Blog Post 3 – Chapter 5

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Blog #3 – Chapter 5 – February 8, 2016

As we get deeper into the course we continue to learn more and more about the groundswell & how technology in today’s world is a huge asset for those organizations that are looking to connect on a deeper level with their customers.  This week is Chapter 5 – “Listening to the Groundswell”which touches on super interesting topics that discuss the importance of listening to your customers to figure out what your brand really means to them.  Billions of dollars are poured into market research each year, and companies are becoming increasingly interested and concerned with what consumers are really up to.

Here is a small clip I found on why marketing research is important in todays highly competitive business world: Marketing Research

Moving forward, the chapter discuss how managers can use technological services to gain insight from the groundswell and how we can use these resources to obtain the most information as we can about how our business is doing, our customers thoughts, and how we can use this to our advantage going forward.  There are two listening strategies that the groundswell says we need to be aware of:

  1. Setting up your own private community – Large engaged focus groups that gives the company the ability to listen in and be engaged with others
  2. Beginning brand monitoring – Hiring companies or third parties to listen and watch the internet on your behalf and create summaries & reports of the information and results they obtain

(Bernoff, 2011)

Something I found extremely interesting about this chapter is how important it is to identify and resonate with your customers in ways other than simply “researching what you need to”.  In my industry (construction) we see this all the time.  You can go online and find out all the information you want, but its true when they say that the people giving feedback/reviews and interacting online are the ones that WANT to – not necessarily meaning what they have to say is always right.  We’ve done plenty of work with subcontractors who didn’t get along with certain clients, but have produced some of our best work yet. Surveys and review forums only tell you so much.  Its all about creating real authentic connections and communities with your consumers.

I also really connected with the statement “listening is perhaps the most essential neglected skill in business”.  How true is this?  I see this on a day-to-day basis in my industry.  It is the key to positive communication and yet people of all ages and all backgrounds seem to have the most difficulty doing it.  And when someone finally DOES listen….its amazing what can happen.  The textbook discusses 6 reasons why you need to get started on listening to your own organization:

  1. Finding out what your brand stands for
  2. Understand how buzz is shifting
  3. Save research money; increase research responsiveness
  4. Find the source of influence in your market
  5. Manage PR crises
  6. Generate new product and marketing ideas

(Bernoff, 2011)

I really like how they emphasize how listening is not something that starts one day and is spread throughout the company, it is something that takes a tremendous amount of time and should become a responsibility to everyone.  It needs to be apart of the company culture – not just a simple recommendation.

This topic can be applied to so many different examples in life, whether it be your work or personal life.  If you take the time to listen and truly understand what is happening, people would be surprised what they can learn about others as well as their company. I sit in meetings on a weekly basis where people are going back and forth about budgets, what equipment to use, whether or not they want to work with a certain vendor etc etc.  People forget to sit back and listen before cutting the person off & giving their own opinion.  Absolutely nothing gets accomplished.  I also see this happening in our collaborative relationships.  Suppliers or subcontractors that we work with will tell the managers information about something or an issue that is occurring and how to fix it, and instead of taking it seriously, listening to them and following the necessary steps to fix it, they let it fly and the SAME problem continues to happen in future.  Its so strange to me why people have such a difficult time with this.  Interesting to think about too.

In conclusion to this blog post, I think the major thing I have learned from a business point of view is that companies need to have particular departments who’s main goal is to listen and focus on the groundswell.  Better decisions will be made, communication will be improved, more valuable information will be obtained, customers will be better understood, and the company will be able to ultimately provide better for themselves and others.  Its not about taking complaints and denying them – its about measuring them and taking this customer feedback as a GIFT, rather than a curse..and this is something that I need to start realizing.  Don’t take it as an insult – take it as a way to improve next time.  LISTEN! The last paragraph of the chapter leads you into the next section which is obviously responding once you have listened.  I can’t wait to read more about this and learn how to respond to these situations and use these tools to your advantage.

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 2 – Chapter 3

 

 

Blog 2 – Chapter 3 – February 5, 2016

The Social Technographics Profile 

As we go through Chapter 3 we learn that the term “technographics” focuses on peoples technological behaviours – similar to demographics and psychographics.  Its a way to group people into certain categories depending on groundswell activities that they participate in – anything from blogging, social networking to users that simply listen and download music online.  Lets not forget that groundswell individuals are those who have the desire to connect, to create, to stay in touch, and to help each other.  There are seven major groups that users fall into, these seven categories include:

  • Creators
  • Conversationalists
  • Critics
  • Collectors
  • Joiners
  • Spectators and,
  • Inactives

(Bernoff, 2011)

Its also important to understand that people in different countries around the world have different technographic profiles.  For example, Europeans participation is similar to Americans, where as countries like China are more active in blogging, placing them in at the “creator” category.  Its important to understand these trends in order to better understand the target market within your industry. Knowing this will educate you on how to better attract consumers who live in different geographical areas around the world.  Its also important to understand the demographic differences which will also help you better understand the market you’re operating in.  For example, in the construction industry that I work in – many people are baby boomers and apart of the older generation that aren’t particularly technologically advanced.  It’s still important to understand that you can reach these consumers by knowing what web-based strategies are appropriate to mobilize your supporters.

Now we’ll get into another important question, which is why do people participate in the groundswell?  The answer to this is that there are several answers. Here are some of them:

  • They want to maintain friendships
  • They want to make new friends
  • They give in to social pressures from existing friends
  • They want to pay it forward
  • Their own personal impulse
  • To get creative
  • For validation and information reasons
  • To connect and share with people who have similar interests

(Bernoff, 2011)

With all of this being said, managers and organizations need to understand its not about figuring out all these motivations, but rather to find the levers you can pull to get your customers and employees to participate and connect with you.  The groundswell can become a huge part of your competitive advantage if you can measure its success and prove that it was worth it.

This is an interesting chapter because it touches on different points that I can personally relate to & that affect my industry on a day-to-day basis.  We deal with customers all around the world, and sometimes I speak to people in different countries who are calling to ask about basic information that is provided online.  I always ask….why didn’t they just go online instead of calling half way around the world to speak to me?  This chapter gives me insight to this, and its simply because people respond different to technology based on their age, where their from, or their history with technology and interacting with different organizations.  I use the computer to look up almost everything, and I need to be more understanding with individuals who might not be in the same category as “25 years old, uses technology for everything, forgets how to live without their computer or phone”.    Its also interesting to see how different countries vary in how they use groundswell.  Ive learned now that simply posting advertisements online will not get me to my target market in all these different places – instead I need to better understand the consumer (specifically where they are, their background, language, location etc) to reach them more effectively.  Here is my screenshot to show my target market: people looking to work in the construction industry with Robert B Somerville Co. (Utilities, pipeline work) These individuals are in the category  “Male – Canada – and ages 35-44”.

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Sources: 

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