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The groundswell inside your company

Okay, so in previous posts I discussed using groundswell to communicate with customer. Today, I will be discussing how you can tap the groundswell to connect with your employees. To start off, note that the bigger your company the more complexity you face in terms of communication and information flow.000000000.png

Strategies for nurturing the internal groundswell:

The most important thing is to understand that internal groundswell is all about creating relationships where people can connect and work together. In order to nurture the groundswell power of your employees you need a culture that supports listening, participating and empowering employees.

Listening: Integrating internal social applications require a high level of trust because employees are opening up about their opinions. Internal groundswell is effective only when management is listening. You cannot expect your employees to participate in the social networking tools if managers are not being involved as well. Thus, company’s groundswell thinking does not come with no effort.  It takes a contribution of executive time and sponsorship to nurture it, support it, and market it.

Participating: although establishing a good culture and engaged management team is beneficial, but that it is not enough to achieve a better communication goal. Internally, the inactives reduce the participation level and limit the creativity in ideas. Identifying the level of participation required is based on the application you are using. In other words, some applications require full participation to work while others work fine with few collaborators.

  • How to goose participation?

Companies should look for ways to encourage participation rather than forcing employees to join. One way to promote participation is to make accommodations for the applications used to turn it into valuable tool. Another is to select the right technologies for tam work (Wiki over Blog).

Encouraging: the first step of groundswell thinking is to find your rebels. One that is done, it is the manager’s job to direct the rebels’ energy productively. This includes providing them with political and technical resources. By doing so, they discover where in the organization change can take place quickly and where it will be resisted. Thus, you need to provide them with full support by letting them try things out and learn from their mistakes. Then, use your management experience to notice what is working well and duplicate that.,.png

Culture and relationships trump technologies

My last tip for you is to keep in mind that the secret to thriving in the internal groundswell is culture. Thus, do not focus on the implementation of the technology as much as you do for managing and changing the way the organization work. Here, I’m talking about the change that needs active participation of top levels management.

Last but not least, remember that you cannot force employees to adopt the groundswell thinking, but you can provide motives to encourage participation!

I really hope that you enjoyed reading this Blog and found some beneficial information 

If you have anything to add don’t hesitate sharing it …

References:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. massachusetts, boston, united states of america: forrester research, inc.

Social Strategy. (n.d). Groundswell. [Cartoon]. Retrieved from https://meticulousbutterfly.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/teampuzzle.png?w=350&h=200&crop=1

WordPress. (2016). The groundswell inside your company. [Photo]. Retrieved from: https://olugbayi.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/collaboration.png

 

Energizing the Groundswell

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Hello Bloggers and followers!! Today I will try to make my Blog simple and straight to the point. So, here are some questions you may ask:

  • Are you wondering what I mean by energizing?

It is about spreading the world about a product/service via word of mouth.  It’s powerful way to use the groundswell to boost your business. So what makes word of mouth so powerful?

  • It’s believable: getting referenced by customers is more credible than any source of media.
  • It’s self-reinforcing: hearing same comment from multiple people makes it convincing
  • It’s self-spreading: when customers have good experience with products, spreading the experience is easy and fast.

  • How to energize the base and social technographics?

Focus on the Creators group and encourage them to write about your product. This will get the people lower own on the technographics ladder to start hear about it.

  • What is the value of an energized customer?

The value of energizing is dependent on the type of customer you can attract through your reputation and referrals. So, if energizing done through word of mouth how do you measure it?  The answer is as simple as: you can buy a word of mouth program. Examples of companies who sell this program are Massachusetts and BzzAgent.  All your cpmapny needs to do is sign up, and then they send some of their thousands of “volunteer brand evangelists” your product. As a result, if your product is unattractive they won’t talk about it. However, if they like the product

  • What are some techniques for energizing enthusiasts?
  1. Tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews
  2. Create a community to energize your customers
  3. Participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts

 

  • What are the benefits of ratings and reviews?
  • Although it is hard to measure the influence of ratings on buy rate, it is proved that reviews increase the buy rate.
  • Although reviews can’t be 100% positive, negative ones reflect the credibility of the company website.
  • Ratings and reviews help in leverage with suppliers.

 

  • What are some lessons we can learn from energizing a community?
  1. Business-to-business companies have an advantage in building communities. This is because all have something in common.
  2. Communities can get out of control. If you are planning to start one you have to be ready for all situation such as bad comments. Shutting it down is not a solution.
  3. Make sure you know your objectives before going in.

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  • Are there certain steps for applying the techniques of energizing to your own company?
  1. Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell

Energizing is meant for every customer, it is only for the enthusiastic ones. 

  1. Check the social technographics profile of your customers

 Investing time and effort into some researches is a must. This help you figure out numbers about how active your customers are in the groundswell and in what they participate the best.

  1. Ask yourself, “What is my customer’s problem?”

The main focus of a community or a forum discussion is not the product but the problem associated with it from the customers’ perspective.

  1. Pick a strategy that fits your customers’ social technographics profile and problems

Different customers and problems require different strategies. For instance, if you notice that there are a lot of critics within your customers then reviews and ratings may be your suitable tool. Other companies may need communities.  

  1. Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul

Communities aren’t something that you can start and leave whenever you feel like it. It may have an ugly ending. Once you decide to start one you should be able to keep it going.

  • At this point, you may ask “okay, so how energizing is going to transform my company?”

A company that practices the energizing behavior will end up having unpaid R&D partners. Also, it helps you in getting your customers involved in the product development process. This means that you will have a better understanding of what your customer are asking for. In turn, this will lead to customer satisfaction.

 

References:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. massachusetts, boston, united states of america: forrester research, inc.

WordPress. (2013, April 11). Energizing the groundswell. [Cartoon]. Retrieved from https://hodano.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/wom2.png

WordPress. (2013, August 5). Energizing the groundswell. [Cartoon]. Retrieved from https://elannestia.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/hires-1024×794.jpg

WordPress. (2015, Aprill 11). Energizing the groundswell. [Cartoon]. Retrieved from https://localfoodieyeg.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/energizing-the-groundswell/

 

Tapping the groundswell with Twitter

Do you have a Twitter account? Are you looking for a better strategy to use it?…. just keep reading!

People who are not active on Twitter find that updates are limited. However, if you take a closer look you’ll find it richer than you think. It is free, open, connects people, gives them power and most importantly it is simple to use. Of course if you have a Twitter account, you are familiar with the following key words from the Twitter Ecosystem:

twitter-eco-system

Followers: anyone is allowed to follow anyone, unlike other social media platforms.

Hashtags and searches: you can search any Tweet because all updates are public. There is also a special tool (search.twitter.com) where you could look up specific searches. Hashtags (#) are used to indicate key terms that relate to the tweeted topic.

Mentions and retweets: to reply to someone or reference an account Twitter provides @ symbol for this purpose. There is also a “mentions” tab that allows users to discover who is to whom. The retweet option allows users to spread and pass messages to followers.

Links: another way of tweeting is to include a link that you recommend for your followers. This specific feature is what makes the limited space powerful.

Lists: users are able to create lists of followers and sharing the list.

Apps and tools: to make Twitter simple and easy to use, the account contains several useful tools. For example, the TweetDeck tool is a free application that helps users to collect their mentions and searches into columns to make responding easier.

Twitter can serve many objectives

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Talking to twitter: everyone can agree that talking on Twitter is really easy!  But it could also be really be boring if you do not offer something interesting.  If your goal is to attract as many followers as possible, you must tweet interesting things that people are willing to repeat for their followers. However, for a successful strategy, you must respond to what others tweet.

Listening to twitter: the number one recommendation regarding Twitter is to listen. Otherwise, you won’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Of course that doesn’t mean that every company should hire a person to watch all the comments. However, you need to make sure that someone is analyzing the trends to discover whether someone is talking about your brand or not.

Energizing with twitter: this is done by finding people who support your products and amplifying their voices on twitter. To do so, you must:  Listen, respond, and retweet to your fans. Also, do not forget to continuously provide them with rich content that they can retweet.

Supporting with twitter: we all know how influential Twitter users could be! If you decide to create a twitter account for your company, make sure you are ready to respond at the time. You cannot leave people with no answers or else they will tweet about you in an undesirable way.

Embracing with twitter: we already know that this is a hard objective to fulfill, but let me tell you: it is even harder to do through Twitter. This is due to the setup of Twitter where you are expected to communicate with your followers using 140 characters at a time.  However, one of the best ways to embrace your tweeting customers is to engage in a dialogue.

Are you planning to be active on Twitter? Here are some lessons:

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Lock up your handle: Twitter has a “verified account” program to identify brands and individuals real accounts. Thus, make sure your account is verified and that no one can snap up your Twitter handle.

Listen first: do you already notice how much emphasis we place on listening? It is really crucial to discover what people are tweeting about you before you enter the twitter world.

Be ready to support: people on twitter are expecting you to listen as they complain and support them. Remember, people do not care about your objective, they want to be heard.

Follow others: don’t be scared to reach out to people and follow as many as possible. It means a lot for them.

Be ready for a crisis: when something goes wrong in the company people will immediately turn to your Twitter account for information. Thus, you need a plan to allow your PR people to turn the Twitter handle into an information channel (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 210)

Respond, retweet, and link: an effective Twitter account is one that does all functions of the rich Twitter experience.  Utilize the available tool to best benefit your company.  Respond to tweets, retweet things that matter to you, provide links to materials that your followers might find interesting.

Staff it: there is nothing wrong with turning tweeting into a part of somebody’s job. In fact, it is essential because an unauthorized Twitter account could be risky.

Check with legal and regulatory staff: as I mentioned above, Twitter is a public platform where anyone can post anything. But do not forget that also anyone can search it. So, make sure you don’t post inappropriate materials on your account.

Having gathered a following, don’t waste it! Just think about it. You no longer need to spend excessive amount of money and time to attract followers. Twitter made it so easy for you where you can gather thousands of followers with a short time period. Thus, when you create an account for a specific objective make sure you also create a plan for what to do once you reach your objective.

Remember: Twitter is really powerful, and people using it are really influential so don’t miss on this opportunity.

Here is my Twitter account:  @elsafadi_hanan   feel free to follow me and happy tweeting.

References:

Dragon, R.  (2013, February 7). The Twitter ecosystem [Image]. Retrieved from http://marketingland.com/the-twitter-ecosystem-32200

Dunn, K. ( 2015, April 25). These 8 tips will seriously help you get more out of Twitter. Retrieved from http://dailygenius.com/get-more-out-of-twitter/

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. massachusetts, boston, united states of america: forrester research, inc.

 

 

Helping the Groundswell Support Itself

 

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 There are two types of support: traditional and groundswell support.

The traditional approach consists of two forms that are used to support customers. First, companies would direct their customers to their Web sites for product and problem-solving information. Second, companies outsourced- moved support calls overseas. Although these forms allow companies to save money, people tend to get frustrated with the long waits, unguaranteed quality, and unavoidable paperwork that each of the forms would require.

The new support applications include a wide variety of forums work. For example, there is the iRobot which is used for its robot vacuum cleaners to solve problems. Another application is the FICO, which allows people to help each other understand the ins and out of credit scores. However, these applications are not about saving money; instead, they offer many benefits that outweighs the cost.

So is wiki right for you?

The answer is simple. If you think that your customers are willing to share in common collection of information, then you should look into creating one. Once you start it and get it going, customers will stay active and engaged. But then again, nothing comes without a risk. The only difference is that wiki’s potential risks are greater than you think.  The risk is in getting them going, because they are way harder than support forums! If you decide that wiki is the right form for your business, then here are some tips for a successful one:

  • People: Find people with a common interest in contributing, and connect with some of those active participants in your customer base, then invite them to help you start it.
  • Content: although you can expect the wiki to grow and evolve, but it still needs a pretty substantial seed crystals to get started. So, keep in mind that it take a lot more content to get a wiki off the ground compared to a discussion forum.
  • Patience and policy: the rules of you wiki should be clear and balanced. Also, relate and think of the wiki as it belong to you and your customers.

 forum-510-picl

How about, helping the groundswell support itself?

Should that be an option? Let me tell you: if your concern just about saving money, then do not bother. But if your vision includes moving all you customers online and lay off those support reps then do not hesitate. Doing so, will allow you to help your customers support each other, which, in return, makes them happier, save money, and generate insights.

Did I convince you? Cool, now here are some aspects that you need to consider before starting:

  • What problem is your support activity trying to solve? Think of what seems to be your customers’ biggest issue.
  • Groundswell support needs your participation. Support communities need activities, because they create traffic and links, which increases search engine placement.
  • Why build it if you can join it? Check whether there is an existing community for your customers. As a matter of fact, the members of those already-created communities are dying to hear from you, so why not connecting to them?

Did you decided to go ahead and build a community for support? Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

  1. Start small, but expect a bigger presence: many companies have multiple product lines, so they think that they have to do it all at one. However, the best way is to start small maybe with one product. Only when you learn what works for your customers you can start expanding.
  2. Reach out to your most active customers: find the enthusiasts group of you customers to participate. These particular customers will become the most important in your online community. Thus, you must ensure you keep their support and enthusiasm.
  3. Plan to drive traffic to your community: be sure that if you do not advertise your product or service, no one will know about it. So, advertise on site where your customers shop.
  4. Build on a reputation system: allow the participants to build up a good reputation as this will drive more participants to join your community.
  5. Let your customers lead you: having customer is really all you need to direct your company. They will tell you what to do and not do. So pay attention to what they tell you.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 174-175)

What does it add to your company?

When you participate in community forums, your forum will become a place for customers to talk about everything. And by everything I really mean everything (products, usage, pricing, competitors, salespeople, new products, stocks even your logo, labor and factories). You should think of this as an opportunity where you are directly obtaining all the information and data you need to enhance sales and marketing.   

Can you think of a company that has a great community support? take a look at the one that Sony has Playstation Community

References:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Massachusetts, Boston, United States of America: Forrester Research, Inc.

Nissan (n.d). Community support. [Image]. Retrieved from http://pictures.dealer.com/j/jenkinsnissan/1481/5a2f536cfc01a41ba5eb62755103a742x.jpg

 

WordPress. (n.d). Helping the groundswell support itself. [Cartoon]. Retrieved from

https://artieprabhakar.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/forum-510-picl.jpg

 

 

Talking with the Groundswell

 

online-communities

Talking with the groundswell is different from marketing:

Marketing: there are two main methods used in marketing, advertising and public relations. Advertising is measured by the number of people reached and the frequency. On the other hand, public relations aims at exposures in free media. Here is the marketing funnel that describes how consumers march down the path from awareness to purchase and loyalty.

funnel

The stages in the funnel include awareness, consideration, preferences, action and loyalty. Shouting (Advertising) gathers buyers at the big end of the funnel. While activities in the middle try to pull them down to the purchase. If you are lucky they come out the other end as customers. However, a 2007 report from Forrester analysis confirmed that the funnel has outlived its purpose in the business world and has been replaced by social technographics profile “‘Face it: marketers no longer dictate the path people take, nor do they lead the dialogue. Once people are aware of your product, a new dynamic kicks in: people learning from each other” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 102). Nowadays, customers in the middle are engaged in the conversations on blogs, discussion forms, and social networks. Your company can get engaged in these areas, but don’t forget that shouting doesn’t work. Conversations do.

Techniques for talking with the groundswell:

There are a lot of techniques used to talking with the groundswell, but here are the most effective ones:

  1. Post a viral video– posting an interesting video online. One that viewers would want to share. If people are unaware of your company, viral videos can help in brand recognition.
  2. Engage in social networks and user-generated content sites– This approach helps the company create a personality within the social networking sites. Thus it is used to expand the brand reach. Although this might be viewed as one of the cheapest and simplest ways. Yet, companies might find it challenging to creating and maintaining conversations
  3. Join the blogosphere– companies can empower executive and staff to join the blogosphere. Not only by writing blogs, but also by listening and responding to other blogs.
  1. Creating a community– this is a powerful technique of delivering the message to your customers and creating a continuous engagement. Once they are engaged, they will help spread the word.

Branding on social networks isn’t for everyone.  Here are some advises on deciding whether you should use social networking to talk with your potential customers:

   Use Social Technograghics Profile: using this tool helps you verify that your potential customers are present online.  If around half of your target are joiners then it makes sense to create a Facebook or Twitter account. Keep in mind that age makes a lot of difference.

   Move forward if people love your brand: if your brand is loved and you have loyal customer who would friend you than you can move to the next step.

   See what’s out there already: some brand already has pages and networks even before the company gets involved. They are usually created by fans of the brand.  This should be viewed as a bonus to encourage the company to create their own page.

   Create a presence that encourages interaction: your fans want to connect with you through the social network you created. Pay attention to what are you providing them that would keep them engaged. Once that is done, they will spread your message.

 

Keep in mind: no matter what your company does, who it sells to, or what parts of the world you do business in, people are blogging about your product.

Tips for successful blogging:

Before you even start your blog, you should “want” to be engaged in dialogue with you customers. This is because blogging requires effort and commitment. Another prerequisite is knowing whom you want to reach (people) and exactly what you want to achieve (objective). Once you are at this stage, here are some suggestions for starting the dialogue:

  1. Start by listening: listening to what is going on out there before you join. This will give you a better understating of what customers are looking for and how to engage with them. You can do so by monitoring competitor’s blogs site.
  2. Determine a goal for the blog: this give you a better focus as to where you want to go and how are you planning to utilize the blog.
  3. Estimate the ROL: determine how the blog is going to pay off and how much it costs.
  4. Develop a plan: determine how many authors are going to be blogging and who has the right to blog.
  5. Rehearse: writing a few practice blogs gives you an idea of what topics can be covered in the future and what should be changed.
  6. Develop an editorial process: figure out someone who is willing to go over the blogs is always a good idea. Also, ensure a backup person to review the blogs in case the other ones are not available.
  7. Designed the blog and its connection to your site: decide whether you should feature the blog on the company’s website. If so, how would you design it?
  8. Develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog: it is a good idea to start with traditional marketing methods to point people in the direction of your blogs. You may also want to buy words on search engines.
  9. Remember, the blogging is more than writing: it not only about writing you should also monitor the blogosphere and responding to the content out there.
  10. Final advice: be honest: blogs are not like any other networks. Here people are expected to be real. Talk about both the bad and good to boost your credibility.

 

Which of the four ways of talking to the groundswell works for you?

The decision is based on what your communication problem is, which, in turn, based on what your customers are doing in the middle of the funnel. Here is a match of each problem to its appropriate technique:

  • Awareness problem: this is when people don’t know about your company or brand. For this, the viral videos are the best choice, but remember it is not as easy because you need a unique idea to get people engaged.
  • Word-of-mouth problem: this is when people lack communication and you cannot spread the message through them. For this, social networks are the best choice.
  • Complexity problem: this is when your company have a complicated message to communicate. For example, multiple set of of customers, complex products or services. For this issue, blogging would be the best choice. This is because it helps with consideration and reassure people before, during and after the sale.
  • Accessibility problem: this describes a situation where you customers are buried deep in the funnel where you can’t reach them at all. For this issue, creating a community.

 

Have you figured out what your problem is? And which technique you need to successfully talk to the groundswell? Share your thoughts with me …

 

 References:

Google. (n.d). Marketing funnel [Diagram]. Retrieved from: http://marketing-made-simple.com/static/images/articles/purchase-funnel/forester-purchase-funnel.gif

Google. (n.d). Talking to the groundswell [image]. Retrieved from: https://goo.gl/images/r7xfRT

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. massachusetts, boston, united states of america: forrester research, inc.

 

 

Strategies for tapping the groundswell

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Do you feel the need to be involved in the groundswell? You are sure that your company has to be there but you don’t really know why? Or, are you nervous about moving forward? If the answers to these question were all “yes” then you should be aware of your “groundswell approach-avoidance syndrome”. Feeling unconvinced? Check out the symptoms for this problem:

  • Obsessive interest in the blogosphere and online doings
  • Checking the megablogs multiple times per day and feeling helpless
  • Getting nervous about answering superior’s questions about the company online strategy
  • Experiencing anxiety coming from participating/not dilemma

 

Do not worry…every illness has causes and treatments. Let’s explore it all:

Problem: Owners/managers are doing it all backwards, because they start at thinking about technology. Why is that wrong? Because chasing technology is almost impossible.

Cure: the solution to this syndrome is using the POST planning process, which is considered the basis of groundswell thinking.

pic-for-post-1

POST: this systematic framework allows firms to assemble their plans by asking questions that triggers some analysis.

People: this step focuses on finding out what your customers are already involved in or ready to participate in.  One of the tools used at this step is the social technographics profiles that I have talked about in a previous blog. Furthermore, companies must assess customer’s preferred ways of engaging and communicating.

Objective: this is about the goals and vision of using groundswell to communicate with customers. Find out what are you goals of talking to with the groundswell. Different users have different goals. One could be for marketing purposes or increasing sales.  Or did you even think of using it internally? For example, to help your employees perform more efficiently working as teams.

Strategy: this step is done by questioning how you would want relationships with customer to change. Thus, figure out what are you looking for in those relationships. Do you want them to become more engaged with you company?

Technology: once you decide on all 3 previous elements (people, objectives and strategy) it is time to select the suitable technologies and application that you should build. For example, does wiki, blogs, or social networks fit in your strategy and aid you with achieving your objective?

Still unsure about picking an objective to pursue in the groundswell? Here are five primary objectives that companies should choose from depending on which one best matches the overall objective of the company:

  1. Listening: use groundswell as a tool of research to understand you customers.
  2. Talking: use groundswell as a marketing tool to help spread awareness about your company or product/service.
  3. Energizing: use groundswell to obtain the power of word of mouth that could be achieved by reaching out to your most enthusiastic customers.
  4. Supporting: use groundswell as means of allowing customers to support each other.
  5. Embracing: use groundswell to better integrate the customers’ expectations and demand into the business process.

Here is a table to explain how these objectives are linked to the specific functions in a company:

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So now that we understand the usage of groundswell in a business-to-consumer process, how about the business-to-business aspect?

Although it seems harder for business-to-business companies to improve in pursuing the groundswell because only very few applications are designed for business-to-business purposes. However, businesses should keep in mind that the other business that they are trying to target are formed out of people too! In other words, those people that you are aiming to engage with are ones with a parallel role within their companies- such as, salespeople, IT professional and buyers. Thus, even in this case the key element for companies would still be picking a clear objective.
Okay, so now that we have an objective, how do we form a strategy?

If you are at a stage where you have acquired the right focus “relationships”  and well aware of the POST process, then here are some advises that would help with forming a strategy;

  • It is okay to create a small plan to start with but make sure it has room to grow and build on.
  • Make sure to consider the consequences of your strategy and any issues that may arise from adopting one, before the plan is complete.
  • Place the right person to be in charge of it, such as an executive who reports on the transformation to the CEO.
  • Be careful in selecting your technology and agency partners. Look for people who have experience and understand your own brand.

So following the provided steps and advice can guarantee you success?

Not if you are not aware of the challenges and things that could go wrong. The most common failures relate to the POST process, as companies fail to asses people’s tendencies, define their objectives, underestimate thinking through a strategy, and implementing poor technology. Since the groundswell is not under our control, things will go wrong.  To fix them up, visit POST process again and diagnose the reasons of failing.

One might think “Can we just avoid the whole groundswell thing”?

Unfortunately, we cannot ignore this trend or stop it. You may choose to engage slowly or fast, but you still have to move forward in order to stay in the competition. With that said, keep in mind that there is no right way of engaging with the groundswell. As each company should select the tactics that best suits their customers, product, and practices.

References:

WordPress. (2013, March 6). Step planning process. [Diagram]. Retrieved from: https://neeruvana.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/post.jpg?w=300&h=233

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. massachusetts, boston, united states of america: forrester research, inc.

Social Media strategy by Forrester. 5 goals for social are: listening, talking, energize, support and embracing. [Image]. Retrieved from: https://goo.gl/images/rFv6BN

 

How connecting with the groundswell transform your company?

Looking for an answer? You got it!!!

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So far we learned that one of the benefits of engaging in groundswell is that the organization becomes very well connected with their customers which enables them to stay in touch with their demands. In order to achieve this transformation there are three critical elements:

  1. Step by step: one should realize that such a shift requires time and practice. As well as, building a repertoire of shared success. Doing thing slowly will give employees a chance to modify their concept of how things should be done.
  2. Plan and vision: creating a clear vision of where you want the company to be results in strong foundation to start from. The, the company could start moving to next level of groundswell thinking.
  3. Executive support: for your efforts to be seen and considered in the organization, you should have a strategy of selling someone in the upper management on groundswell thinking.

At this point, it may sound easy to you to lock in the customers at the center of your organization. But let me prove you wrong with the following real life examples!

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Unilever (Dove): to let go of controlling the brand message and wining over the groundswell, Dove climbed the steps one by one. First, they took a big risk of changing the message and the way they delivered it to consumers. After doing research on the new message, they chose traditional channels like TV and outdoor ads to advertise it. Next step was to work with NBC reality television show “The Apprentice” where teams created ads for a new Dove product. As a result, the product generated strong sales. Stepping forward, Dove created a set of Web- based videos to lunch a new product line. Full-fledged television, print, and online portal campaigns were used to raise awareness of the company’s website. The next step was to build executive support. This was done by the media director of all Unilever brands who provided the executive support to spread ideas of innovative ways to integrate digital technologies into media plans.

That was a successful story of connecting to groundswell, however, it’s not all about successful stories. In many cases, companies fail to realize that even if they have a clear vision of what the company needs to do, getting the company to embrace the groundswell does not happen with a day.

Other companies had to go through hell as they were transforming the groundswell thinking!

Dell: it took Dell a crisis or two to get the process started. It wasn’t an easy one!! The key strategy that saved Dell was the fact that they mastered one thing at a time, starting with listening.  They went from listening to blog, to solving bloggers’ issues, to blogging themselves, to IdeaStorm and that’s how they saved themselves. Of course, they would have not done it without obtaining the executive push and cover. Top level gave the support needed to break down departmental silos and change processes to get things done. Last but not least, Dell had to admit its flaws to achieve their vision. In other words, the blog started getting value only when Dell started to deal with their issues such as the flaming notebook.

Tip of the day:

If you are planning to take your company to next level of using groundswell, there are 5 tips you should keep in mind:

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References:

Google (n.d). Social connection. [Image]. Retrieved from https://www.google.ca/search?q=How+connecting+with+the+groundswell+transform+your+company%3F&espv=2&biw=878&bih=873&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjdloKVyODPAhUrrVQKHcslClUQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=UZJCfwEhmUqKhM%3A

Google (n.d). Social power. [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.sopwr.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Email.gif

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. massachusetts, boston, united states of america: forrester research, inc

 

Listening to the Groundswell…whattt?!!

 

social-media-listening-tools

 

Does the title sound a little off to you? No worries, let me walk you through this ..

  • Questions to ask yourself:

Who decides what your brand is?

In fact, your brand is whatever your customers say it is. Furthermore, customers decide on it via the groundswell where they have a free space to communicate with each other and present their opinion. Oh yeah… brands belong to customers not companies. So, if we agree on this point, then how do you find out what your customers think of the brand you are offering them? Listening is the answer..

What do we mean by listening?

Listening is not only essential for the success of a company, its also expensive. Are you confused? Don’t be… its just called market research. Although companies invest in Syndicated research but that’s not enough because it doesn’t tell you what people are thinking. Some of you might say well how about surveys? Well designed surveys will answer any question you need, but they can’t tell you what are the things that you did not think of. And who knows whether you thought of the most important points or you missed some?  Thus, those tools are created to answer questions, not to dive into customers perceptions. With that said, consumers in the groundswell are providing organizations with tips based on their opinions on daily basis.

Is there strategies for listening?

Listening is important, but keep in mind there are two main problems that could face companies. First, do not expect to hear from everybody because not everybody is welling to share their experience or thoughts. Second, once you decided to open the platform for consumers to share their opinion you will end up with huge volume of information. And that is the company’s responsibility to makes sense off the flowing information by:

  1. Setting up your own private community: this symbolizes a continuous running, huge, engaged focus group for interconnecting..
  2. Begin brand monitoring: this is done by hiring a third part to listen to blogs, discussion forms, Twitter… then report the results to you

Okay, so we know what listening is and how its is done. Problem solved?

Of course NOTT, because listening by itself is sterile, to make value out of it, companies need to act on what they learned from the listening process.

What are the benefits that listening brings to you?

Listening is one of the most important skills that a company should acquire and maintain. Given groundswell, listening has become easy. On the other hand, choosing to ignore this skill could be threatening. Here are some reasons for your company to start listening:

  1. Find out what your brand stands for
  2. Understand how the buzz is shifting
  3. Save research money; increase responsiveness
  4. Find sources of influence in market
  5. Mange PR crisis
  6. Generate new ideas

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How do I set a listening plan?

Note that the starting point for listening is generally the research/marketing department. However, eventually, it will become part of everyone responsibilities. Here is what to include in your plan:

  1. Check the social technographics profile of customers
  2. Start small, think big
  3. Ensure listening vendor has a dedicated team
  4. Have a senior person interpreting information

 

How listening will change your organization?

Once you begin to listen and utilize the gathered information, you will see the change in your company. The change is mostly presented in:

  1. The power structure of your organization. The department that is in charge of listening will become central to how decisions are made.
  2. The instant availability of information. The information coming from customers will become addicting to companies since its used to integrate the results into corporate decision making.
  3. It is no-more-being-stupid factor. This is because when customers are given the chance to to complain it makes it hard for organizations to overlook their mistakes. Thus ,stupid policies/products will vanish when faced with highly visible customer feedback.
  4. Listening wont be enough. While listening is a great deal of having conversations, every conversation needs talking as well.

Hopefully some of you will find this helpful, or can at least relate.  If you have anything to share regarding this topic “Listening”, please go ahead and talk because i will be…..LISTENING. download

 

References

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. massachusetts, boston, united states of america: forrester research, inc.

WordPress. (2015, February 19). Listening to the groundwell. . [Image] Retrieved from https://www.google.ca/search?q=listening+to+the+groundswell&espv=2&biw=1920&bih=950&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiP1PHA0ODPAhUK0WMKHSYWA6sQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=k2MrpbGqLmImDM%3A

WordPress. (2015, February 19). Listening to the groundwell. [Image] Retrieved from https://janestalord.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/smm_bg2.png

 

Is There a Certain Technique for Your Business to Leverage Social Media? (Hint: it’s not about having an account)

 

Hey friends! happy-face-with-laptop

So, this week I got a chance to read an interesting topic from the Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. This could be helpful for those of you who own a business and wondering how to market their product/service. Also for anyone who wonders how do they get targeted by business to buy their products.

target-socia-media-content-by-using-social-technographics1

Here is a quick summary of the main statements:

Being active on Social Media pays only when a business focuses on the relationships, not the technologies. Furthermore, to understand and create these relations, one must realize that a strategy that treats everyone alike well result in failure because people aren’t alike and won’t respond in a similar way. Thus, the Social Technographic Profile- method used for grouping people according to the groundswell activities that they participate in- is introduced.

Oh!!!! So a marketing department of a business actually follows a technique for Social Media presence!!  ……… here are some of the tools:

 

  • Social Technographics Ladder:

This tool represents different groups of social media users. Where each step of the ladder signifies a different category of consumers based on the type of activities and how often they are active.

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Note that while the ladder tells you what’s possible with your customer, it doesn’t tell you if they’re open to connecting with your company.

So, why do we care about classifications? To answer this, authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff stated “…But the real power in the Social Technographics Profile is this: with it we can understand how social technologies are being adopted by any group of people. If that group happens to be your customers, you can use their Social Technographics Profile to build an appropriate social strategy” (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

  • Social Technographics Profile:

It is a term used to define a market research analysis tool used to classify the characteristics and behaviors of consumers through the process of market segmentation. Down below is an example of a profile that have been developed and applied to varying demographics of people.

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What does it tell us?

  • Helps businesses determine where their target customers fit into the equation
  • Saves owners/managers from investing on the wrong features
  • Identifies new niche to reach out to
  • Takes in consideration that people from different countries use social media differently, yet the desire to connect, create, stay in touch and help is universal.
  • Tell us that even when the participation of a certain group is low, there are still opportunities for a business.
  • Indicated which platform would be best to use in order to reach desired customers.
  • Different age ranges are present on social media in different ways.
  • Makes decision of how/who to target clear by providing the option of compares two variables

Why do people participate in the groundswell?

You may find this question hard to answer because there are so many different yet right answers to it. However, the fundamental reason that justifies our drive to be social is the need to connect. With that being said, the reasons may vary such as: keeping up friendships, making new friends, the altruistic impulse, the creative impulse… and list goes on. Nevertheless, the importance of such analysis doesn’t lie in the users motivations, instead, it is in finding the levers that a business can pull to get their customers and employees to participate in the business.  (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Let’s us apply this to a real life example:

Assume that my manager at Le Chateau asked me to help her to figure out which Social Media platforms to focus on. As o mentioned before: “Based on the strategies that the store follows as well as the products they sell, I believe that they target both men and women at the age of 25-50”

So the variables are: Age (25-50), Gender (male and female), Country (Canada). Le Chateau would have to focus on Spectators and Joiners in order to reach the desirable potential customers. Thus, they would have to be involved in platforms such as  YouTube, Twitter.

 

 

Take away:

To build a successful communication tool via social media you need to understand your audience’s Social Media behaviors and preferences. Thus, using Social Tchnographices Profile is worth the while. “Technographics’ exhaustive data and exceptional service, combined with frameworks such as Social and Mobile Technographics, is helping me save time, stimulate innovation, and sustain our competitive advantage.” Dan Rubin (Executive Director, Digital Strategy, Meredith Xcelerated Marketing).

 

Reflection:

I found this tool interesting to use and could be very beneficial to businesses as it saves them time and money while they looking for their potential customers. how about you? Have you ever used Social Technographics  Profile in your content planning?

 

References: 

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Massachusetts, Boston, United States of America: Forrester Research, Inc.

