According to Li & Bernoff (2011) supporting customers with their product is a big burden for companies because it usually cost their call centres $6 or $7. When all the cost are added up including the tech support, it would usually cost around $10 to $20. This adds up, thats why companies went to a quest to find a way to reduce those costs.

In the 1990s, companies have figured that they could send their customers to a website for informations. This resulted to what is now called as the “web self-service revolution”. e.g., Websites that has FAQ(Frequently Asked Questions). The second thing they figured was to move the call centres oversees. By doing this companies was able to reduce the cost by up to 40%.

The main goal of these companies is to reduce cost, but at the same time to be able to respond quickly to customer’s demands. This is where groundswell comes in because “people are far more willing to trust each other than a company, and people are willing to spend lots of time helping each other” (p. 158).

At present, companies can now utilize the groundswell to help them support the needs and wants of the consumers. In my own opinion, I believe the best way to go about supporting customer is to create a community. This is because it is not that expensive to set up, and it only needs to be moderated for posts that are inappropriate. This reduces the costs of call centres, and as well as the stress of always waiting on the phone for your turn to speak to the next available representative.

By creating a community, both employees and customers can collaborate with each other not only to support each other, but also to pilot new ideas which can bring a competitive advantage for the company.

Here is a practical advice for getting started with a community.

  1. Start small, but plan for a larger presence – starting small is the best way to succeed as in many groundswell activities.
  2. Reach out to your most active customers – Through the sales group, find the enthusiasts and ask them how they’d prefer to participate.
  3. Plan to drive traffic to your community – Advertise on sites where your customer shop, and put the community web address on the cover of the owner’s manual.
  4. Build in a reputation system – Allowing participants to build up a reputation because this is crucial
  5. Let your customers lead you – Include a thread called “Improving the community,” and pay close attention to what you hear throughout the forum.

Last but not the least, before you start a customer support initiative, you must first ask and answer this three questions:

  1. What problem is the support activity trying to solve?
  2. How will you participate?
  3. Should you create or join an existing community?



Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing



Traditional marketing techniques such as radio & television advertising does not have the same impact on consumers as they once did.  Traditional marketing theory can be explained as the marketing funnel. According to the theory that is presented in the funnel, customers are driven to each stages through marketing activities such as advertising.  Traditional marketing involves “shouting” at a potential customer whereas talking with groundswell develops relationships;therefore, resulting in loyal customers.



Li and Bernoff (2011) gave four most common and effective ways to talk with the groundswell:

  1. Post a viral video – Post a video online and make sure to allow people to share it.
  2. Engage in social networks and user-generated content – Creating a positive personality online is one of the simplest ways to extend a company’s brand reach.
  3. Join the blogosphere – Have executive to blog, and connect with consumers. This is very crucial because it allows your company to listen and talk to the consumers. When blogging, I believe it is very important to remember the People and Objectives from the POST Strategy. Here are another 10 tips for successful blogging:
  • Start by listening
  • Determine the goal for the blog
  • Estimate ROI (Return on Investments)
  • Develop a plan
  • Rehearse
  • Develop an editorial process
  • Design the blog and its connection to your site
  • Develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog
  • Remember, blogging is more that just writing
  • Final advice: be honest.

      4. Create a community – Communities are a powerful way to connect and add value to consumers. They are also very effective in sending marketing messages as long as you listen, and not just “shout”.  A community is a space where individuals who share the same interests are able to interact online. Identifying a community allow companies to tailor a marketing message based on the community. A company can figure out a the demographics o f the community using a Social Technographic Profile

Now, you ask which is better for you? It really depends on what your company’s communication problem is. For example, do you have an awareness problem? post a viral video. Do you have a word-of-mouth problem? use social networks. Do you have an accessibility problem? create a community.

Conversation with consumers will continuously evolve. “Even as the technologies change, the basic conversational nature of those technology will remain central” (p. 126). Marketers must learn to talk, listen and respond to adapt to these changes.



Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing

POST Strategy


Li and Bernoff (2011) created a planning strategy in joining groundswell called the POST method. The POST method is the “foundation of groundswell thinking — a systematic framework for assembling your plan” (p. 67).

POST is an acronym that stands for people, objective, strategy, and technology:

People – This first step allows companies to determine how their clients or customers will engage based on their groundswell strategy. A social technographic profile is one option a company can use to assess how different demographics(people) are engaging in groundswell. One example is an accounting firm. Individuals and business owners who are looking for financial services are the key target market of these accounting firms. As we can see from the social technographics below, this demographic is using groundswell as joiners and spectators.

Forrester 2

Objective – This step asks companies to make sure that companies have clear objectives because “it is the key to a successful strategy”. There are five objectives that companies can pursue in groundswell:

  1. Listening – “Use the groundswell for research and to better understand your customers. This goal is best suited for companies that are seeking customer insights for use in marketing and development” (p. 68).
  2. Talking – “Use the groundswell to spread message about your company. Choose this goal if you’re ready to extend you current digital marketing initiatives to a more interactive channel” (p. 68).
  3. Energizing – “Find your most enthusiastic customers, and use the groundswell to supercharge the power of their word of mouth. This works best for companies that know that they have brand enthusiasts to energize” (p. 68)
  4. Supporting – “Set up groundswell tools to help your customers support each other. This is effective for companies with significant support costs and customers who have a natural affinity for each other” (p. 69).
  5. Embracing – “Integrate your customers into the way your business works, including using their help to design your products” (p. 69).


For an accounting firm, the best objective to use is #2. Since there are many restrictions when it comes to advertising and soliciting, the best way to spread their brand or a message would be to have word of mouth do it for them. Examples are using social media and forums to reach out to potential clients.

Strategy – This step is concerned on how companies will manage its relationship with its customers. Using “talking objective” helps the company by using current clients as messenger to carry messages(word of mouth advertising) to potential clients.

Technology – Once we figure out the people, objective, and strategy, we can now focus on the technology that we want to use. For an accounting firm, I believe the best medium to use is social media, and forums. Since 47% are joiners, many of the target market are always joining the internet/media bandwagon, therefore, there is a high chance that they would be on Facebook, Instagram, etc…


Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing