Energizing the Groundswell

Hello everyone,

If you’ve taken time to meet me here this week I thank you. I know how busy December is for everyone including myself! Between wrapping up classes, studying for finals, job hunting, working, and having Christmas cheer my days are pretty much booked up! Hoping I can do all my Christmas shopping in one trip. Impossible you say? We shall see. Have you seen the malls this time of year? Where do all these people come from at all hours? The crowds get to me, so I’ll try my best to get in and out quick (wish me luck down in the comments).

But in between the hustle and bustle I wanted to bring you guys another Chapter from Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li’s book, Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies (available for purchase here). Now think back to the POST method and the five objectives we looked at (refresher course here): Listening, talking, supporting, energizing, and embracing. Next stop: Energizing! Energizing focuses on creating an environment for enthusiastic customers to create buzz around your product/service, or organization. A loyal customers word of mouth can create value equal to marketing efforts. Have you ever witnessed an Apple vs. Android user debate? I have, and it can get pretty heated. Yet it shows the passion these users have, and willingly share via word of mouth, or via online through posts, comments, reviews, etc. And these communications can help businesses track their ROI on social media based on set objectives.

Bernoff & Li (2011) outlines three basic techniques to connecting with and energizing enthusiastic consumers. First, tap into customers’ enthusiasms with ratings and reviews (Bernoff & Li, 2011, p. 134). Allowing ratings and reviews creates an environment where people can depend on each other, and helps the groundswell support itself (yes yes.. there’s a blog about that too, here). It eases insecurities consumers may have from not being able to see or touch products and services prior to online purchases (Bernoff & Li, 2011, p.136). Ratings and reviews can help businesses identify trends and can measure return on satisfaction, purchases, etc.
Second, create a community to energize consumers (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Passionate consumers willing to talk to one another can benefit by a business provided outlet to share information, generate content/comments, and discuss topics. These consumers can energize each other, without much interference from the business itself. The business can enter the community to reinforce positive behaviour, encourage new customers, and generate content.
Third, participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Maybe your enthusiasts have already gathered someone online. Offline, in my town, I’m pretty sure almost every Jeep owner in the town meet at a local Tim Hortons. Now let’s say Jeep employees roll up there, and meet with these consumers. They are now able to receive valuable information that can be used for marketing purposes from real consumers, and provide news, information, etc. regarding their products. And you didn’t even have to round them all up for a boring focus group! Similar with online, the people have already been brought together, creating low cost solutions for businesses looking to energize their enthusiasts.


Basically the Tim Hortons parking lot every Saturday (not actual photo). Retrieved from here.

The authors note that energizing is more powerful and riskier than techniques discussed in  listening and talking. Companies can energize consumers to talk, but must be prepared for what they are actually going to say. Bernoff and Li (2011) outline 5 steps for applying energizing techniques.

  1. Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell: Seems logical enough right? If your company doesn’t produce what people are talking about – maybe you produce copier paper, there may not be enough people to energize around your product. Strong brands, or brands pursuing emotional connections to consumers are ideal for energizing techniques.
  2. Check the social technographics profile of customers: Ah yes, the good ol’ STP. I get excited when my blogs reach full circle and can be connected to each other. If your target market isn’t participating in the groundswell, it’s extra difficult to energize them.
  3. “What is my customer’s problem?”: And don’t read that in a sarcastic way. Really look from the consumers perspective at their issues both large and small, and how your community can help consumers receive support and information.
  4. Pick strategy that fits both your customers’ STP and problems: If there is a strong critic market in the STP, rating and reviews make sense. Research any existing communities dealing with similar issues or create your own.
  5. In it for the long haul: Yep, you’re probably stuck with your community once it’s created and growing. It requires continual review and adjustment to keep things relevant and exciting.
    (Bernoff & Li, 2011, p. 148-149)

Energized communities can bring referrals, profit, opportunities, etc. to your business. But an energized community must be listened to and acted on in order to survive and grow. People can now influence each other, and providing a platform to not only allow, but energize this influence must have company-wide commitment to the groundswell thinking and the benefits achieved.

As always, leave a comment below. Follow me on Twitter @taylorkyrzyk. And if I don’t see you until after your holidays, ENJOY!




Featured Image: Get customers excited…(March 2015). Retrieved from here.

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


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