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.


Tapping the groundswell with Twitter


Hello again readers!


In the book this week was on the topic of Twitter and how you can tap into the groundswell if you decided to use it. Over the past few years, the use of social technology has exploded into a whole new way of keeping connected with others. Thus, the trend to follow was with organizations adopting it as a new channel to connect with its market. Of the many out there, Twitter has become one of the largest, allowing for its users to post short public messages directed at whatever content they wish, while allowing for the message to be shared by whoever may see it. Described as being an “ecosystem of interactions”, it consists of the following elements (some of which are color coordinated to the image above):


  • Followers – “A follower is another Twitter account that has followed you to receive your Tweets in their Home timeline.” (Twitter, 2017)


  • Hashtags and searches – “A hashtag is any word or phrase immediately preceded by the # symbol. When you click or tap on a hashtag, you’ll see other Tweets containing the same keyword or topic.” (Twitter, 2017)


  • Mentions and retweets – “Mentioning other accounts in your Tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username is called a “mention.” Also refers to Tweets in which your @username was included. A Tweet that you forward to your followers is known as a Retweet. Often used to pass along news or other valuable discoveries on Twitter, Retweets always retain original attribution.” (Twitter, 2017)


  • LinksLinks are web addresses in which users can add to tweets to increase the value and power of the message. “You can share an article or anything else on the web along with a note recommending it… These links, videos and photos make twitter far richer than just text updates”. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 199)


  • Lists – “From your own account, you can create a group list of other Twitter accounts by topic or interest (e.g., a list of friends, coworkers, celebrities, athletes). Twitter lists also contain a timeline of Tweets from the specific accounts that were added to the list, offering you a way to follow individual accounts as a group on Twitter.” (Twitter, 2017)


  • Apps and tools – There are many apps that associate with Twitter as a result of it content being open to the public. This allowed for the creation of many apps and tools in which allows for twitter content to be analyzed in different ways. One of the examples mentioned by Li and Bernoff (2011) is TweetDeck, a free application for collecting your mentions and searches into columns in a full screen interface to make responding to them easier.


Prior to entering the world of Twitter, Li and Bernoff (2011) once again says you should ask yourself the question “what do you want to use it for?”. By participating in Twitter and it’s elements, organizations can use it to help achieve the objectives in their strategy, of which have been described in my previous blogs. With this, the chapter closes with some advice to consider when your business decides to use of Twitter:


  • Lock up your handle – If someone else obtains and tweets from your handle (i.e. business name) before you are able to get it, you will most likely be misrepresented and your consumers being subject to imposter information. Luckily to help prevent this Twitter has a “verified account” feature that brands and individuals can use to ensure the handles belong to a real company/person.


  • Listen first – “Know what people are tweeting about you before you start posting” (Li & Bernoff, 2011 p. 2010)


  • Be ready to support people – “Consumers will expect your Twitter handle to support them… You need a procedure to identify tweeters who need help and hand them off to your customer service or technical support group” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 210)


  • Follow others – To be able to “direct message” people, you must be a follower of that handle. It is also “…a best practice for providing support where people need to share personal information with you” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 210).


  • Be ready for a crisis – People will look to your account when something goes wrong. A plan is needed that allows your Twitter handle to act as an information channel for the public when crisis arise, regardless of what your initial objective was for your Twitter account. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


  • Respond, retweet, and link – Respond to people tweeting you; retweet or mention posts that your followers will find interesting; link interesting material on your site as Twitter handles that lack this participation only frustrate your customers. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


  • Staff it – Twitter needs to be in somebody’s job description, whether it’s the “…marketers, PR people, or support people, their job description should allow time in their day for tweeting” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 2011).


  • Check legal and regulatory – Since all Tweets are of public speech, are searchable, and can be linked/shared, such statements that are inappropriate to publish are also deemed inappropriate for Twitter. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


  • Having gathered a following, don’t waste it – If your building interest in an account, make sure to create a plan for what to do once you’re finished using it. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


With this information, I would hope I have given you some insight into the online world of Twitter, as well as some guiding points to help make your handle successful.


Until next blog,


  • Jordan



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


Twitter. (2017). Twitter glossary. Retrieved from https://support.twitter.com/articles/166337#

Supporting the groundswell.

