Energizing Employees Using The Groundswell

This weeks blog posting is focused on getting the employees more involved with the business interactions by using aspects of the Groundswell. Bernoff and Li give three examples of companies who have used the Groundswell to energize their employees. First Best Buy and their Blue Shirt Nation website is highlighted. This website give employees a voice to talk to top management and each other to solve problems. Next the company Razorfish demonstrates the importance of corporate blogs to stimulate interactions within a business. The last company profiled is Bell Canada and shows how implementing a simple question and rating system for the employees has improved everyday business operations. The two companies strategies that Brewster’s could utilize would be Best Buy and Bell Canada.

            Blue Shirt Nation was created to give the sales associates at the Best Buy stores a voice in what was happening within the company. The marketing managers realized that the Best Buy “Blue Shirts” were the ones who would know the most about what was going on in the stores. They created a website where the employees could go and talk among themselves to help stimulate ideas and it also offered support from employees to employees. Brewster’s could benefit from implementing an employee site where they could go and talk to each other and offer suggestions to top management. This site would also be beneficial for employees that work at multiple Brewster’s locations because they can keep up to date with what is happening within each restaurant. The owners can also keep an eye on this site to see where improvements can be made within each restaurant. This site can also incorporate aspects from Bell Canada.

            Similar to Best Buy, Bell Canada realized that there were quite a few issues happening in their stores in regards to their retail employees. They decided to implement a program where employees can give suggestions on things they would like to change, other employees vote on if they like the idea or not, than the suggestions with the top votes go in for a review to see if they should be implemented. This has helped to energize the employees and give them a voice within the company. Brewster’s could add this feature to the site where employees go to interact with each other to try and better the restaurants on the employee level. This could lead to better service to customers and happier employees in the long run.  

Reference:

Li, C. & Bernoff, J.  (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing

Energizing the Groundswell

This weeks post is a little late, but we well be addressing how companies can energize their customers in the groundswell. The main point that Bernoff and Li are making during this section is that the most effective way to advertise your company is by word-of-mouth-marketing. Word-of-mouth-marketing happens best when the customers are energized and happy with the business. Bernoff and Li also suggest there are three different ways to make your customers enthusiastic about your business.

  • Tap into the enthusiasm with ratings and reviews: This is demonstrated in the book by the company Ebags who has a ratings and reviews section right on its website. Every item that can be purchased from the website has a section where with a couple clicks, the customer can see every review that has been written about this. This gives Ebags the opportunity to look at the reviews and fix the problems as soon as they can, or to have the manufactures fix the problems if that’s where they are occurring. This tactic helps to give the customers the will to say what ever they want, which in turn energizes them to give great word-of-mouth-reviews. Brewster’s could do something similar by having a review area right on their website that other customers could see. They are active on the site Urbanspoon.com but this is less effective because it is not directly on their website. They could also create a mobile phone app where users can log on while in the restaurant to rate and review the beers.
  • Create a community to energize your customers: Creating a community worked really well for the company Constant Contact. Bernoff and Li describe this company as one that lets other companies use it to send off emails to customers letting them know important information about the company. The way that Constant Contact is different is that customers are able to unsubscribe to the emails whenever they feel the need to, and they state that every contact must be obtained with that contacts permission. They are successful because people can also use these emails to refer their friends to get credits, which helps to energize the people using the email system. Brewster’s could send out a monthly email letting people know of menu changes or the beer rotations that are coming in. People would be able to subscribe to this email on their website and could get coupons for discounts on food or free drinks etc when they refer a friend to the monthly email. This well help the word-of-mouth because regular customers would love the chance to get discounts on food when they know that they are already going to be spending money there anyways.
  • Participate in and energize online communities of your brand: This point emphasizes the point that using online forums to hear what the customers are saying about the products. This point relates back to Lego and how they have used their online forums to listen to what the customers are saying, and even to get them to participate in creating new products. This energizes the customers because it gives them a voice and a say about what is happening within the Lego Company. Brewster’s would use the above noted strategies, review section on the website and monthly emails, to here what the customers are saying and to respond to what they are saying. They could use this feature to bring back menu items that lots of customers are asking for or to reevaluate service being given at their restaurants.

Bernoff and Li also state that to prepare for this change, energizing the groundswell, the management team must change its way of thinking. Which can be done in five steps: Figuring out if you want to energize, checking the customers social technographics profile, finding out the customers problem, picking a strategy that fits the needs of the social technographics profile, and not starting until it can be seen through until the very end. These steps well help to energize the customers and make word-of-mouth advertising easier to accomplish. Below is a short video of Josh Bernoff talking about energizing the groundswell.

