Blog Post 10 – Chapter 12

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The Groundswell Inside your Company

I cant believe we’re finally just about done the groundswell…..sigh. What a fun adventure blogging has been.

We’ve come so far and learned so many valuable lessons about the ways social media and technology can truly change companies around for the better.  Not only this, in todays highly competitive business world it is important to stay connected with your customers in new innovate ways.  Simply answering the phone is not enough anymore. Well, maybe its enough…but its becoming more and more about setting yourself apart and creating those close relationships with the customers who have the ability to push your company forward.

Chapter 12 focuses on your employees.  The first ten chapters gave great insight to how to connect with your customers, but its essentially your people who will be the key to making this work.  My company is generally fairly small, but as companies expand and become larger there is more issues in terms of communication and information flow.  Here are five important factors that Best Buy Blue Shirt Nation accomplished that led their company to groundswell success:

  • Listening – Listening to your people can turn into solving
  • Talking – Incorporate everyone together so each person can see where changes are occurring – keep the communication!
  • Energizing – Enthusiasm in your employees will leak into your customers. Positivity spreads like fire!
  • Supporting – commitment to support and promoting employees from within
  • Embracing – Embrace the relationships and communities you create

Check out this great article I found on how to encourage employees to adopt new technology changes within the organization! This article makes some great points that can be applied to the implementing the groundswell.  Check out my twitter for some great ways to motivate your employees (also make sure to check my replies to some great website links & articles).

The internal groundswell is all about “creating new ways for people to connect and work together, and to that end, its about relationships, not technology” (Bernoff, 2011).

I think this is so important for ANYONE, no matter what industry or company you work with to fully understand.  Without those relationships, trust, communication, effort and passion, the groundswell will not succeed.  People must be willing to be involved in a participative culture that encourages participation.  MOTIVATE YOUR PEOPLE. The groundswell also talks about the importance of management support in chapter 12. In order to be successful, management must lead their people, participate actively, and sponsor/initiate involvement throughout the company or these efforts will simply fail and this could be a huge loss financially.  The important lesson here: there is no substitute for management involvement.  Lets all remember this as we move forward in our careers and potentially encounter businesses who are starting on the groundswell path. And guess who might be the future manager? you!

Remember, the secret to thriving in the groundswell is culture.  yes, the customers are important, but nothing will ever succeed without the teamwork and dedication within the organization.  Everyone must be involved to see change occur. Find the rebels in your company and rather than thinking about all the risks – think about the opportunities.  Think about the future!

Until next time groundswell friends.  Remember to stay in touch on twitter where I will frequently update my feed with new and exciting groundswell/social media marketing links. @amandacam19

Sources: 

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

 

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Blog Post 9 – Chapter 7

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Energizing the Groundswell

As we continue to learn more about the groundswell, chapter 7 teaches us about what energizing the groundswell really means which was discussed in the previous blog post as well.  Its important to understand why word of mouth truly succeeds and is important when trying to achieve a media presence.

1) Its believable – More credible than media sources

2) Its self-reinforcing – If you hear it from multiple people, even if you don’t know them, it has to true

3) Its self-spreading – “If a product is worth using, its word of mouth generates more word of mouth in a cascade that’s literally exponential”

Word of mouth is proven to be one of the most honest forms of marketing.  I can relate to this in my everyday life because the way I usually like to learn about a product or service is by conversing with someone who’s bought it before.  To me, that is the most genuine, honest and credible way to find out if something has worked in the past or not.

