Talking with the Groundswell

This week was all about talking with our customers, and not just shouting at them when it comes to advertising and communication. In 2009, marketers spent more than $400 billion on advertising , mostly on TV commercials (Li & Bernoff, 2011). This isn’t talking, this is shouting. Companies need to create personalized ways for communicating with their customers, instead of the old fashioned way of TV commercials which are becoming  ineffective.

The Marketing Funnel

Below is the marketing funnel concept, which describes how consumers go down the path from awareness to purchase and loyalty (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Advertisements, or shouting, brings people in to the funnel metaphor, and once they get to the middle, shouting doesn’t work at all (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Once customers are in the middle of the funnel, this is when companies need to reel them in with a personalized experience, which will hopefully bring in a purchase. Using the social media sites and communication forums we have discussed in previous blogs, companies can start conversations with current and potential customers, instead of shouting at them in commercials.


Techniques for Talking with the Groundswell 

Although there are many ways to talk with customers, below are four of the most effective ways to communicate, along with some examples within the hospitality industry!

  1. Post a viral video 

    Post a video and let people share it amongst their social media sites. A great example of a company who does this is West Jet. I’ve seen so many videos of amazing things they do for so many people, and although this isn’t advertising people to buy their flights, its a form of communicating in which people remember the amazing things they do and will more than likely choose their company over another.This video is one that’s close to home. The Fort McMurray wild fires brought so much devastation to so many people, so West Jet decided to host a Christmas party for them to release some stress and create memories with their family. They also threw in a free flight for everyone that attended! How amazing is that! This video was trending all over social media, which thousands of people saw. Yeah they gave away some flights, but image the publicity they got and how much more money they made by connecting and communicating with people on a personal level like that.

  2.   Engage in social networks and user generated content sites.

    Creating a social media presence online is a great way to extend your brand reach. A company that does really well with this is Taco Bell. They are all over Twitter replying to peoples tweets. Below are some examples of types of conversations they get into. They have a great sense of humour that so many people love!enhanced-buzz-23115-1342106429-8taco-bell-social-media
  3. Join the blogosphere.
    Empower your executives and staff to write blogs, and don’t just listen, talk! Responding back to comments and blogs is an integral part of the strategy (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

    Marriott International is one company that connects with their customers through a blogosphere called Marriott on the Move. This blog is written by Bill Marriott, the executive chairmen, and chairmen of the board for Marriott International, as well as the son of the founder of Marriott. Although he is in his 80’s, he realized that the world is changing to a heavily online presence, and the internet is a huge part of a companies success. He adapted to this change and is succeeding in it quite well through his blog. Goes to show you are never to old to join the online world!

  4. Create a community. 

    Communities are powerful ways to engage with customers and deliver value to them (Li & Bernoff, 2011). As long as you listen and don’t just shout, this is also a good way to market your brand (Li & Bernoff, 2011).


10 Tips for Successful Blogging

In Groundswell, Li & Bernoff (2011) give 10 tips to implement the strategy and goals you wish to accomplish. Remember to first start with the POST process before beginning.

  1. Start by listening.
  2. Determine a goal for the blog.
  3. Estimate the ROI.
  4. Develop a plan.
  5. Rehearse.
  6. Develop an editorial process.
  7. Design the blog and its connection to your site.
  8. Develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog.
  9. Blogging is more than just writing.
  10. Be honest.



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





Strategies for Tapping the Groundswell

This weeks reading was all about the POST process. POST stands for people, objectives, strategy, and technology. This is the foundation of groundswell thinking; a framework for creating a plan (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Breakdown of the POST Process

People – The technographics profile will come into play here. It’s important to understand how your customers will engage, based on what they’re already doing (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 67). We need to understand what our customers are doing in order to build the right strategy, otherwise we could be wasting our time and the whole strategy will fail.

Objectives – What goals and objectives do you want to achieve? There are five powerful objectives one could use in order to achieve your desired outcomes which include:

  1. Listening – Choose this goal if you are seeking customer insights to use in marketing and development (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  2. Talking – Choose this goal if you want to achieve a more interactive channel (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  3. Energizing – Choose this if your customer base already has a good following, and just want to improve the enthusiasm in your customers (LI & Bernoff, 2011).
  4. Supporting – This is great for companies with significant support costs and who have customers that support each other (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  5. Embracing – The most challenging, however best used if the company has already succeeded with the other goals (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Strategy – How do you want the relationship with your customers to change? How are you going to achieve your desired goals and objectives? You need to have a proper, well executed plan in place in order to achieve your outcome, and measure the success once the strategy is underway.

