Source material: groundswell by Li C., Bernoff, J
How important is the Groundswell? Well its arguably the most important thing in business. The best companies listen to their customers and users and form their entire company around that. They use the Social Technographics Profile they have constructed and kept updated to feed them quality information. It all starts with people (users and customers). Trying to start anywhere else would be like trying to start playing a game at the final boss and not knowing what the controls are. How are you going to plan to beat Big Bad Boss Character without knowing what exactly you’re supposed to do? So it is beyond important to figure this out and it all starts now.
1. People – What are your customers ready for? What do they want? How are customers going to engage in your company? Depending what industry you are in then it determines just how much time needs to be spent here. If you’re a tech company, ideas here are relatively standard. Apps, web pages, forums, social media, etc. Internet and mobile stuff. If you’re a consumer product such as a vacuum or running shoes, people might be more likely to engage in a 3rd party forum for user reviews/conversation than a social network you may set up on your own site.
2. Objectives – What are your goals? Are you trying to get marketing information via communication with the groundswell or are you trying to invigorate sales? Both? What about tapping your internal groundswell to find ideas to better your organizational design? What about finding out how employees think they may work more efficiently or with greater satisfaction? There is generally 5 main objectives that anything and everything can be linked into.
- Listening: Research and understanding of your customers. What do they expect? Can get very important insight for marketing and R&D.
- Talking: Spreading messages about your company. You talking to customers. This is more about disseminating your company and creating awareness much like advertising.
- Energizing: This is igniting conversation in others. Like poking and prodding, in the nicest way possible, to get others to share your company/message/product via word-of-mouth for brand selling.
- Supporting: Could be as simple as a FAQ. Could go the extra step and set up your own support and help forums/section on your website for either you to answer or other users to help each other.
- Embracing: The most challenging and should probably not be attempted if you haven’t aced 1 through 4 above. This is integrating your customers into your company and using their insights for R&D and marketing.
3. Strategy – How do you want things to change? What of the above 5 objectives are you trying to accomplish? Once this has been hammered out it also lets you set goals to judge whether or not you’ve been successful. Also you’ll have a better idea how to prepare your organization and which people to involve.
4. Technology – What applications are you going to use? What channels? Is it blogs? Wikis? Social networking? Most will involve a multitude of platforms throughout the process but picking the right ones at the start are crucial to successfully accomplishing your goal.
Some companies that are great at doing this are generally video game companies. When they create games they look at what people want for a game, what features, what experiences and try to find their own way to deliver that. Neatherrealm Studios did this when they rebooted the Mortal Kombat franchise in 2011 to great success. People wanted the game to get back to basics after the lore turned into a convoluted mess after Mortal Kombat: Deception.
The development team at Bioware is using feedback and consumer insight in developing Dragon Age: Inquisition. Fans liked parts of both the previous two main entries, Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2, and now Bioware is using that feedback to find the happy medium between both games on things such as environments, combat and character interaction. A lot of this feedback comes from Bioware’s own social network where members of the writing and development team are quite active.
Another good example of a company that underwent change after making a commitment to the groundswell was the WWE. In fact, the change in direction that involved social media and other outside inputs following this pipebomb from CM Punk is largely responsible for the re-invigoration of the company since 2011 when ratings and revenues had been on a continuous slide since 2006.
All these companies created POST process plans, maybe not in the exact words as this but likely in a very similar fashion, and have used it to do what their customers want.
And in the end, isn’t that the point?