When an organization takes the time to talk with the groundswell they will start to gain a better understanding of their current and future target markets. The text mentions four successful ways to talk with the groundswell: viral videos, social networks, blogs, and communities. The difficult part is deciding which method will work best for you and your organization. First you need to analyze your organization and understand where there are issues when it comes to reaching consumers. When learning to talk with the groundswell the marketing team needs to be well equip to undergo the transformation. They are no longer using their usual tactic of shouting and listening for the echo (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.125). Marketers need to understand that in order to talk with the groundswell they need to be prepared to deal with people, comments, and feedback properly. Responses need to be answered with the person, audience, and organization in mind. This can be related to the marketing funnel. The marketing funnel says, consumers are driving into the big end through awareness activities like advertising; they then proceed through the states of consideration, preference, action, and loyalty – to become the buyer (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.101). The difficulty with most marketing techniques is they lose control over what happens in the middle stages. This is where talking with the groundswell can have its biggest impact. Through having conversations with consumers you are able to reach those middle stages due to instilling trust. People become influenced when they read comments and responses, even if they are not the participants.
When choosing a method the organization needs to ensure that it is meeting the current problem within the organization. The first method to analyze is creating and implementing viral videos. Posting a viral video is putting a video online and letting people share it (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.103). An organization that exemplifies this would be WestJet. For the past two Christmas’s they have created a heartwarming Christmas Miracle story and posted it online for people to view and share. This had given them an abundance of expose in a short amount of time, instantaneously increasing revenue at a mere fraction of the cost a normal commercial would have cost. The reason they were so successful was because they created a ‘brilliant idea’. They were heartwarming Christmas stories that allowed them to shine a light on their organizational culture.
The second way that can be utilized to talk with the groundswell is engaging in social networks and user-generated content sites. This is done through “creating a personality within social networking sites” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.103). Many organizations have taken to using Facebook and Twitter to talk with their customers and allow them to share products or posts of the organizations with their friends. The key to social networks is “to respond to what your customers are saying – so you can help them through the funnel” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.124). An organization who demonstrates the use of social networking well is Walmart. Although it has been more difficult for them to identify themselves within this method due their inability to have complete brand loyalty they have a strong consumer following and make sure to communicate back to their followers on Facebook. Through this they are able to answer questions or concerns and even agree or assist with viewers comments. See Exhibit 1 & 2. I think this is a great way for Wal-Mart to minimize the negativity on their Facebook page and also let consumers know that their concerns have been heard.
The third method to talk with the groundswell would be to join the blogosphere. This can be done through empowering your staff or executives to write blogs, and also by listening to and responding to other people’s blogs (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.103). Blogs help minimize the confusion of the complex messages you are trying to communicate to the public. Coca-Cola has a blog called ‘Unbottled’ where they post stories that are aligned with corporate objectives, along with diverse views from customers, employees and partners. Through these blogs they are able to make “great emotion and human connections” (Schaefer, 2015). They are able to connect with their consumers and give a better understanding of what they are doing around the world, it also helps start conversations where consumers are able to give their opinion.
The fourth method to talking with the groundswell is creating a community. “Communities are a powerful way to engage with your customers and deliver value to them” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.103). Creating a community is opening a window where consumers can band together and socialize about a certain topic, which they all have in common. An organization that does this is the Denver Broncos. They have a webpage where fans can go and ask questions about upcoming deadlines, they can buy merchandise and socialize with other fans. Although it is difficult to control negative comments, it allows people who are interested in the product to become united through discussions.
By talking with the groundswell you are building relationships with your consumers allowing them to feel important and heard. “If you learn to talk, listen, and respond, you’ll master the middle of the funnel” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.126) and that is success!
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Massachusettes: Harvard Business Review Press.
Schaefer, M. (2015, January 5). The 10 Best Company Blogs in the World. Retrieved 17 2015, March, from Businesses Grow: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2011/01/05/the-10-best-corporate-blogs-in-the-world/