Energizing the groundswell.

For all of you reading this, Welcome back to my blog!


This week’s reading was an in-depth look at the third level of groundswell thinking, energizing the groundswell. This is probably the most important aspect of groundswell thinking as the ability to get your enthusiast customers onboard to aid in increasing the awareness of your brand through word of mouth can cause your brand to go viral faster than any of the traditional marketing techniques. Why is this word of mouth technique so important? Because of the following three reasons:

  • It’s believable – “Testimonials from customers are far more credible than any media source” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130).


  • It’s self-reinforcing – “Hear it from one person, and it’s intriguing. Hear it from five or ten, even if you didn’t know them before, it has to be true” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130).


  • It’s self-spreading – “[I]f a product is worth using, its word of mouth generates more word of mouth in a cascade that’s literally exponential” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130).


I’m sure I am not the only one, as all of you most likely have had similar experiences but, I will give an example of what enthusiast customers do for your brand. I have always had an issue with whatever I am drinking going warm prior to finishing and eventually grew tired of seeing so much of it being wasted as a result of becoming very money conscious as a student. So one day I went on a hunt to see what was out there that could potentially solve this problem. After searching the internet, I came across this bottle called a “S’well Bottle” which claims to keep cold stuff cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours.


I then went to check to see if they are sold locally rather than ordering online, and to my findings they were in fact being sold in many different stores. This brought me to ask the employees about the product, and as expected, nothing but great ratings. The downside however is that I found out these bottles are quite pricey, ranging from $45 to $58 locally. Working in retail, I kept my barriers up as I know some may be just trying to get a sale. Prior to finding out about the product, if S’well had set up a booth somewhere trying to sell me the bottle, I would’ve just ignored it and kept walking past once I heard or seen the price. But being that the product was being offered in multiple different stores, I turned back to the internet again to check if there was any reviews before I’d take a chance on a $40 broken promise. To my surprise however, there was nothing but more positive reviews. So I decided to take plunge and buy a $45 water bottle. It does what it says it does, and it does it really well. I have left the bottle over night many times, and I swear it’s the same temperature the next morning. Many of times I have left it in direct sunlight outside in +25 degree weather, the outside would be almost too hot to hold but the water inside still ice cold. So what is the point? These enthusiast customers of S’well was so energized about the product, they went and gave positive reviews, this in turn created the buying factor for me and is now giving them another positive review with this blog.


So how do we connect with these enthusiast customers? Li & Bernoff (2011) determined three basic techniques that your brand can utilize: (1) tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews, (2) create a community to energize your customers, or (3) participate in an energize online communities of your brand.


Five steps for applying the techniques of energizing your organization:

  1. Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell – “Energizing works well for companies with customers who are, or could be, enthusiastic about the company and its products. It’s not for everybody” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 148). Determine if the type of product you are marketing would garner a following, if so, then it is time to consider if you should energize them.
  2. Check the social technographics profile of your customers – As mentioned in my previous blogs, the social technographics profile is so important. You want to see if your customers even use the internet. If they don’t actively use it, then ratings and reviews or even the use of online communities will be redundant.
  3. Ask yourself “What is my customer’s problem?” – Keep in mind that communities don’t arise because of your product. Most times, communities exist because customers have a problem and are looking for a solution. By determining what your customers problem are, you can better decide how to energize them.
  4. Pick a strategy that fits your customer’s’ social technographics profile and problem – “For retailers and other direct sellers, ratings and reviews make sense and have a proven payoff… For other companies, communities make sense. But check first. If your customers already have communities…then it’s best to participate in those communities rather than build your own” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 149).
  5. Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul – Communities require constant adjustment to grow and become more rewarding. If you aren’t invested for the long term it may end up causing more harm than good.


Until next time,




Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell expanded and revised: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.


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