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Tapping The Groundswell Inside Your Company

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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Energizing The Groundswell: Nurturing Relationships With Your Customers

Social media has transformed marketing from the traditional notion of “the campaign” to an automated, individualized and cross-channel interaction that works for companies and customers alike. The new dimension now draws global marketers to center the marketing efforts through building relationships with their stakeholders.  To make the relationship work out successfully, in addition to listening and talking in the groundswell, businesses energize the audience with actionable strategies.

An energized customer is a powerful asset to businesses because he or she markets the brands on behalf of companies for free.  BusinessPeople Marching with Bullhornses that run in a slow growth economy, in particular, found the contribution of vital importance. Most importantly, the crowd treasures word-of-mouth recommendations and this is why word of mouth is a powerful amplifier for brand marketing. Seeing the opportunity, companies use three techniques to turn these customers into evangelists of their products and services:

  • Tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews. Retail companies like Amazon are using feedback from customers as the main channel to market its products and services to existing and potential buyers.
  • Create a community to energize your customers. Toyota has launched an online community called Club Toyota in Canada for the car owners to share common problems and let members to educate each other for any related issue.
  • Participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts.  Apple makes use of the Apple Community to capture market attention and to bring in new ideas for products and services development.

Despite of all the benefits, energizing contains certain risk. As companies are dealing with actual customers, the situation is dynamic and may change at any time. To help companies deal with the challenges, groundswell guru Charlene Li and Jeff Bernoff have outlined 5 steps for energizers:

  1. Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell. Energizing only works well in a situation where customers share strong emotional ties with the products or services of the company.
  2. Check the social technographics profile of your customers. For companies whose sales target is seniors, energizing doesn’t seem feasible because the majority of them don’t have experience in social media.
  3. Ask yourself, “what is my customer’s problem?”  Companies have to frame the problems of customers neither too narrow nor too board in order to generate discussions.
  4. Pick a strategy that fits your customers’ social technographics profile and problems. Companies need to consider which energizing technique, ratings and reviews or communities, will make sense for their core supporters.
  5. Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul. Energizing the groundswell takes time and continuous efforts. Unless companies can make a long-term commitment, this should not be an agenda for their marketing plans.


Only if companies walk through these steps do they can advance their marketing programs to new levels and cultivate relationships with the customers in the rapid changing world.


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

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Untangle The Complexities: The Power of Groundswell Support

Have you ever encountered a problem in which your family and friends were unable to help? I bet many of us have experienced this before.  In such a situation, we panic and feel frustrated as seeing no one else can offer any assistance. And there is good news for any help seeker: we can now explore avenues of support in the groundswell.

There are two ways to launch support in the groundswell: forums and wikis.  In a forum, individuals serve a dual role; they can be help seeker and problem solver at the same time. Like the tradition support method, customers need to make available the details of the problems. However, under the new process, it is the customers but not the companies to provide answers to those questions.

images (community)

Companies and consumers both love the idea of support forum. From the customers’ standpoint, they no longer need to take a long wait for a solution. Instead of gaining help from a single person in a company, they now can get as many helps as possible on the web. For companies, the system helps reduce the support costs significantly. It also strengthens the brand image due to less complaint from customers. Companies, like Dell and Linksys, clearly profit by the groundswell support.

Similar to consumers, companies also need support from the groundswell and they obtain the collaborative power by introducing wiki to both internal and external parties.  Different from forum, wiki enables participants to get direct involvement into the development process. This, in turn, creates a win-win situation for companies and consumers.

With the groundswell support, companies can enhance their products features at a minimum cost. They may well be able to capture more market attention which brings in more sales. On the other hand, consumers are able to obtain their dreamt products. Most importantly, they are comfortable to spend money on the products because they feel valued and support given by the companies. As an example, BearingPoint is using wiki to create more business opportunities.

Yet, any form of community support doesn’t come naturally. There must be a reason that drives people to help others. This requires companies to hold the perspective of customers to look for the deeper cause—the desire of psychic income—using this element to create activities to drive traffic and links. The companies themselves must also become active participants in the community in order to make the support system work out successfully.


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

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On The Run: Social Media

What is Social Media

Social Media refers to “websites or applications that enable users to create and share content or to particiapte in social networking”. Social Media is termed as Web 2.0 application. Unlike the era of Web 1.0, in the Web 2.0 platform, the idea of content publishing comes from all users instead of a few individuals. In addition, communication can be made through a variety of channels and medium under social media. These methods include audio, video, text, forums, discussion boards, SMS, chatting, as well as blogging etc. As a result. Social Media can be seen as a depository of real time information because of its ability to collect and process information in massive scale.



Social Media in Business

Given the popularity and the great potential, people have brought Social Media into the business world. Many companies nowadays have integrated Social Media as part of their strategic plans; they use social media to increase their presence in the external environment as well as to strengthen their business functions internally.

Externally, companies see the opportunity of using social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter to raise brand awareness and build customer loyalty. They also use Blog or Discussion Forum to collect market opinions from audience through reviews and comments.

For Internal usage, these social media tools provide employees an informal way to dissimilate ideas and faciliate collaboration between departments. The tools also serve as medium to evaluate and improve employees’ performance. For example, IBM integrates Second Life into its leadership training program. Toyota also uses virtual games to engage not only customers but also employees to help design new products and services.

This video below outlines the potential of Social Media in Business:


However, the application social media cannot guarantee a market success for business, companies need to use their imagination and make efforts to explore market opportunity. As the guidelines, below are the top ten considerations for companies adopting Social Media

  1. Choose carefully
  2. Pick your application, or make your own
  3. Ensure activity alignment
  4. Media plan integration
  5. Access for all
  6. Be active
  7. Be interesting
  8. Be humble
  9. Be unprofessional
  10. Be honest



Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review press
Lawson, J. (2012, January 29). The social media revolution 2012: Why social business matters. [Video]. Retrieved from