Groundswell is “A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.” It is happening in this day and age because people have the technological tools, and the increasing needs to amongst other things; keep up friendships, pay something forward, be creative and find people with similar interests. This blog post will discuss the ways a company can and should use Groundswell to come to innovating new insights.
Evaluating The Technologies
The following tools can be used for Groundswell:
- Blogs, user generated content & podcasts
- Social Networks & Virtual Worlds
- Wikis and Open Source
- Forums, Ratings and Reviews
- RSS and Widgets
|Type of Tool||Relationship||Positives||Negatives|
|Blogs, User-generated content & Podcasts||Citing, commenting, adding links||A lot of readers. Blogging is very popular and means both information and feedback available. Enables companies to try out ideas.||Completely unregulated, both fact and opinion is included. Employee posts should be well-monitored to avoid negative messages.|
|Social Networks & Virtual Worlds||All about relationships||A lot of traffic. Easy way to collect followers by creating company / celebrity profiles.||Short-term trends are spread rapidly (fads). Very time-consuming.|
|Wikis & Open Source||Collaborator relations enhanced through special discussion pages.||Enhanced relationships between the collaborators who help each other write content.||Wikipedia is extremely popular. Content about companies can be written in negative light. No control.|
|Forums, Ratings and Reviews||Slow-motion conversations||Great source of feedback on products and customer service.||Each negative consumer review can have major impact.|
|Tags||Very little tie to relationships||Makes it easier to find your content when used.||Can be used to shed bad light on your business by using particular tags connected to your company.|
|RSS & Widgets||Propagate information||Information goes quickly from blogs to people.||Possible for negative company image Widgets to be spread.|
When evaluating the technologies, remember to keep focus on the relationships and not technologies. Better relationship facilitation = Faster spread
Also evaluate the following points: Is sign up made extremely easy? Is it a new way for people to connect? Does it empower consumers to post whatever they like without institutional approval? Can the community survive by itself or does it need someone to look after it and its members? Does it attract potential partners?
Determining your Key Group and Strategy
There are six types of people who take part in different types of activities through these technologies. The profile can be used to determine what key group to reach.
- Spectators: Take part in publishing (blog, webpage), uploading media and writing articles and stories.
- Critcs: Post feedback in the form of ratings and reviews of products and services. They comment on other people’s blogs and online forums and might contribute to open source Wiki’s.
- Collectors: They use RSS feeds, add tags to web pages or photos and vote for websites online.
- Joiners: Post to their own social networking profiles and visit these sites.
- Spectators: Read blogs, watch videos posted by others, follow podcasts, read forums and reviews.
- Inactives: None of the activities mentioned above.
A lot of companies know they should use the Groundswell but do not know why. To get started you first need to determine your objectives. Look at your customers; what are they ready for? Without having a goal you will NOT be successful in the Groundswell.
POST = The four step Planning Process
- People: What are your customers ready for? A Technographic Profile shows how many percent of people take part in which of the six key groups above and is country-specific. (The two most important key groups to reach, disregarding the profile, are the Critics and Creators!)
- Objectives: What are your goals?
- Strategy: In what way do you want your customer relationship to change?
- Technology: What applications should you construct?
There are several objectives that Groundswell can help you reach. You may: Gain better understanding of your customers, spread messages about your company, supercharge Word-of-Mouth, help customers support each other and get consumers involved in the way you do business.
Next Step Objectives
Depending on your current business function, there are set Groundswell objectives you will be able to follow:
Research – Listen to your customers when talking to each other.
Marketing – Take part and stimulate customer to customer conversations
Sales – Energize your happy and talkative customers to help sell to each other
Support – Help people support each other
Development – Embrace your customers’ will to help each other and come up with ideas for product/service improvement
Groundswell author Josh Bernoff talking about the Groundswell Objectives
Listening is KEY
Your brand is what your customers are saying about it, so it is logical you should listen to them. Market research is a good way to find answers, but less great at gaining valuable insight while surveys will only answer the question that you thought of asking.
Not everybody will talk; only the talkative people will tell you what is on their minds, and still there will be a lot of noise that needs filtering so that you can get to the important information. A good way to listen the Groundswell way is to set up you own community as well as hiring a monitoring company to listen in for you. By frequently listening to your customers you will also understand why the buzz changes from time to time.
Develop a great listening plan by looking into the technographics profile. Start small but think BIG and you will be well on your way to reach your Groundswell objective.