Some people might ask, why is it worth to energize with your customers? The answer is that you create a community with your customers where they self-select you because they like your products and will continue buying/talking about them for years.  Here are some great techniques that successful companies have used to connect with their brand enthusiasts:

  • Tap into customers enthusiasm with ratings and reviews
  • Create a community to energize your customers
  • Participate in and energize online communities of your brand

Its also important for companies to understand the benefits of ratings and reviews.  Exhibit 7-1 shows a cost & profit analysis of ROI in terms of ratings and reviews. Its crazy to see that rating increase the conversion rate by 20% and the transaction size for those customers by minimum 10%.  In the construction industry we usually bid on small to large jobs through “active bidding” which generally requires our company to hand in a bid-binder that lists our rates, prices, and other important information.  Word of mouth AND reviews are a HUGE part in how a lot of companies win contracts.  Yes, price comes into account and is a big factor, but if a large company like EPCOR or ENMAX continually hears from clients and other industry people that a certain company did an awful job, this most definitely affects who they reward the project to.  I’ve seen this happen multiple times over and over again.  Its all about creating that positive image for yourself so when people talk, which they will, good things are said.   Here’s an interesting article that talks about small businesses relying on WOM and that 85% of their clients generally come from this simple and effective marketing tactic.

Not only does the groundswell focus on the importance of customer-business relationships but also how it can improve business-business relationships (which can sometimes be more important for those companies where other businesses ARE their customers – like the construction industry).  How you energize your customers also depends on how you want your relationships to change.  Reviews, ratings, and communities are all good examples but there are many more.  Businesses can design strategies & technologies that match the relationships they already have and then provide ways for their customers to extend those relationships.  Here are five great steps for applying the techniques of energizing to your own organization!

  • Figure out if you WANT to energize the groundswell (its more powerful & riskier than just listening or talking….people are now discussing your products)
  • Check the social techno graphics profile of your customers – how active are your customers participating in the groundswell?
  • Ask yourself – What is my customers problem? – to determine how you can fix it
  • Pick a strategy that fits your customers social techno graphics profile and problems
  • Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul

This chapter provides more great insight to the groundswell, and valuable information for companies to think about.  Its important to understand that energizing can potentially transform your company for the better. Its all about embracing your customers, learning from them, and letting these new opportunities take your company to a completely new place.

Until next time groundswell friends!

Sources: 

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

 

 

 

 

Blog Post 8 – Chapter 10

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Tapping the Groundswell With Twitter

Now we really get into a resource that can help industries all over the world connect with their customers.  Twitter is a great asset to connect, share, and converse with customers as well as a way to gain more information about the world.  Before we get started, here’s a great video that shows how twitter can be beneficial for your business. Check it out here!

The chapter starts out telling readers how twitter is rapidly becoming a key part of the groundswell & how it has become an entire ecosystem of interactions between people and businesses.  Here are some key components & terminology of twitter for those who aren’t familiar:

  • Followers
  • Hash tags & Searches
  • Mentions and Retweets
  • Links
  • Lists
  • Apps & Tools

Some of the most influential people are on twitter, and even though in 2010 only 7% of adults were engaging on this social network, these individuals are three times a likely to be creators, critics, and half likely to be joiners compared with the typical online consumer. This is crazy to me. Only 7% of ADULTS online?? I can’t image the potential relationships and business opportunities if this increased to even 30%.  Its also important to understand that once on twitter, people will expect you to be extremely engaged (listening and responding), and lack of this could affect the whole purpose of having it in the first place.

Global companies such as McDonalds, Southwest Airlines and Dell use this resource to give promotions, deals, links to important sites, answering questions, complaints, concerns & feedback, and giving the company an opportunity to really connect with the people involved in their organization on a daily basis.

Its also important to understand that the key to energizing people (people that like your products) is LISTENING. Hmm! this topic seems familiar in the groundswell.  Companies who create twitter accounts energize by responding and retweeting them which ultimately reinforces ties.  Getting employees on board also helps energizing while making sure that their purpose is to build reputation, connect with the consumer, and using it as a support objective.

