Helping the Groundswell Support Itself

Hello everyone,

Another day, another groundswell discussion. Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (available for purchase here) had us look at the POST method – for tapping into the groundswell, and building a groundswell strategy that supports company objectives, and we looked at some of the five specific objectives. We’ve expanded on listening and talking in some of my other blog posts – get your refresher course by clicking the hyperlink over the respective words). And we’ve made it this far together (hopefully) so let’s keep trucking and look at supporting.

Discovering your objectives is the heart of the POST process – your reason to enter the groundswell. And you may discover your primary goals and objective is supporting – having an objective to use groundswell activity to help your customers support each other. Enabling customers to support each other can free up time and money for your company, build a loyal community, and even generate new solutions to issues (free of charge!). The groundswell can become a fantastic support system, both for individuals and organizations.

Ah customer support, it’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. We’ve all been there, the dreaded customer support line whether in-store, over-the-phone, and online. The support you receive can make or break your loyalty, your attitude, or even your day! Share some of the best/worst/memorable support moments down below in the comments. But companies do worry about supporting their customer, clients, and members. And they spend thousands, millions, TRILLIONS (okay..maybe not that much) in support services. These costs have driven the shift to offering support services online. And through the magic of the groundswell fairies it has evolved into people supporting each other.

One man, Jeff Stenksi, roughly saved Dell over one-million dollars in support calls by dedicating a lot of hours to answering technical questions on Dell’s support forum (Bernoff & Li, 2011). That’s the groundswell benefiting Dell. A few more tech-savvy people like Jeff? And Dell has saved huge amounts of time and money. The groundswell can provide the power of thousands for support, generating much more than a single support representative ever could.

Now if I didn’t blog about the Groundswell so much, you bet your bottom dollar I’d be blogging about television. Survivor, Big Brother, Dr.Phil, Walking Dead, it’s beyond casual watching. I’m on all the blogs, Jeff Probst Q&A boards, recaps, forums, etc. All these discussions don’t tame my passion, they energize it.(shoutout to my main survivor commenters!) And they get me more excited, delving further into fan theories and sharing them among family and friends. These fans can generate ‘buzz’ whether it’s for Sunday night zombie shows or the Apple iPhone. 

Bernoff & Li (2011) remind us to examine three things prior to using the groundswell to achieve support objectives.

  • What problem is your support activity trying to solve? Using support tools such as forums, wikis, etc become more powerful when it taps into the problems/topics people tend to talk about the most.
  • Can you participate? Creating support in the groundswell is good, but it needs your participation, management, and monitor to succeed. Active work to drive traffic and attention to your groundswell support system is critical to sustain the community. Participating in conversations, through answers or generating new content may also be critical in the beginning before the groundswell slowly  can take over to create a self-running support community.
  • Why build if you can join? Is there an existing community for your consumers? Maybe you can join it, sponsor it or form a relationship.

Here at NAIT, the Facebook page ‘TBH Nait’ has created an informal student-driven community. Daily frustrations, questions, problems, or experiences are posted anonymously, allowing commenters that usually consist of NAIT students. While yes, some posts can be ‘trolling’ or immature, some posts of support under comments of students feeling pressured also shows me the positive of the online community. Knowing your fellow students share the elevator frustrations, or are feeling the pressure of finals help many keep motivation going. Recently, the NAIT Nugget newspaper made the TBH Nait its cover story. This shows NAIT acknowledging this community they did not create themselves, and that story garnered attention,traffic, and new followers (along with their new support) back to the Facebook page.

support1Source: TBH NAIT-Facebook. Retrieved from here

Using the groundswell as an advantage is everywhere people!

What communities are you a part of? Do you use them for support, knowledge, ideas? Are you a tad obsessed with scrolling through Yahoo! Answers like I am? Let me know down in the comments!

Thanks people!




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

Featured Image: Business support. Retrieved from here.


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