 

 

Reference:

Li, C. & Bernoff, J.  (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing

Twitter and the Groundswell

This week we will look at how companies can use twitter to interact with the groundswell. First we well address the question: what is twitter? Twitter is a social media site where users have 140 characters or less to update what they are doing or to get a point across to people who have taken an interest in their twitter feed. Twitter has six different elements that makes it successful, they are: Followers, hash tags/searches, mentions/retweets, links, lists, and apps/tools. All of these elements help the users to create an interesting post without going over the 140-character limit. Bernoff and Li give examples of how twitter can help the company with the objectives and interacting with the customers.

  • Listening: Bernoff and Li suggest that twitter really only works properly if the company is able to listen to what people are saying by checking hash tags and watching trends that could include anything to do with the business. After listening, they should adjust the business operations to fit what the consumers are saying. Brewster should use twitter to see how satisfied customers are with the products. If consumers are upset about missing menu items, they may tweet it. They also could use this to see where the majority of their customers that use twitter are located.
  • Talking: This section suggests that if the company isn’t going to get involved with twitter and answer back to their customers, it is basically useless for them to have an account. This means more needs to be done than just posting links to blogs or journals. The company needs to post things such as daily specials, or coupons to give the customers discounts. Brewster’s is already doing an okay job with this. Their Oliver Square locations twitter account is active constantly notifying customers about what is happening in the restaurant daily (see photo below). They could improve by having all their locations twitter feeds updated on a daily basis.
  • Energizing: To use twitter to energize the customers by making what they say heard. For twitter users this can include something as simple as retweeting your followers tweets and answering to them to show that what they say matters to the company. Brewster’s needs to use this to address more of what people are saying about them on twitter. All they have to do is type Brewster’s into the search menu and see who all has used the word Brewster’s in their posts. They can then rewtweet the good tweets, and respond to the bad ones.
  • Supporting: This objective also involves responding to customer concerns, but more on the service side. This helps people to be able to avoid making phone calls to the companies, they can just tweet their problem and someone will respond to the tweet with a solution to their problem. Companies that do this successfully have a staff that is assigned to answer these tweets as a full or part time job.
  • Embracing: This is the hardest of the objectives to do through Twitter because the posts need to be very short. Bernoff and Li suggest the best way to embrace the customers is to drive them to surveys through their tweets. This can help to drive people to company websites where more can be said than through twitter. Brewster’s should use more links in their posts to their website which is more informative about what is happening for daily specials and things they are doing to benefit the community.

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https://twitter.com/BrewstersOliver

Reference:

Li, C. & Bernoff, J.  (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing

Using the Groundswell as a support tool

This weeks discussion on the Groundswell well address the possibility of using the Groundswell to help support the company and the consumers of the product or service. Bernoff and Li give some very interesting examples of how using the Groundswell for support issues can in fact save companies money in their book titled Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social media. The first interesting case that they talk about is CarePages that is a blog that is linked to all family and friends of a hospital patient. This blog/support forum sends messages to all family and friends when the blog is updated by the patient helping to keep everyone informed without having to constantly be making phone calls or writing individual emails. For anyone with a sick family member CarePages makes this communication so much easier. CarePages also has a forum where people can interact with each other regardless of them being family or friends for things such as information on sickness or help finding organ donors such as a young woman has posted (photo below). The next really interesting case is that of Dell’s support forum. This forum is where customers can go and ask questions that can be answered by other Dell customers or anyone who knows the answer to the asked question. It is noted in the book written by Bernoff and LI that this particular support forum where Dell doesn’t have to answer that questions through phone calls has saved them almost $1 million from just one-person posting answers. Both of these types of support forums have ensured customer happiness without investing tons of money.

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Cilla_Diane. (Composer). (2013, October 17). Looking for a kidney donor [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from http://www.carepages.com/forums/health-conditions/topics/80062-looking-for-kidney-donor

Bernoff and Li also outline some advice for starting a support community for a company.

  • Start small, but plan for a larger presence: Starting with just one product line before expanding to the other ones offered by the company
  • Reach out to your most active customers: Find out through such things as surveys how the consumers would prefer to participate in the support community.
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community: Find different ways to get consumers to go to your support forum such as advertising it on business cards or on phone messages.
  • Build a reputation system: Implement a way that allows for a customer who post often and who’s posts answer the most questions to become more “credible” in the support forum.
  • Let your customers lead you: Having a section that allows for customers to post on company improvements will allow for greater customer satisfaction in the long run.