In the construction industry, particularly my company, twitter could be extremely beneficial because there are SO many competitors right here in Alberta.  Being able to follow these accounts would be a major resource in terms of acquiring information not only from others, but giving our company more leeway into the groundswell. I think it would be smart to make the younger people the “leads” on these accounts.  I find that the younger generation has so much more knowledge & experience with these social networking sites, and would find this sort of task more exciting. Here is some potential advice I could give to my managers when trying to implement twitter into my company:

  • Lock up the handle – Be the one behind the screen – make it a verified account – make it YOU
  • Listen first
  • Be ready to support people and be active
  • Follow others – create a community
  • Be read for a crisis – use these situations to your advantage! turn negatives into positives when possible
  • Respond, retweet and link
  • Staff it – make this certain peoples priority (it can almost be a full time job!)
  • Check with legal and regulatory staff – ensure your statements are appropriate to the public and don’t go against any rules in terms of privacy
  • Having gathered a following, don’t waste it! – give people a reason to stay connected

Now that we’ve gotten into twitter, lets start tweeting!!

Check out my personal twitter account for social media marketing updates & to stay connected with me 🙂 @amandacam19

Until next week groundswell friends.

Sources: 

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

 

 

Blog Post 7 – Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – Helping the Groundswell Support Itself

Data-Analysis-new

As we start Chapter 8 off, we read about how companies view supporting their customers as a burden.  Not only does it cost money to be on the phone dealing with issues and questions, its taking time away from something else that could be getting done.  I can relate to this because in my job, I usually know that when someone’s calling its because something hasn’t been done right, or something needs to be done differently.  It also takes me away from my tasks that I need to get done, resulting in lots of overtime to makeup for work that should’ve been done in the day.  Companies in 1990 recognized they could take some of this off their plate by directing customers to their websites, which soon became known as “the self service revolution“. It also discusses how people are actually inclined to help out total strangers because people are far more willing to trust other people than a company.  Dell is mentioned as a prime example of a company who uses online forums and support groups to create “a community” amongst their customers who can rely on one another for information in regards to their products or services.  The reason they are interacting in this way isn’t for fun, but rather answers.

This makes me think….how many less calls a day would I have, and how much MORE work could I get done if there was simply a place customers could go to communicate these questions and get answers back without even talking to a company representative?

I think its important for companies to understand that creating wiki’s, blogs or forums as a resource for customers can not only help their business financially, but it can help them create a tight knit community together.  It provides a place where they can problem solve together and adds value all around and can create leads and produce new clients.

The chapter discusses the importance of creating a community of experts in order for it to be successful.  Its important to get support from your customers, ask them for help, and involve them in the process.  Its also important to remember about patience and policies.  What rules will you make to ensure the integrity of the information?

Next, chapter 8 discusses the importance of three questions that will need to examine what the groundswell means for your company.

  • What problem will you solve?
  • How will you participate?
  • Whether you should create a support community or join an existing on

I like how they mention to ask yourself the question WHY? Why will your customers find these forums or wikis helpful? I think its so important as a business owner to always put yourself in the customers shoes.  If you were them, would you use it? How can you make it the best experience possible and ensure people will continue using it? All these questions that business owners & managers must think about when implementing and working with the groundswell.

Here is some great advice for starting a community for support:

  • Start small, but plan for a larger presence
  • reach out to your most active customers
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community
  • Build a reputation system
  • Let your customers lead you

After doing some additional research on other great support forums out there, companies such as Cisco have built support communities for their members to collaborate and communicate about anything they wish.  Companies such as Apple have also done the same.  In conclusion of chapter 8, its important that companies look at these support communities as a huge opportunity.  There are going to be times where customers use these resources to put negative feedback about price and certain experiences they’ve had, but look at like “you have a front row seat”.  You can ask people to clarify their comments, add additional information to better a situation, and collaborate with these people to gather as much information as possible.  In the end, the more information you have, the better off you and the success of your company will be.

Sources: 

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

 

 

Blog Post 6 – Chapter 6

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Talking With the Groundswell – Chapter 6

“Once people are aware of your product, a new dynamic kicks in, people learning from each other”.

