports communities that support a particular team or player.

One of the biggest issues that come with deciding which technique to utilize, is that it must be chosen properly and if it is not then the organization may lose money. An analysis of the organization and the underlying goals of what the company wishes to get from pursuing one of these techniques is absolutely needed. Talking with the groundswell requires patience, feedback and the ability to interpret that feedback into useful information.

I believe that Subaru Canada has attempted to utilize all of these techniques at one point in time. They are currently attempting to become more of an influence within the social network world via Twitter and Facebook. However, one thing that Subaru does impeccably is creating a community that is full of individuals who share the exact same passion for fast and powerful cars. This community has constant interaction with each other over the Internet via social networks and blogs. However they also have constant meet ups within destinations that may have a large population of them.

References:

Bernoff, J., Li, C. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by social technologies

Subaru Club SG | Subaru Club Singapore. (2015). In Men haircut ideas. Retrieved from http://www.menhaircutideas.us/images/Subaru%20Club%20SG%20%7C%20Subaru%20Club%20Singapore

Strategies for tapping the Groundswell

The POST method is a process that consists of four steps that allows an organization to plan properly. The acronym stands for: people, objectives, strategy and technology. This process guides organizations on introducing the groundswell within their company structure and processes.

The first step looks at people and whether customers are going to be ready for any changes or if they are going to react negatively. It is crucial that an organization listen to its target market demands and requests in order to determine whether they are prepared for the implementation. This initial step is crucial and outlines whether the groundswell should be implemented, simply because if consumers are not interested in participating, the groundswell will be useless. The social technographics tool allows companies to determine their different categories of consumers, which allows them to estimate how they may react to the groundswell. For example, my personal employer, Subaru had a technographic chart that outlined the ages between 45-54, with no specific gender. This description can be found here.

The second step looks at forming objectives. Groundswell defines objectives into five categories: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing. One of these objectives must be chosen prior to any changes or implementation of new processes. Companies who utilize the listening objective are looking to understand their customers efficiently. Those who implement the talking objective are looking to “use the groundswell to spread messages about your company.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.68) Organizations that are able to focus in on their most enthusiastic customers that would be the most effective in pushing word of mouth will use the Energizing objective. A company that is looking to push customers to aid each other would use a supporting objective. And lastly, companies who are looking to get customers insight on how to design actual products and services would use an Embracing objective. Subaru seems to implement the listening objective due to the fact that customers provide opinions and insights on how they may improve the following years models, and often the company will tend to integrate their suggestions.

The third step in the POST method is to create a strategy that allows companies to properly implement and oversee all processes and changes of the groundswell. An organization must ask itself in this stage, “how will we engage our customers, and how will that engagement grow over time?” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.71) A strategy allows an organization to fully think through their goals and what plans they are going to make in order to reach them. When thinking through a strategy, a company must look at creating a plan that can grow, considering the consequences of the strategy, finding someone to implement the strategy, and thoroughly analyzing the technology that may be needed for the strategy. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.72) For example, Subaru made a strategy to become more technologically advanced within their cars in order to properly compete in the automotive industry. The organization was forced to adapt to these changes by training employees on how to instruct customers on the ways they may use this new technology.

The fourth and final step is to analyze what technologies are appropriate with the three previous steps an organization has decided on. Technology may be one of the largest reasons that a plan may fail. As technology evolves everyday it is crucial that an organization “plan on quick, simple, and staged deployments that provide flexibility.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.74) If the technology does not align well with the prior three steps of the POST plan process, the groundswell will not be successful.