Benoff J. (2010, January 15). Introducing the New Social Technographics. Retrieved from https://gourmetculinaryinstituteandsingles.wikispaces.com/file/view/Forrester+-011510-+introducing+technographics.pdf

Vitrical measures. (2012, August 14).  Target Social Media Content by Using Social Technographics.[image] Retrieved from http://www.verticalmeasures.com/social-media/target-social-media-content-social-technographics/

Do you Really Know What Social Media is?

 

Hello Bloggers!

As a business student and someone who is heavily engaged with social media I have enjoyed reading a relatable article that some of you may be interested to know about. This well written article is “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media” written by Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haenlein. Although I would recommend reading the full article as I will be providing resource, yet I will be providing a summary of what I thought to be the key points.

Full article available at:

www.sciencedirect.com

http://www.slideshare.net/escpexchange/kaplan-haenlein-users-of-the-world-unite-the-challenges-and-opportunities-of-social-media

Summary:

The author starts this article by discussing the Social Media usage revolution from the perspective of companies. Thus, historically companies were able to control the kind of information available online about them. However, nowadays they have little or no control over the information that can be posted and shared. To better understand the rapid evolution of Social Media and its effects on business the author provides a definition of it. According to the author, social media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content. One issue in identifying Social Media is the misunderstanding of what could be included under this term, and how does it differ from the Web 2.0 and User Generated Content concepts. For further clarification, the authors label Web 2.0 as a new way in which software developers and end-users started to utilize the World Wide Web. That means the content and applications are not restricted to the use of individuals, but instead all users. While, UGC is the sum of all ways in which people make use of Social Media. There are three characteristics of UGC: (access to public, creative effort and not limited by professional practices). To classify platforms of social media one can use two categories being: media research (social presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure).  Where, Social presence is about how much contact users can achieve. Media richness theory is about effectiveness. Self-presentation is about the image a user desire to represent. Self- disclosure is about the personal information such as feelings and thoughts. Then the author provides the reader six challenges/benefits to companies using social media.  For example, Collaborative projects allows end-users to easily create content. However, firms must be aware of what king of information is available (bad/damaging) since collaborative projects are becoming the main source of information for many consumers. Although blogs can be an effective tool to update employees, customers, and shareholders on new changes. Yet, there is a risk of using Blog to spread damaging information by dissatisfied customers or staff. On the other hand, content communities has a benefit of sharing of media content between users as it includes a wide range of different media types( text, photos, video and PowerPoints). But then, content communities could be risky if used for the sharing of what is supposed to copyright-protected materials. As for social networking sites, companies can use them to aid in the process of creating brand communities, for marketing research or even used as distribution channels. Lastly, the author concludes with some advice for companies to set guidelines that can be applied to any form of Social Media, whether they are part of them or not. Tips for using Social Media such as: choosing the suitable platform carefully, deciding whether it better to make or buy your application, ensuring activity alignment between all used platforms, integrating Social Media and traditional media, and  providing access for everyone. While tips for being social on those platforms included being active, interesting, humble, honest and unprofessional. In their conclusion, the authors predicted that the Mobile Social Media being the future key for Internet democratization and connecting the developed and emerging countries.

social-media

So, what did this article bring new to the table of discussion and creative insights? I mean, we all know what social media is and how it is used by almost every single company out there! In fact, isn’t social media what connects us to those firms and tells us about their products/services? Isn’t through your Instagram you figured out about this new makeup palette or latest watch?

But, with full honesty, did we all know what social media really is? Well, talking about myself… the first thing that pops to my mind when someone says social Media is a little voice in my head saying “oh! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram”. Yeah, no it is way deeper than this definition. Did you even know that social media platforms fall under different categories?

I loved how this article narrowed down the definition of Social Media but yet made it clear and logical. This is done by stating: “In our view–—and as used herein–—Social Media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content”. I find it very interesting how the authors combined the Web 2.0 and UGC together in defining Social Media. Also, the fact that Social Media concept is not really new anymore as it probably started about 20 years earlier. It is been around for a long time but with a different name and form! Yup we are not the generation of Social Media !!!

But here is what shocked me the most, Social Media has different Categories! and NO it is not only based on either being a platform where you can write something or inserting photos. It has more than this to it:

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The authors provide us with a systematic method to form a classification structure. This structure we relies on the two key elements of Social Media a set of theories in the field of media research (social presence, media richness) and social processes (self-presentation, self-disclosure). So, putting this into simpler words the categories depends on the way the platform is used. If it used for media research than it is about how strongly the firm is being present on platform and how effective its used to enhance communication and avoid uncertainty. While, if it is used for the purpose of social process. Then it is about being an open stage where people can reflect either their ideas or personal feelings.

Lastly, one of the key points that I could relate to as future business professional who must be using Social Media, is the positive and negatives of it. the authors made it clear that depending on how a firm chooses to use Social Media and manage it will draw a bath of either success or failure. Companies should be aware of the type of information that is being published to the public. whether a firm decided to be engaged and a part of Social Media or not it will be effected by the feedback that is provided by customers or staff.

There are tons of great points made by the authors. personally, i have gained a new perspective on Social Media usage. How about you?

References:

Haenlein, M., & Kaplan, A.M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons (53) 59-68.