To start off with this blog, I chose to include this quote because it struck my attention in the first couple pages.  I think this quote is totally applicable to life & business today because its true, people are shifting away from marketing and advertising and capturing information and opinions from their personal interactions.  Thinking about my personal life….I completely reside with reviews, what people say about products, and most importantly, feedback I get from friends or acquaintances about their experience with something.  I rarely go purchase something because I see an add that strikes me or a video clip that I find intriguing.  “This generation puts a lot of stock in the opinion and advice and direction of their peers” which was said by Ernst & Young’s director of campus recruiting.

Here are four ways that can help companies or people talk with the groundswell:

  • Post a viral video
  • engage in social networks and user generated content sites
  • Join the blogosphere
  • Create a community

(Bernoff, 2011)

These are all great points that my company in the construction industry could follow to make a difference when deciding how to further connect with customers.  As mentioned in my previous blog posts, I always said that people who are older and have conducted business WITHOUT technology for all these years would react to an online groundswell proposal.  Here are some points stating whether or not companies should consider using social networking to talk with perspective customers.

  • Use the social technographics profile to verify that your customers are in social networks (are majority involved?..if so..this makes sense for you)
  • Move forward if people love your brand (can you attract followers?)
  • See whats out there already
  • Create a presence that encourages interaction

(Bernoff, 2011)

We now move onto blogging and how to talk to customers through this groundswell approach.  Before we get into this, here is a video I found that talks about the benefits of blogging.  Take a look! Pros of Blogs.

Chapter 6 discusses HP success in blogging.  They had a wide and complex product lines and were able to discuss product details and communicate with their customers in an efficient and informative way as well as generate traffic & buzz about their business.  They now have over 80 blogs that customers can access if they need to know about storage, mobility or business concepts.  The most important part – TRUST.  Personal statements from management and CEO’s directly to the customer creates a partnership and establishes trust within the relationship.  In turn, customers will most likely stay loyal to your brand and continue to recommend it to others.

As mentioned before, my company who specializes in underground trenching does not do ANY of this, whats so ever.  I work with people from different generations, who are labour-working construction people, and they have never even thought that perhaps blogging could create a world of opportunity for the company.  Even if its just blogging between clients/potential clients/stakeholders and having that additional means of communication….it definitely couldn’t hurt if done properly. Here are ten suggestions that the groundswell suggests when considering blogging:

  • Start by listening
  • determine a goal for the blog
  • estimate the ROI
  • develop a plan
  • rehearse
  • develop an editorial process
  • design the blog and its connection to your site
  • develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog
  • remember, blogging is more than writing
  • most importantly…be honest

(Bernoff, 2011)

I think its important for every company to truly asks themselves how videos, blogs, communities and social networks would help their business prosper.  I really believe that theres nothing to lose by expanding your communication lines and establishing closer relationships with the people you work with.  In my industry, I think the most beneficial one would be creating more social networking.  This could help us answer questions, post information, insert links to our website or job posting, and give us a way to “be more out there”.  Its important to create awareness, and who knows the business opportunities that will come out of this. If people see something online, it might create word of mouth buzz, and hopefully evolve into something more.

Remember….not every part of “talking” and advertising is right for everyone, it takes knowing your customers & industry, being educated about your company, and being able to create something that your customers will want to be involved in.  If done the right way, it could have a tremendous impact on your company long-term.

Sources: 

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

 

 

 

Blog Post 5- Chapter 4

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In Chapter 4 we take a look at strategies for tapping the groundswell. This a particularly interesting chapter because it is a fundamental topic that helps us understand how to make sure we take the right steps when planning how we will use a social network strategy in our organization.  I particularly like how the chapter starts out with a narrative. I relate to this because I was raised in the technology era where everyone has social media and is accessible online, but I am working in an industry where the people who are in charge of making decisions are mere opposite.  They know that times are changing and business is evolving and becoming more dependent on on-line relationships, but something holds them back from taking the plunge and adopting the groundswell.  Why is this? After reading and learning about chapter 4, hopefully we gain more insight to how we can make the appropriate moves in our industry to get people onboard to become more involved in the online-business community.

We learn about POST – which is the foundation of groundswell thinking.  It is a systematic framework for assembling your plan – which is so far the most important subject in this textbook that will help me to get the baby boomer generation in my construction company onboard with the changes that need to occur.  Before I breakdown the POST method, see this attached article for an awesome insight on how to help your members embrace technology.  There is awesome information and insight in this article!

How to get your members onboard

Some interesting points I took from this article are:

  • Simplify everything
  • Tailor new technologies for users
  • Don’t be intrusive
  • Understand why people are reluctant and focus on changing their views

Now we discuss the POST method and how this helps us think in a way that can help implement the groundswell.

People – This diseases what the customers are ready for. This part touches on how customers will engage, or will they at all? What do they want to see more of and what will the groundswell do to encourage more customer/employee interaction? It is important to do research in this stage to ensure you have the proper facts & research of what it is your customers really want.  Do they simply want 24 hour customer service, or do they want a place they can see updates, photos, and news? This will require communication between the organization & the people they deal with on a regular basis.

Objectives – This section helps the organization list out their goals.  What is it we want to accomplish? Do we want to use the groundswell to help internal relationships or external? Some of the objectives listed later in the text include listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing. If we take these factors and link them directly to your company (construction), we can see how it will help us pursue our objectives.

Strategy – This is a very important part of the POST process because it helps us think about where we want to go with all of this.  How do we want things to change? How will we deal with issues that arise? What is it we are really trying to do? This section allows us to think about short term & long term goals and where we want to be after adopting the groundswell.  How are we going to measure productivity and success? How will we know if this is helping our company prosper? All of these questions will come into affect when dealing with the strategy section.

Technology – Lastly, what technologies will we need to make our strategy and objectives successful? Will we need to purchase new softwares or applications? Will we just use the internet to connect? Will we use blogs, apps, social media or wikis? Technology continues to evolve and innovate and its important to consider the companies financial situation as well.  Communicating with stakeholders to find out what they think should happen will provide a better understanding of what technical resources will be needed to carry out the appropriate strategy.

An important question comes up on page 71, “company strategists knew they had to connect with their customers in the groundswell, they just didn’t know how”

This is the most difficult aspect in my construction industry and in particular my company because I work with several individuals who are much older.  It seems as though baby boomers are not as comfortable switching out of their old ways and taking big risks – especially with technology.  I think the biggest thing is just educating and informing them on how to monitor and prepare for the risks involve, but most importantly showing them HOW the groundswell can put your company in a position that sets it up for success.  “Things are going great now, why change anything” is something us younger people get frequently when proposing more technical interaction with customers.  Its almost as though we have to wipe out a persons mentality and replace it with a completely new one.  This can be hard…

I think inviting guest speakers in is a GREAT way to kick start the brains of these individuals and shift them into believing that technology can truly make a difference (and even take a huge amount of stress off them).  Giving the people who “don’t believe” an opportunity to get comfortable with the groundswell will provide them with the tools and knowledge to act accordingly.  I feel like simply expanding their minds and showing them how successful companies can be after starting blogs/social media and interacting online with their customers, they will be that much more likely to hop on board and believe in the  process.  Here are some ways to help:

  • Create a plan that starts small but has room to grow
  • Think through the consequences of your strategy
  • Put someone important in charge of it
  • Use great care in selecting your technology and agency partners

With all of this being said, its also important to understand what potential things could go wrong and how to prepare for this.  Strategies are not easy to implement, and getting your entire organization believing in the process is also difficult.  If people don’t believe, will it work? My answer is no.  Management must be prepared to deal with negative feedback and comments, and perhaps not aligning their strategies and objectives with the right target group.  We must remember ITS OKAY TO FAIL! Most success stories do not happen over night, they take time, handwork, dedication, and most of the time – it doesn’t work out the first few times.  Its all about maintaining the belief, working hard, and adjusting the strategy accordingly.  Things WILL go wrong. (I love this!). But its those companies who push through, make changes, and find ways to make it work that succeed.

