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.


Talking with the Groundswell

Hello everyone,

Last week we went through the major process identified in Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (available for purchase here). Remember the POST process and its objectives? (It’s been a long week and I forgive you, review it here). Well we already looked at the objective listening (previous blog here), and now we’re looking at talking. This tactic uses the groundswell to spread messages online. Marketing has been largely aimed with talking at their market, talking to the groundswell is aimed at talking with, by creating and encouraging two-way discussion.

The figure at the top of the screen shows a traditional marketing funnel. A funnel that herds consumers down a path from awareness to purchase and loyalty (Bernoff & Li, 2011). However, the authors note that the groundswell is changing this traditional process. A shift in consumerism has marketers no longer dictating the paths of consumers. People are learning from each other, through the groundswell. Online reviews, instant word-of-mouth, discussion forums, etc. all influence users in the middle of the marketing funnel and can drastically alter outcomes.

Authors Bernoff and Li (2011) outline the four most common methods for talking with the groundswell.

  1. Post a viral video
    Organizations can pursue online videos for a variety of goals. To boost sales, build relationships, etc. The goal should be to create a conversation through a video, and use it as a mechanism to link people to social networks, blogs, etc. to allow further interaction with customers.
  2. Engage in social networks & user-generated content sites
    Ah yes, social networks, we’re all on them aren’t we? One? Two? Five? And we’ve seen the expansion of business presence over social media. Many companies have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn as a tool to talk with the groundswell. Use the Social Technographics Profile to see where your customers are. If they are joiners social networks are a likely a good communication tool.
    Remember the  example we did for the Canadian tech company hiring young talent? (You can refresh your memory here.) Our target market was joiners. Creating conversation about job postings over social networks can reach a wide market. Encouraging job-related questions and responding to encourage two-way conversation can attract the talent you may be searching for.
  3. Join the blogosphere
    Blogging. (Glasbergen, 2006). Retrieved from here.

    Now I know you all probably assume I went through years of training at the Global Blog Institute to create a blog like this but the truth is, the task of creating and managing a blog is not as daunting as you may think. Blogs can be used to increase awareness of your organization, update consumers frequently, listen through comments, and stimulate discussion (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Because blogging is personal, no one should be forced to blog, instead, it should be someone who wants to engage in dialogue. Authors suggest prior to starting a blog, consider the P and of the POST Method (found in my last weeks blog here). Your people and objectives – if you know whom you want to reach and exactly what you want to accomplish, it’s far more likely to succeed (Bernoff & Li, 2011).

  4. Create a community 
    If you are interested in creating an online community, look to see whether your market really is a community or has the potential to be one (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Then look to see what communities are already out there for your market. What would your competition be? And do not create a community if you cannot support it through maintenance, new content, new features, etc.

A shift from traditional marketing to talking with a groundswell in like the transition from shouting to pleasant conversation. The bombardment of television ads have been replaced with online review forums. It creates dialogue and two way conversation through comments and feedback that organizations can listen to, and hopefully be proactive with. Here’s what authors noted about talking to the groundswell.
“Even as technologies change, the basic conversational nature of those technologies will remain central. If you learn to talk, listen, and respond, you’ll master the middle of the funnel” (Bernoff & Li, 2011, 126)

So where do companies reach you the most online? Where do you wish they reached you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!



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

Featured Image: Marketing Funnel.  Retrieved from here


Connecting with the Groundswell and Transforming Your Company

Hello everyone!

Now I’m sure those of you following along are expecting a review of the next chapter ‘talking with the groundswell’ of Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (available for purchase here). But I like to live a little crazy, so we’re jumping ahead and looking at a chapter focusing on how connecting with the groundswell can transform your company. A little random? Maybe, but what’s life without a little randomness?

Are you familiar with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty videos? I’d be surprised if you weren’t. The viral videos have exploded in popularity. The first video, titled ‘Evolution’ was distributed across sites like YouTube and drove double the amount of traffic to their website than the 30-second SuperBowl ad. That SuperBowl ad, by the way, cost Dove $2.5 million dollars. Distributing the ‘Evolution’ video cost the company nothing, and earned them advertisement’s highest awards in Cannes (Benoff & Li, 2011).

Source: Dove Evolution. Retrieved from here

But for a large company where traditional grand messages and marketing plans are meticulously planned and coordinated over months, how did they transform into a company that embraces the groundswell? Authors Bernoff and Li note ways companies can connect with the groundswell and transform a company. Become a company with its finger on what pulse of what consumers want, and become better listeners. Listening you say? Didn’t your previous article talk about listening? Why yes it did, and it’s available here. See, it’s all connected.

There are three essential elements to transforming a company from traditional marketing and customer support to one that is led by, and engages with the groundswell to achieve objectives.

