Vivian's Blog

Tapping The Groundswell Inside Your Company

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So far in my blog, I have talked about social media by taking the consumer side. Despite the fact that building external social networks is vital to the growth of companies, nurturing the internal groundswell should also be a top agenda for firms. As a result, it is necessary for companies to think about the impact of social strategy on their internal users—employees. After all, they are the people who run the social tools to coordinate the external customer-oriented efforts.

In some senses, building internal social networks is more important for companies. There are several reasons.

First, your employees are the primary users of any newly implemented networking systems. Employees provide feedback to help companies fine tune the applications before making them available to external parties.

Second, most of your employees have become frontline workers by using technologies to connect with customers. Getting them participated into the groundswell inside the company will help prepare your employees for external groundswell in the future through educating them the power and speed of groundswell.

Third, this approach to management emphasizes the empowerment of workers to make decisions. With internal groundswell applications, employees can express their thoughts to colleagues and management directly and openly. Not only does this helps break down internal communication silos but also encourage collaboration among people throughout the company.

Best Buy put these insights at work and created an online community for its employees called Blue Shirt Nation. The community starts with listening to what employees had to say, moving gradually to support the business functions, and generating ideas as well as exploring great talent.


However, businesses must notice that the elements of cultivating internal groundswell are different from the external one. In building social networks within the enterprise, having management supports is a must.  And the supports I mean here include not only the money and authority given but also their personal involvement. Management need to model the way by using these social networking tools to talk with their subordinates to show that they are actively listening from them. The CEO of Razorfish, Clark Kokich, led his company through an acquisition without causing chaos because he used blogs and wiki to keep his employees informed. As a result, his subordinates were able to develop a high level of trust on him. I also found management involvement is necessary to align the company goals and employee insight together. Because management is able to turn the ideas from subordinates into action, employees are motivated to participate which enhances collaboration and contributes to ideas exchanges.


Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review press


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