We also must remember….adopting the groundswell will fundamentally change how your company relates to its customers & this can be scary.  It will require fortitude & negotiations, mistakes will happen, but we must remember to NOT ignore the trend.  It will payoff if you take the right steps and believe in yourself.  A huge lesson I get from this chapter is NEVER QUIT.  No matter what, it will all pay off some way or another if you follow the protocol and ensure you are devoted to making the change.  “There is no right way to engage with the groundswell”, but with the effective strategies each company can adopt tactics that are right for its customers.  Don’t copy, don’t fool people, don’t be afraid to listen to others, and you will never turn back.

Sources:

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.

Blog Post 4 – Chapter 11

CONNECT & TRANSFORM – CHAPTER 11

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This week we learn about how connecting with the groundswell can transform your company.  This is especially interesting to me because my company could definitely use help with this. Who knows, maybe ill learn something valuable that I can bring back to my managers and it will become an organization-wide movement!

This chapter focuses on two particular case studies where large & well-established companies transformed a traditional marketing and customer support organization into one that is led by the groundswell. Crazy huh?

I think its super interesting when Li & Bernoff (2011) mention that organizations who let the groundswell “take over” requires a mental shift.  This ultimately means becoming so engaged with your customers that you are completely in sync with their needs and wants.  Not only does this mental shift take time, it requires practice & building a repertoire of shared successes.  Its like losing weight…it takes time, effort, hard work and determination – and most importantly, it requires commitment.  Interestingly enough (and similar to maintaining the groundswell), you must MAINTAIN.  This must become a regular part of your life (just like incorporating the groundswell must become a regular part of your organizational focus).  Creating a plan and a vision will allow you to go through the steps and help you overcome any obstacles that may come your way.  The third step is executive support.  This means catching the attention of people higher in the company who will hopefully see the value in groundswell and support your mission.  If this happens, groundswell has the ability to catch fire throughout the organization and make a tremendous change.  Lets summarize this!

1 Step: Step by step – patience, practice, adjustment

2 Step: Natural Progression into the next steps – plan, vision, strategize, lead

3 Step: Executive Support – Sell & empower

I found this interesting & educating article online that gives some steps on how companies can implement social media marketing plans in their companies.  Take a look.  Social Media Business Strategy Steps 

Its important to understand that transformation takes time.  My company currently has barely any social media, limited website information, and not a lot of ratings or customer feedback threads online.  Here are some 3 steps I could tell my manager when trying to incorporate more groundswell.

  1. Take small steps that have big impact.
  2. Have a vision and a plan
  3. Build leaders into the plan

He also needs to know that success doesn’t come easily – and we may fail before we see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It allows you to put your company open to negativity and judgement and can potentially lead to loss of control over your marketing plan, but if executed properly, the benefits outweigh the negatives. Everyone involved in the movement needs to be on the same page, and allow themselves to internalize whats happening.  I can relate to page 222 of the text.  In my company there are many “old fashioned” men who have never really used technology. A lot of baby boomer’s are “top executives” of companies, and its important to educate these people on WHY this is so important.  It takes investment and time, and most importantly TEACHING these people how to get through and use the groundswell in an effective way.

After reading the dell case in chapter 11, there are points listed as “what we can learn from dell”

  1. It took a crisis or two to get Dell started
  2. Dell mastered one thing at a time, starting with listening
  3. Executive push and cover made the difference
  4. Authenticity was crucial

And most importantly

  • Start small
  • Educate your executives
  • get the right people to run your strategy
  • get your agency and technology partners in sync
  • plan for the next step & for the long term

I absolutely love how chapter 11 places importance on “its okay to fail”.  I know for a construction company like mine where people don’t have background in the groundswell, it would take a tremendous amount of time and effort to get these people on board.  I think the whole purpose of this chapter is to make people feel comfortable knowing that its not easy, it takes hard work and commitment, but in the end the result is worth it.

Sources:

Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff,. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. (expanded and revised edition.). Harvard Business School Press.