Welcome to blog seven,

This week’s reading was on chapter eight of the book ‘groundswell’, which talked about how groundswell users can support themselves through the use of online support communities. As with any products or services, the final sale is not the last contact with your customers. Companies must continue to provide additional support post sale in case any issues arise related to the products or services provided. Prior to the spawn of the internet, this was mostly done through face-to-face customer service or over the phone. As a result of the internet, two major trends became prevalent throughout the last few years, the first began in the 1990s, when “…companies recognized they could send people to their Web site for information” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 157), and the second being outsourcing where companies moved support calls overseas. But with this it only continued the long wait times, automated voice interactive systems, and ‘hit-or-miss’ quality of information online. This eventually lead to the creation of online support communities (the topic of this chapter), where customers could interact with other customers to share and discuss information/experiences related to a certain product or service. This gives customers the ability to help each other thus making them happier and in return, leading to higher cost savings and increased insight into what customers are conversing about involving your products, services, and/or overall brand.

For companies looking to reap the benefits of these support communities, the groundswell suggests three things that organizations should examine: (1) what problem you will solve, (2) how will you participate, and (3) should you create a support community or join and existing one. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.171)

Once you have addressed the above three questions and/or determined that a support community is a benefit to be sought, Li and Bernoff (2011) further offers five suggestions to get you started:

  1. Start small, but plan for a larger presence – “Learn what works for your type of customers before expanding your presence to support other products” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, 174).
  2. Reach out to your most active customers – “…[F]ind your enthusiasts, and ask them how they’d prefer to participate. They will become important leaders in your online community” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175).
  3. Plan to drive traffic to your community – “Nobody knows you exist… [so] advertise on sites where your customers shop… [and] buy paid search listings at Google, Yahoo!, and MSN Live Search” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175).
  4. Build a reputation system – “Users will spend hours a day building their reputations in a community. A well-built reputation system encourages users to participate and behave in a right manner” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175).
  5. Let your customers lead you – “Communities have opinions on everything. They’ll not only tell you what product features to add; they’ll also tell you how the community should run and what you are doing right and wrong” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.176).

Usually this is the part where I would contrast these ideas with an organization. Throughout my blogs I have continued to use the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as the example but unfortunately, I was unable to find clear examples to apply this, as from my experience, RBC seems to be stuck in the 1990’s trend of relying mostly on their support call centers and referring clients to their website which most of the time just refers you back to their support call center. Maybe one day RBC will begin to utilize this type of support so clients can spend less time on a ‘wild goose chase’ being sent to their ‘hit-or-miss’ website for answers.


Until next week,

Jordan Fewer



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


Connecting with the Groundswell to transform your company

Hello again everyone!

Closing this week, along with some rain outside, involved reading about the topic of ‘how connecting with the groundswell transforms your company’. The main point to take home from this chapter is that when an organization begins to engage and embrace ‘groundswell thinking’ along with a social strategy, it tends to create a change within the organization (Li & Bernoff, 2011). As well, it begins to transform the organization’s marketing approach and the way it works with customers, placing the customer in the center of the organization.

To assist with this concept, Li & Bernoff (2011) go into great detail about how two companies, Dell and Unilever, transformed as a result of this kind of thinking. To make groundswell thinking happen, three important elements contribute to a successful transformation:

  • Taking it step by step – A mental shift takes time and practices to allow for the organization to adjust. Changing too many things all at once may lead to change fatigue within the organization.
  • You need a plan and vision – A solid foundation is needed for progression in any organization, thus a vision of where the organization wants to go, and how it will get there must be clear, concise, and reasonable.
  • Executive support – For groundswell thinking to become ingrain into an organization, support for from upper management is vital and necessary to aid in the growth of new ideas.

In addition to the elements mentioned above, the following aspects were presented as being vital to successful transformation within an organization:

  1. Start small – Changes takes time. You only have so much power so pick your battles and aim for having a series of smaller successes that have impact.
  2. Educate your executives – Some may be ignorant, believing it has no purpose. Change this thinking with showing them research. If possible, get them active in the groundswell.
  3. Get the right people to run your strategy – A passion for building customer relationships is vital to successful utilization of the groundswell and the social strategy so you will want people running your strategy that openly engage with the customers.
  4. Get your agency and technology partners in sync – Get them to invest the time and resources to learn the groundswell, if not change agencies.
  5. Plan for the next step and for long term – as with any plan, there must be a vision, you will want to know where the groundswell and your strategy/plan is going to take the company.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Putting these concepts in perspective, many large organizations seem to be embracing and utilizing the benefits of the groundswell more each day. For example, WestJet, and from my previous blogs, the Royal Bank of Canada, use many forms of social media (i.e. RBC’s Twitter, WestJet Twitter) daily to keep closely connected and listen to what the public is saying, maintain a connection with customers, share a variety of information, while even providing an alternative account specifically for question via @AskRBC or hashtags like #OwnersCare.

2017-06-18 (5)

Cheers until next week,

Jordan Fewer

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