References:

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

Planning cartoons. (2014). In Quoteimg. Retrieved from http://quoteimg.com/planning-

cartoons/www.cartoonmotivators.com*images*P*ProperPlanning.jpg/www.cartoonmotivators.com*Properplanning.html/

Connecting with the Groundswell

This chapter overlooks one of the benefits that organizations gain when constantly engaging with the Groundswell. This benefit relates to constant communication and engagement with customers, and the ability to align your company with what your customers needs and wants. In order to see this shift in organization structure as a success, it must be implemented throughout the entire organization where all employees fully understand the groundswell. The three steps that companies must take in order to transform their organization correctly include:

  1. Take it step by step- time and practice is required and employees must be given time to adjust to changes.
  2. Each step must lead to the next in natural progression- organizations must form a vision on where they hope to get to in order to be able to lead employees down that path.
  3. Executive support is a must- upper management must be able to support the ideas and paths that employees are generating in order to follow the groundswell. (Bernoff, 2011, p.217)

Chapter eleven emphasizes that “even though you may have a clear vision of what the company needs to do, getting the company to embrace the groundswell is going to take a lot of small steps and a lot of time.” (Bernoff, 2011, p.222 ) Organizations who refuse to accept this may struggle to find any success and growth within their company.

Organizations are able to prepare for a transformation by starting small, educating executives, finding the correct people to run the strategy, getting all employees and technology partners aligned, and planning long term goals and steps.

An organization that did this integration right is Ford Motors Company. The organization would post a blog and then repost that blog on the front page of their website, alongside the comments that consumers have written. However, this transition seemed to take time and had the support of executives. The idea behind this strategy was to show that in a tough industry such as the automotive one, they are not afraid to display customer feedback to others.

References:

Bernoff, J., Li, C. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World

Transformed by social technologies

Porterfield, A. (2011, April 12). 9 companies doing social media right and why. In Social

media examiner. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/9-companies-doing-social-media-right-and-why/

Wildt, C. (2015). Buying cars cartoons and comics. In Cartoon stock. Retrieved from

http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/a/buying_cars.asp

Listening to the Groundswell

This chapter essentially outlines that no matter what a company pays to create their brand, their brand is what their customers believe it is. The most crucial aspect of a company’s success is the ability to listen to its consumers and create their brand based off of what they believe is right.   Many believe that large organizations tend to ignore their customers feedback, but this is not usually the case, they do, but they simply call it “market research” (Bernoff, 2011, p. 79). This is one of the most costly sides of their organizations, but it is also one of the most important segments. The groundswell is needed to analyze customer demands and desires, but in a way that takes the vast amount of volume that is available online and filters it through technology.

The best way to gain customer insight is to work alongside vendors who are able to utilize professional tools to bring in the best customer feedback and inquires. The groundswell states that there are two ways to do this: set up your own private community or begin brand monitoring. The best advice that I found within this chapter is that listening does not prove any benefit unless one was to act on it.

The six reasons to begin listening are:

  • “Find out what your brand stands for
  • Understand how buzz is shifting
  • Save research money: increase research responsiveness
  • Find the sources of influence in your market
  • Manage PR crises
  • Generate new product and marketing ideas” (Bernoff, 2011, 86).

As a result of listing, an organization is changed in many ways. It may alter the power structure of an organization or a company may become far too attached and reliant on feedback from customers.

In relation to my employer, Subaru, I believe that they utilized these strategies to cater to their consumers. Consumer demands increased as the car industry began to excel and have technologically advanced interiors. Subaru did not meet their customer’s expectations and began surveying customers to determine the reasoning behind their decline of sales.   They came to the conclusion that the interior of their cars was falling behind competitors and took the necessary measures to correct their problems. The following years models had advanced interiors to satisfy their consumers.

References:

Bernoff, J., Li, C. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by social technologies

Social technographic profile

Chapter Summary:

This chapter provides an emphasis on the roles that people contribute within a Groundswell. It displays that although some individuals may be more active than others, each person present creates an overall Groundswell community. For example, one may be a creator, where they constantly post their input and opinions, one may be a reactor, and one may be a reader, but together they create a strong union. Groundswell states “a strategy that treats everyone alike will spell failure- people aren’t alike and wont respond the same way” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.40), and I could not agree more. Differentiation must be accounted for, or a community will not grow effectively.

