The groundswell inside your company.



Unlike the rest, this blog will focus more on using groundswell to connect the company internally. This final blog will detail how internal groundswell benefits the management-employee relationship inside your company. In this blog, I will also give strategies to nurture internal groundswell.

Furthermore, Internal groundswell can help a company achieve several groundswell objectives. By listening to your employees, you would be able to hear some problems that you weren’t aware of before. By talking you can make sure that employees ar all up to date with the company’s program or strategy. Energizing would improve employee morale, and boost positive thinking which would lead to higher customer/employee satisfaction. Supporting would be much easier because the employees are not limited in their networks of support. By using groundswell, they can have a vast networks of people they can ask for assistance.

Finally, here are the three strategies for nurturing the internal groundswell (Li & Bernoff, 2011):

  1. Promote a listening culture from the top down: Internal social applications demand a high level of trust because employees have more at stake when they participate. Employees need to know that management will listen to their openly contributed opinions, rather than punishing people (p. 245).
  2. Ease and encourage participation with incentives: Having the right culture in place and an engaged management team is a good start, but it’s not enough. Incentves are like the control rods in a nuclear reactor – they dampen the participation and keep the idea generation from heating up (p. 247)
  3. Find and empower the rebels in your organization: rather than think about the things that can go wrong, think about the opportunity cost, namely the lost opportunity of creating a groundswell of enthusiastic employees. Managers should stem the inherent corporate impulse to put in place processes, controls, and guidelines for everything. (p. 248).


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


Energizing the Groundswell.



So far I have talked about listening, talking, and supporting  the groundswell. Today, I will be talking about how to use the groundswell to energize your target market – that is, word of mouth. According to Li and Bernoff (2011), “Energizing the groundswell means tapping into the power of word of mouth by connecting with, and turning on, your most committed customers…” (p. 131).

Word of mouth is a powerful amplifier of brand marketing for three reasons.

  1. It is believable because testimonials from customers are more credible than media sources.
  2. It is self-reinforcing because many people are talking about it.
  3. It is self-spreading. If a product is worth using, its word of mouth generates more word of mouth in a cascade that is literally exponential.

In order to build good reputation and brand recognition, it is very important for a company to energize their target market, and ensure that the consumers are helping the company spread the word. To energize the target market, a company can implement a few techniques.

  1. Tap into customer’s enthusiasm with ratings and reviews
  2. Create a community to energize your customers
  3. Participate in and energize online communities of your brand

It is very important carefully approach the energizing strategy  because it is much riskier than the talking and listening strategies that I discussed in my previous blogs. The reason for this is because you are now directly dealing with people who are going to talk about your brand. Dealing directly with costumers creates unique challenges for businesses. In most cases, there could be very little to no control on where conversations are going. Furthermore, Li and Bernoff (2011) recommended five steps for applying energizing techniques.

  1. Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell. Energizing might not be for everyone. It only works for companies who have enthusiastic customers.If your product is a commodity and does not provide  a strong brand, or emotional connection then it might do more damage than good.
  2. Check the Social Technographics Profile of your customers. It is good to know how your audience is interacting with the groundswell before implementing a strategy. If your audience is not active as Creators, Critics or Joiners, then there is a good chance that your technique would be wasted.
  3. Ask yourself, “what is my customer’s problem?”. It is very important to know and identify what your customer’s problem is and how you can help resolve it.
  4. Pick a strategy that fits your customers’ Social Technographics Profile and problems. You must determine which techniques to use based on the online habits of your customers.
  5. Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul. Commitment is very important here. It is almost like a marriage. You must keep the relationship going or you might suffer the backlash.

Follow this simple steps and you will be on your way in using groundswell to energize your target market.



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

Tapping the Groundswell with Twitter.



According to Li & Bernoff (2011), “tweeters” are three times as likely to be Creators, more than twice as likely to be Critics, and half as likely to be Joiners compared with typical online consumers, as we can see from the Social Technographic Profile below:





In this chapter, Li and Bernoff talked about the benefits of using Twitter, and how it can be used to serve the five objectives of groundswell. Big companies such as McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc.., uses Twitter to connect with its customers for advertisements purpose, and to ultimately improve its brand.

If you need a refresher on the five objectives of groundswell, you can visit my POST strategy blog. By applying those five objectives, you would be able to use Twitter in order for your organization to be successful in using groundswell.

Twitter is now at the center of a whole ecosystem of interaction, and here are a few elements of that ecosystem:

  1. Followers –  You can follow anyone you want unless that person blocks you
  2. (#)Hashtags and searches – “Hashtags are simply terms designed to mark a tweet as referring to a topic, and are indiated with a # (the pound or hash sign), such as #superbowl or #FF for Follow Friday (p. 198). This makes it very easy for companies to see who and what is being said by their company by simply searching their companies hashtags
  3. Mentions and retweets – Mentions and retweets allow the best ideas to spread virally, which, given Twitter’s immediacy, often happens amazingly quickly
  4. Links – Pretty self-explanatory. Linking is very easy to do because it just copy & paste, and it is usually has a description accompanying what the link is all about to make it easier for audience to see if the link interests them
  5. Lists – This ability allows you to create lists of people you follow, and these lists can be shared. For example, you can now easily see the tweets from Robert Scoble’s list of the most influential people in technology
  6. Apps & Tools –  Twitter is available on many platforms including desktop, android and apple devices. Since Twitter feeds are open, people can find a huge collection of tools to tap into it for both individual “twitterers” and companies (p. 198).


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




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

How Connecting with Groundswell can Transform a Company.


For my blog this week, I would like to talk about how groundswell can transform a company, and I would also give advise on how to properly engage and connect with your customers using groundswell. According to Li and Bernoff (2011), transforming a company takes time and requires incremental changes to allow people to adjust. They also gave three essential elements for this transformation:

  1. Take small step at a time that have a big impact. “A mental shift takes time and practice and requires building a repertoire of shared successes” (p. 217
  2. Have a vision and a plan. Having a vision and a plan can keep the company through rough phases. It gives you something to focus on.
  3.  Build leaders into the plan. Have senior executives to support your plan in order for it to move forward and be implemented.

Bernoff and Li, in their book, gave two case studies about two companies that transformed their companies through groundswell. In this blog, I would be focusing more on Dell.

Dell is a tech company that manufactures and sell products such as laptop, desktops, and software. Dell have an in-home service where  technician can come to customers home to fix their Dell products. Unfortunately, this program was unsuccessful due to the high complaints that consumer has about the service. When Dell realized that people have been complaining in the internet, Dell decided to hire people to read blogs online to see what consumers did and did not like.Dell listened to groundswell and started acting based on what they heard. By doing this, they were able to transform how customers viewed them.

Implementing and listening goes hand in hand. Dell used feedback from customers to provide service that will ultimately add value to their brand. Bernoff and Li (2012) provided 5 steps to prepare an organization for a transformation:

  1. Start Small – Changes will take time, and you only have limited power so choose your battles wisely.
  2. Educate Your Executives – Paint the picture, use research to persuade senior executives that what you are suggesting is proven, and will ultimately transform the company for the good.
  3. Get the right people to run your strategy –Do not pick someone because they are a senior executive, or because they have the time to do it. Pick some one who is passionate about the customers.
  4. Get your partners in sync – Get your partners to invest time and resources to technology. If they don’t, let them go.  They might be slowing you down.
  5. Planning for the next step and for the long term –  Always check your progress to see that whatever you are doing is going somewhere. The purpose of a transformation is to keep a long-term success.


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