 

Keeping all this in mind, developing a support forum for Brewster’s Brewing Company will be quite simple. First, they should focus on creating a support forum for users to ask questions and critique the beers that Brewster’s creates and has on tap. This forum will allow for consumers to post ratings on the beers, give their personal critique on the flavors, and answer questions about what the beers taste to in comparison to domestic brands on the market. This forum will be available on the company website, and should also have a “mobile” version or an app that will allow customers to visit this site while in the restaurants. The forum will be advertised on the beer menus that are provided to every table and also recorded on a hold message for customers who are calling the restaurant. The forum should also have a section where posters can let others know how much the frequent the restaurant and drink the beers. This will help to promote the credibility of the users because those who drink more of the beer should have a better-formed opinion of what is good or not. And lastly, of course there should be a thread in the forum where people can post directly to the Brewster’s head brewers and state what they like or do not like from the Brewster’s line, and also post suggestions for new beers they would like to try from Brewsters. Implementing all these suggestions will create a successful support forum for the company.

Reference for Bernoff and Li

Li, C. & Bernoff, J.  (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing

Talking with the Groundswell!

Objectives are one of the steps in the POST process as was previous stated. This step involves figuring out the end goal of using the groundswell and why you are going to use the groundswell to get there. One of the techniques that can be used for this step is talking; this step involves spreading the companies’ message to the consumers. Bernoff and LI suggest that there is a difference between marketing and talking to the consumers, the difference is that talking involves engaging with the customers almost one on one through social media where marketing involves talking to the mass market through such things like television commercials. A great example of this is the “Will it blend” video series that was created to raise awareness about the new blenders created by Blendtec. These videos have been extremely successful and are still being made. Below is a “Will it blend?” video on the Ipad which was created three years ago and has over 16 million views.

 

 

Bernoff and Li also suggest that there are four popular ways to get talking with the groundswell and they are; post a viral video, engage in social networks, join the blogosphere, create a community. We well look at them in greater detail below.

  • Post a viral video: This involves posting a viral video online and allowing people to share it (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Brewsters Brewing Company can easily do this with their craft beer line. They can take weekly or monthly videos explaining the new beer creation and even put real peoples reviews on the beer in the video. This will drive curiosity to the company and get the customers more engaged with what is going on within the restaurant.
  • Engage in social networks and user generated content sites: Create a personality within social network sites such as Myspace, than turning it into a conversation (Bernoff & Li, 2011).  Brewsters could create a Facebook page that they need to be constantly active on. They could use this to get reviews from customers on what they like about the restaurants and what they don’t like.  They need to listen and than talk back to what the consumers are saying to generate a good conversation.
  • Join the blogosphere: Empower executives or staff to write blogs, while also responding to others blogs (Bernoff & Li, 2011). By having staff write blogs that are available to find through the company website will help the consumer to relate and feel more around the staff when they need to interact face to face. Brewsters should have the executives writing blogs that are tailored to having customers getting to know all about what the company philosophy is and why they do the things they do as a company. This is going to help people have a better understanding of why prices are set and how the company comes up with its ideas for beer or food flavors.
  • Create a community: This is one of the hardest things to do because it involves being able to speak to and listen to the consumers without ever shouting at them through means such as television (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Proctor and Gamble was able to do this by creating a site that was about more than just tampons, it was about all things that young girls needed to know but felt uncomfortable to ask, and all things that they wanted to talk about but had no one to listen (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Brewsters could expand their website to include links to blogs and websites that could relate to other things like different foods or other craft breweries. Being able to talk to and promote things other than just your own product is going to help to create that sense of community among people. 

Reference 

Li, C. & Bernoff, J.  (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing

POST Process

The planning process that should be used to build a groundswell strategy is called the four-step POST method. POST stands for people, objectives, strategy, and technology.

  • People: People asks the questions about what your consumers are ready for. This refers to the social technographics profile and being able to predict and figure out where your consumers fit into the social technographic profile so you know the best way to reach them through the groundswell. By looking at what they are already doing and using tools such as the one found at groundswell.forrester.com will save you from guessing wrong which could harm the success of this step.
  • Objectives: This step refers to figuring out what your end goal is and what your reasons are for using the groundswell. There are five different ways that companies can pursue the groundswell and they are listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing. Listening is used to better understand the consumers, talking to spread your message to consumers, energizing to excite consumers about your business, supporting to help customers interact with each other, and embracing to get your customers involved with your company. Choosing one of these and entering the groundswell with a good objective/strategy will help in creating success.
  • Strategy: This step is recognizing the change that is going to happen upfront so measuring them will be easier once the strategy is implemented. This step also needs the business to get buy-in from their employees so that everyone can be on the same level and no one will feel threatened by the change in relationships.
  • Technology: The last step is deciding which form of the groundswell you are going to use to reach your customers such as blogs, social networks etc. This step should only be done once you have completed the other three to ensure the form of technology you will be successful.

Following and knowing these steps will help anyone to get involved with the groundswell and for the efforts to be successful. Below is a summarization of the POST process as shown by forrester.com.

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Bernoff, J. (Designer). (2007, October 11). The POST Method: A systematic approach to social strategy [Print Graphic]. Retrieved from http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2007/12/the-post-method.html

As was previously noted, the majority of the Brewster’s consumers are considered spectators. Spectators are people who just watch, read, and listen to what others are posting on blogs, wikis, and YouTube. Because of this a good objective Brewster’s can take is to energize their consumer. They can make blog and video posts that their consumers can follow that would inform about things happening within the company such as daily specials, or special promotions that are happening. The first two steps of the POST process have been accomplished at this point. The next areas that will need to be addressed will be creating a strategy, and deciding on the best technology to use to reach the customers.

Reference for POST process

Li, C. & Bernoff, J.  (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing

Transforming Your Company Using The Groundswell

This week I looked at how the process of using the groundswell in various aspects of your company can transform how your company operates. One of the first concepts illustrated in the Groundswell book by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff is that there are three important pieces to using the groundswell to transform your company. They are: take things step by step, each step should lead to the next step, and have executive support (Bernoff & Li, 2011). These steps well help to make the transition of using the groundswell easier.

The book also mentions two cases, the Dove real beauty campaign and Dell Computers. Dove used the groundswell to launch a video on YouTube that was viewed by millions during its time (Bernoff & Li, 2011).  The link below will take you to the YouTube video that was posted by Unilever. This worked really well because it was cost effective and they did it at a time when people were just starting to discover social media sites and they were excited about this new medium to share ideas.

With Dell, their issue was they didn’t have anyone to properly address angry customers and their concerns with Dell products (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Another place that Dell fell short was being able to admit that they were wrong to the customers to try and fix the problems (Bernoff & Li, 2011).  Below is a screen shot of a posting on the Dell website from a customer having problems and how the groundswell may have helped to solve his problem. After Dell was able to follow the three steps and take things step by step, having each step lead into the next, and getting the support of the top executives (Bernoff & Li, 2011) they were able to properly utilize the groundswell to change their company for the better.

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Bernoff, J., & Li, C. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Massachusetts: Forrester Research, Inc.

Listening to the Groundswell

After figuring out the different streams of social media that your target market is using, the next step is to listen to what your market is saying or how they are reacting to posts on those sites. This can be done by questionnaires or observing blog posts and noting what patients are saying negatively about a company, like Ellen Sonnet, the marketing director of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, did when she wanted to understand how cancer patients choose which treatment facility they go to. By listening, she has been able to have more power within the company to make decisions and has gotten recognition within the marketing world. Another example is how the marketers for the Mini Cooper were able to promote consumer engagement by sending out secret messages to be decoded that lead to rallies for the owners of the cars. To be able to successfully listen to the groundswell, there are four things to keep in mind to succeed at listening (using the previous company, Brewster’s Brewing Company as an example):

1. Check the social technograpics profile for your customers: This is important because you need to know where to listen to your customers at. Are they mostly creators? Or are they mostly collectors? For the case of Brewster’s, they are mostly spectators and joiners, but a few are also creators and many are critics. That means brand monitoring is important because these people are going to react to things happening by commenting on blogs etc. more than anything else.

2. Start small, think big: This refers to the fact that monitoring all your brands at once can be very expensive, and it is better to start by monitoring just one branch of the brand and than expand into their other brands. Brewster’s recently shut down one of their restaurants to open up another one under a different name. After only a few months this restaurant was shut down and after some searching I found reviews on the urban spoon (a site where people can post reviews about restaurants), and the majority of them were negative. Fortunately, the Marketing team responded to every comment and they listened to the groundswell, shut down the restaurant, and are in the process of reopening under the same name as before. Below is a snap shot of a customers review, and how the management team handled it.

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Although the response was small, the effort was large. The company changed its whole policy to accommodate and hopefully win back the customer by trying to make their next visit more enjoyable. 