This chapter looks at the different groups of consumers via the social technographics. There are creators, who tend to be the individuals who publish blogs or web pages and make the initial step and the most amount of effort to get their opinions out there. There are conversationalists who will tend to utilize social networking sites to update statuses, sites like Twitter or Facebook are popular or conversationalists. Critics will actually provide their opinion on products or services with a rating. They will also tend to provide insight onto other individuals blogs. Collectors will tend to use RSS Feeds and provide their votes to online polls. Joiners essentially sign up for social media sites and will visit them to maintain their presence. Spectators will tend to read/listen to what others have to say without providing much insight on their personal opinion. And lastly, there are those who are inactive who do essentially nothing.

The chapter focuses in on the fact that all individuals get attracted to the groundswell because we all have a secret desire to remain connected. Some may use the groundswell to maintain friendships while some may use it to create new friendships. Some may simply participate in the groundswell because the people surrounding them have and seem to think its necessary for all. Some may provide their input and reviews to sites that they have actually been satisfied with. And some simply find themselves doing it impulsively, whether that is an altruistic, prurient, creative, validation, or affinity impulse. At the end of the day, everyone gets drawn into the Groundswell appeal, one way or another.

I had stated that my place of employment, Subaru, would have two separate forms of target markets. One being the younger generation looking for faster cars and one being the older generation looking for a safe and reliable all wheel drive vehicle that would get them through the harsh Canadian winters. However, for the most part, the main target market is generally the ages between 45-54. There is not one specific gender that is attracted to the products that Subaru offers, the target market includes both males and females.

References:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed

by social technologies. Boston, Massachusettes:   Harvard Business Review Press.

What’s The Social Technographics Profile Of Your Customers?. (2014). In

Forrester. Retrieved from http://empowered.forrester.com/tool_consumer.html

Social Media Today

Social media has become a worldwide phenomenon that is influential in ways that we often cannot comprehend. It is relatively easy to ignore the downfalls and focus on the extremely large positives. However, while organizations expand their marketing techniques via social media, consumers have realized that they are able to voice their opinions in a more public way. In the “Users of the world, unite!” case, a very interesting point was made by the author, that in the past companies did not struggle to control the information that was published to the public as much as they currently do. Thriving organizations were able to push away negative images via press announcements and impressive public relations teams. (Kaplan, Haenlein, 2010)

 According to groundswell and the case mentioned above, organizations today have no chance in attempting to thwart the comments of the public, but instead have to simply sit back and allow the negative feedback to occur and then attempt to do damage control. This seems to be the price to pay when having a successful organization implement a social media-marketing page such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

This came as great interest to me because I am currently watching the organization that I am employed by face the negative side of social media. My current employer recently went active on Facebook and Twitter to advertise locally within the automotive industry. For the first couple of weeks, sales picked up and the sales managers were excited at this new opportunity to attract potential new customers and increase sales. However, one disgruntled customer made it a personal mission to voice their opinion on the Subaru Facebook page. This allowed other upset past customers to comment upon this individuals post and voice their anger. The sales managers immediately became frustrated and panicked on what their next move should be. When consumers began entering the dealership and explaining that they had seen these upsetting posts, the salesmen struggled to form reasoning as to why the dealership was portrayed in such a negative manner.

I believe that social media marketing is a part of our society and organizations that refuse to adapt to these changes, will fall behind and become outshined by competitors. With that being said, companies must have a consistent presence on their social media pages in order to monitor and control any sort of negative comments. I have recently noticed that many business pages on Twitter will respond to customers with angry comments and notify them that they have noted their concerns and will be in personal contact with the customer to resolve the issue. I believe that it is impossible to avoid negative feedback but there is a way for companies to control the damage before it truly harms their business.

References:

Bernoff, J., Li, C. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.   Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review Press.

Kaplan, A. Haenlein, M. Users Of The World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media. (2010). Retrieved From: http://moodle.nait.ca/pluginfile.php/2412080/mod_resource/content/1/Kaplan%2C%20Andreas%20-%20Users%20of%20the%20world%2C%20unite.pdf

Web comic kid blog. (2012, August 6). In Onyx Digital. Retrieved from
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