Technology – After you have decided on the people, objectives, and strategy, you can now decide what technology you are going to use. This technology would be that described in chapter 2 of The Groundswell, and includes blogs, wikis and social media sites (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Relating POST to the Hospitality Industry

In my future endeavours, I would like to be a HR manager in the hospitality industry, whether that be in a hotel or restaurant chain, I haven’t fully decided yet. I would like to show an example of the POST process relating to my industry, and to narrow it down I will choose a sports bar chain.


First we need to look at our technographic profile of our customers, which would be male or female, ages 18-25. This would be our target clientele. On the technographics ladder, they would most likely be conversationalists and joiners. They would participate across many social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, post frequently, engage in conversations, and maintain a profile (Li & Bernoff, 2011).


As this target market is heavily involved in social media, some objectives that would be considered include:

  • Engage in conversation with potential and current customers across social media platforms.
  • Listen and record what people are saying about the company, by tracking review sites and social media sites.
  • A marketing tool, as it is a free or cheap way to reach many customers. Share photos, events and information about the bar to engage potential and current customers.
  • As this is a sports bar, sharing information on sports stats and games would be good to incorporate also.

Most of the staff that work at the establishment would be around the same age of the target market (18-24), meaning they also would be heavily involved in social media. So it would be a good idea to get them involved as well on our social media pages and share information and events with their friends and followers.


In the hospitality industry, building relationships with customers is key to success. We will need to use our social media platforms to stay connected with them outside of the workplace. People get annoyed with your social media sites if all they see is a company trying to make sales. Engaging in meaningful conversations and interesting topics will keep customers engaged in the site. For example, we can post stories, sports stats, photos and videos of sports related content, and keep customers up to date on the latest news for local sports teams. This shows people that we are more focused on relationships than trying to get money out of them (even though that is a goal of course).


The types of platforms we will use include social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as review sites like TripAdvisor and Google reviews to monitor what people are saying about us. Our goal is to engage in conversations and update our customers on our business, so these types of platforms should be enough to do that. As long as we are keeping up to date and using them regularly, our groundswell strategy should work.


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

Users of the World Unite Article

In this article written by Kaplan & Haenlein (2010), it describes the concept of social media, the different categories of social media, as well as 10 pieces of advise for companies using social media. A concept that stood out for me the most was choosing the right social media site for your company, depending on what your products and industry are. There are hundreds of sites to use, however you need to ensure you are using the right ones in order to reach your specific target audience. As someone that will be using social media in future career paths, I need to make sure I am using the right sites for my company, which is why I decided to blog about this concept.

Social media is one of our main forms of communication in todays world. It’s how we stay up to date on our friends lives, get our news, network, or simply share what we had for lunch. As someone thats on social media every day whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Snapchat, I see how important it is to not only use these sites for your personal lives, but also from a company standpoint. Businesses need to have an online presence to stay up to date with new and existing clients, to advertise and network, or get the word out about new promotions or products. However, companies cannot be on all social media sites, as the ones I just listed are only a few of the many sites out there today. Companies need to be selective with the social media sites they use, “especially since ‘‘being active’’ is one key requirement of success” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, para. 18).

In relation to the hospitality industry which I am currently working in, social media is a great way to advertise, network and promote your business, as well because it is free! Being that our products are food and beverage, we need to use sites like Instagram (picture sharing site), to show case our delicious offerings, or even Facebook to network with people and advertise or promote our business. We can share/create events through Facebook, and have our clients follow our page to keep up to date on our business. As these two sites are heavily used, it is important to be active and interesting on these sites, and find things that interests our followers (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).

Another great tool is TripAdvisor. Although this is a review site, its nice to make an account through your business to respond to those who make reviews about your restaurant, good or bad! I know this through personal experience, as when I was an AGM for a hotel restaurant I would do exactly this and respond to all those who made a review. It shows you go that extra mile to either fix the problem at hand, or thank who ever made the review. Communication is key!

From a HR stand point, another great tool is LinkedIn, and this doesn’t matter what industry you are in. As a future HR manager, I would like to be heavily involved in LinkedIn to network and recruit candidates for employment. I would also be looking at other social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram when recruiting, as this can give you more of an insight into what the person is truly like. Being that LinkedIn is a professional social media site, it is also recommended to investigate in to other sites.

The article by Kaplan and Haenlein was written 7 years ago, and social media has come a long way even since this article was written. I think it is important to stay up to date with the ever changing technology, and ensure your company is utilizing these free and easy sites as ways of communication and promotion, no matter your industry. Know your clientele and know what their interests and desires are, as this will only help you have a successful online presence!

Kaplan, A.M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68.