3. Make sure your listening vendor has an experienced team to handle situations: This means that making sure not only the CEOs of the company are able to handle the situations, but also the employees that may be having to handle the customers need to be properly trained in these areas as well. In a restaurant when a customer is unhappy, it is usually the manager on duty at the time that is responsible for dealing with the unhappy customers, not the CEOs. By having fully trained managers, such things are bad Internet reviews can be easily avoided.

4.Choose a senior level employee to interpret the information and integrate it with other sources: This point reflects the need to actually do something useful with the information that is collected. For Brewster’s, they took the bad reviews from the customers and changed their policies, such as eating all the fries before getting new fish, and eventually just closed the restaurant and reopened as it was before. This is going to help them continue to have the positive support from their existing customers.

It is extremely important to be able to listen to what your customers are saying on the groundswell. It helps to prevent bad reviews, understand why your customers are choosing the products that they are, and helps to prevent brands being introduced that could ruin a reputation. 

The Social Technograpic Profile

Have you ever wondered about the many different ways people are able to participate in the growing world of the groundswell? Or how to group them all into segments so you can better reach your target market while using social media applications? Well understanding the social technographic profiles of the people using your site will answer these questions.

A social technographic profile contains two parts, the social or people-to-people activities, and the “technograpic” which is the Forrester Research model that focuses on technology behavior. Using this profile helps to group people into their categories of groundswell participation; creators, conversationalists, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, and inactives. Creators are the people who publish the blog posts on a regular basis, while converstaionalists are the people who respond to those posts or have back and forth conversations at least weekly. Critics are the people who post ratings and reviews online, where collectors’ bookmark sites and use RSS feeds. The next group joiners have online profiles and is the fastest growing group out of all of them. Spectators just look at and read what everyone else is posting, and lastly inactives are the people who do not participate at all in the groundswell. But how can this information be used?

I find this information extremely valuable if you are able to collect the data about your target markets and their groundswell participation. If you do a survey and realize that the majority of your market is inactive, maybe advertising on social media sites would be the wrong thing to do. What if your market is mainly based on critics? You would know to watch these sites for potential posts about your products that could harm your reputation. To show an example of how your technograpic profile may look, I’ve included one that would fit for a company I profiled earlier, Brewsters Brewing Company. Their target is male or female, Canadian, and between the ages of 25-34.

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From this we can see that the greatest number of people in this category is a spectator, which means they are watching and reading what everyone else is doing online. This could be used to the companies advantage because they could be regularly updating a blog or their website. This also reinforces a point I made in an early assignment that they could benefit from having a YouTube Channel that posts new videos about their beers or how they make their beers. Overall, it is very important to know where your target market falls in the social technograpic profile if you want to successfully use social media sites to promote your business. 

Users of the World Unite!

 

 

 

 

 

The article titled users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media, by Andreas M Kaplan* and Michael Haenlein, talks about what social media is, and the challenges of using social media in today’s world. According to the article, social media is the act of using creation and exchange of content generated by users on Internet applications. The challenges faced in social media depend on which type of social media application is being used. For example, when using blogs its important to watch for customers who are dissatisfied with products who use blogs to complain. The next challenge falls into the same category, but involves employees who use blogs and may write negative things about their companies. The article also gives some points about using social media that include: choose carefully, pick the application, ensure activity alignment, integrate your media plan, and have access for all people. Reading this article has given me some insight into using social media in my future career.

 

I found this article interesting because social media is becoming a huge part of the business world because so many people are using it on a regular basis. Throughout attending NAIT, the point about using social media to further a business and to use social media as a free advertising tool has been emphasized. I feel that these points are important to know because of a picture I found that shows the statistics of adults who are using social media and how those numbers have grown in the last few years (see below). Having this information is going to help my career as a manager or business owner because I well be able to utilize social media to my advantage.

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(Brandignity, Percent of online adults using social media* Monthly, by age)

I plan to use social media to advertise for free in the future. I feel that this is the most beneficial aspect for a business to have because it is low cost and can reach a large number of people in a short amount of time. Also by the results of the chart, 98% of people aged 18-24 are using social media sites in 2010, which means that in 2013, that number may be even higher. I think that social media is a very interesting new application and I’m excited to dig deeper into it and learn how to use it to my advantage in the future. 

Brandignity. (Producer). Percent of online adults using social media* Monthly, by age [Web Graphic]. Retrieved from http://www.brandignity.com/2011/10/social-media-statistics/