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4 Ways to Start a Conversation in the Groundswell

In the past, companies spent extensively on advertising and public relations to advance their brand images, but these methods no longer work in today’s customer-oriented marketplace. Companies now get consumers marched down the path from awareness to purchase and loyalty, called the marketing funnel, by talking with the groundswell.

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Like many companies, KPMG employ different means to initiate a conversation in the groundswell. These methods include:

Post a viral video: KPMG has updated many corporate videos on YouTube regarding the culture, strategy, services, and events for visitors to watch and make comment.  The company also allows these videos to be shared among Facebook, blogs, twitters, and other social networking sites.  In order to drive traffic to the corporate site, KPMG has added the YouTube button on the webpage for easy access to these videos.

Engage in social networks and user-generated content sites: KPMG not only uses LinkedIn to access and recruit talent individuals, the company also creates a Facebook page to introduce the work life in KPMG, both the Summer intern and full-time staff, and twitter to answer questions from job seekers, college students and new graduate.

Join the blogshpere: In the United Kingdom, KPMG has engaged its senior partners and industry experts to blogging. By connecting the business leaders to the clients, it helps the company build a trust relationship with their clients. It also enables these leaders and the company to gain valuable insights in different topics by reading and responding comments.

Create a community: KPMG has launched online community for its affiliation in Africa. The accounting firm wants to educate the population on complex topics like infrastructure, regulation, healthcare and education, technology, etc., with goals to encourage participation and stimulate discussion among visitors.

As we can see, all four ways begin by addressing the awareness problem, they then move forward to tackle with problems regarding word-of-mouth, improving communication on complex issues or topics, and creating a network with the targeted audience.


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


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Groundswell Strategy

Defining Social Technolographics Profile

How to exploit Social Media as fully as possible poses a major challenge to many companies. To deal with such situation, market invented a new way to study the users of social media—the Social Technolographics Profiles. Different from the traditional market segmentation, this time researchers divide participants in the groundswell into subsets of consumers based on technology behaviors.

Understanding the Different Roles in Groundswell

The interests of groundswell participants may not be identical. An important task for companies, therefore, is to classify users according to their involvement in the groundswell. As illustrated in the diagram, participants can be categorized into six groups: Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators, and Inactives.


Each role represents the activities and explains the involvement level of people in the groundswell. The different activities and applications also reveal the many impulses that drive people to participate: from keeping or making friends to personal branding. As companies understand how social technologies are being adopted by any group of people, they can build an appropriate social strategy to advance their business agenda.

Putting Social Technolographics Profile in Practice

Based on the data on the Alexa website, browsers of are mostly high educated individuals between 25 to 34 years old. And according to Forrester Research, in general participation of this age group has a broader focus on Joiners and Spectators, 75% and 76% respectively in Canada. The US has roughly similar numbers. As a result, the company website should include social networks as its major feature. It also makes sense for KPMG to carry blogs, forums, and online videos–reactive forms of groundswell content on its website.  In fact, KPMG is doing a great job in this area. KMPG has been using Twitter feeds and Facebook page, LinkedIn and YouTube video to build connection with its partners, clients, and employees. In order to bring up the clicker rate of the younger group, the company also maintains a presence in Wikipedia so as to attract more attention to the business and the industry.




The YouTube video below provides an overview on how KPMG utilizes Social media to improve its business functions.


Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review press
KPMG. (2012, August 1). KPMG social media guideline: Think global think social [Video]. Retrieved from