By Saadia Muzaffar
I recently read Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li’s book Groundswell, which makes a case for the true business value of social technologies. Here’s why it’s a must-read if you are struggling whether your business needs to develop a social media strategy:
What is the groundswell?
By definition, groundswell is a buildup of opinion or feeling in a large section of the population. You can see how this applies to social technologies that now enable consumers to connect amongst themselves and shift thought-leadership from companies and their PR-led advertising campaigns to opinions on the ground through
Wikis, Facebook, Twitter, reviews, ratings, and blogs.
Why do most established businesses consider groundswell a threat?
Customers are now reviewing products on blogs and re-cutting millions of dollars’ worth of carefully crafted commercials into caricatures of themselves on YouTube. They’re defining companies on Wikipedia and shoring up to support and egg each other on in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. All of these constitute a social phenomenon — the groundswell — that has created a permanent, long-lasting shift in the way the world works. Most companies see it as a threat because its taken the autonomy away from them, their message about what they do is no longer fully controlled by them.
Why should it be harnessed?
1) Learning to ride the groundswell will allow you to gain insights from your consumers like never before. Raw. Personal. Undeliberated. This should create a wealth of innovation – rapid prototyping, failure and adaptation.
2) It is NOT about what technology or platform you use, rather what do you want for it to do for your business? Is your main objective to energize your consumers? To gain feedback? To build loyalty? To reposition? Answers to these strategic questions are needed first, technologies merely enable relationships.
3) There is no singular or prescribed ‘right’ way to do it. Spend the time to understand your audience and be prepared to tweak and fall and dust yourself and get up again. There’s no turning back. You can’t sit this one out. Companies who will win and win big will be the ones who decide to re-evaluate how they converse with their consumers and employees and ride the wave.
Is your business ready to thrive?
Saadia joins the RIC team as the Operations Coordinator responsible for building and execution of activities that fulfill RIC’s mandate. She brings several years of relationship management, corporate communications and operations experience mainly from the financial services industry.