1. Take it step by step – shifting a company culture mentally to embrace and engage with the groundswell can take time. You want to create a mini-groundswell within the company and use opportunities to adjust concepts and perceptions of people to how things should work. (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Letting go of some control isn’t an easy win for companies halted by tradition. Look for shortcomings in current programs and apply groundswell thinking to solve problems,displaying the impacts of small successes can gain support for a groundswell initiative.

2. Lead in a natural progression – Stepping-stones of transformation should lead to more steps,and companies should have visions and plans for how these steps interact and build into an overall strategy of groundswell thinking. Have a vision of the kind of conversation you want with your customers, what message to convey to those who want to interact. Launch internal blogs, social networks etc. to demonstrate benefits and develop plans and visions on how it can integrate with consumers and outside parties.

3. Have executive support – One person only has so much political power within an organization. But ideas and changes that have top support are able to gain larger support for change. Build leaders into the plan for transformation, and educate the executives (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Tools such as the Social Technographics Profile (there’s a blog about that too! Located here) and research can demonstrate that the consumer base is eager to engage and sell upper management on groundswell thinking. Sharing a vision with persuasive and planning skills can help get top management support. And since they usually control funding and change processes, you want them on your side.

So are you a groundswell thinking champion? You could be the right person to run a groundswell strategy initiative. Passion for relationships with customers can be a first-step catalyst to start transforming. Customers can now organize in the groundswell, and having your company embrace the change can lead to the breakdown of once siloed functions and result in integrated approaches for marketing and customer communication.

Are we at a time where the transformation to embrace the groundswell is almost inevitable? Can ignoring it become too much of a risk as technology and communication of the groundswell increases daily? I want to hear your thoughts!




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

Featured Image: Digital transformation…(February 24, 2015). Retrieved from here

Listening to the Groundswell


Well we are another week down, another chapter read from Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (available for purchase here). And who would have thought this HR student was leading a blog on social media marketing! But the books good, and it feels relevant, just like a book about technology should, unlike many outdated textbooks and cases I’ve seen over my four years.

This chapter is focusing on listening to the groundswell. For new readers wondering what the heck a groundswell is, see my last post here for the definition. But this online movement needs proper attention and care to use it as an opportunity, and this comes in the form of listening. With so much going on in daily lives, so many online users, it’s easy to tune out and stick with your way of doing things. But having an ear to the groundswell may help you or your business proactively succeed and grow.

Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen. Found at http://www.glasbergen.com/wp-content/gallery/stress/stress23.gif
Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen. Found at http://www.glasbergen.com/wp-content/gallery/stress/stress23.gif

Your brand is what customers say it is (Bernoff & Li, 2011). As the authors note, the brand transcends the physical company, it lives outside the company and is determined by the market. And more than likely it can be determined in the groundswell, where the market communicates with each other. But the more you listen, the more you can take approaches to align how the groundswell perceives your brand, to how you want to be perceived. Market research can map trends, but makes it difficult to know what people are thinking. Focus groups can answer questions, but won’t tell you what you never thought to ask, which may be the most important (Bernoff & Li, 2011, pg.80). Actively listening to the groundswell can reveal new insights, something you may just need to take your company to the next level, meet an important consumer need, or mitigate PR crisis’ early.

So whether you choose to listen by starting a private community, engaging a company for brand monitoring, or using tools to listen on your own, the authors provide practical suggestions to help you in listening to the groundswell.
Check the Social Technographics Profile (STP) of your customer: See my previous article here for more information about the STP. This starting point allows you to better understand if your customers actually participate in the groundswell to allow more comprehensive brand monitoring. If your customers rank high in creators or critics, brand monitoring can be more effective.
Start Small, Think Big: Multiple brands and multiple online sources of information can lead to information overload. Research can grow in both cost and complexity over time. Have a plan in place to ensure listening can be managed well.
Experienced Listening Vendors: If you use a vendor to listen to the online community, you’ll want experienced analysts ready to understand what you need to gain from the information and how to help your users understand the results.
Interpreting & Integrating Information: Once you have data collected, you actually have to do something with it! Have senior staff dedicated to reading reports, consulting with vendors, and generating conclusions. Use the information to generate action plans aligned with company values.
(Bernoff & Li, 2011)

Listening to the online community isn’t just for marketing purposes. Human resources and recruiting can actively listen to the groundswell to gain insight. Are people talking about staff experiences? Customer service? Are they talking about services they wish they had (and maybe services you can develop a position and recruit someone for)? Or maybe your online community is expressing interest in job positions at your company. What are they saying about it? Is someone in a private community expressing ideas that make you think they would make a great asset to your team? So many questions for the HR person, so little time. Research can help HR exert more powerful influences when it comes to what is needed to develop the company through staffing, training, communication, etc., and turn insight into action.

So thanks for listening to me, now go get listening to the groundswell!



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

Featured Image:Why social listening is important. Retrieved from here