Tapping the Groundswell with Twitter

Twitter is one of the easiest, but powerful social media sites that is available to us right now. Twitter is now an essential part of the groundswell, and all companies that want to have an online presence should get on Twitter and start up some conversations; In 140 characters that is. However, “the richness that Twitter packs into these tiny updates is amazing” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 197).

Here are some elements that makes Twitter so unique to the groundswell:

  • Followers: Twitter also people to connect with whoever they want, which forms connections quickly, and enables people to develop followers in the thousands or hundreds of thousands (Li & Bernoff, 2011).


  • Hashtags and Searches: Hashtags are more precise than other searches, and because by default they are public, it makes them searchable (Li & Bernoff, 2011). This makes it super easy for people or companies to see what people are talking about.


  • Mentions and Retweets: Twitter makes it easy for people to reply or reference another Twitter user within a tweet, simply by using the @ symbol, along with the users Twitter name (Li & Bernoff, 2011). As for retweeting, this allows you to share others messages at the simple click of a button, and allows for ideas to spread virally, really fast (Li & Bernoff, 2011).


  • Links: Only having 140 characters makes links very convenient in your tweet. This could include links to articles, blogs, websites that you want to share with your followers, and gives more space to write something along with it! You can also shorten links using a URL shortener, like this one.


  • Lists: Twitter added the ability to create lists of people you follow and share them (Li & Bernoff, 2011). This allows you to organize your followers and share this information with others, so they may follow them too.


  • Apps and Tools: One of the best tools for Twitter users is TweetDeck. A free application that links with your Twitter account, to see your news feed, messages, and notifications across one full size screen in real time. This allows for better organization and engagement. Below is an example of my personal TweetDeck.

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Twitter and the Five Groundswell Objectives

As we’ve talked about before it’s important to listen and talk with your customers online. Every company needs a primary objective, however being ready for anything is always a good thing. Here’s how to use Twitter for each of the groundswell objectives:

  • Listening to Twitter – Someone should always be monitoring this, and keep track of what people are saying about your company and products. Look at trends people are tweeting about, and identify if any influential people are talking about your products.
  • Talking to Twitter – Get involved and start talking with people, just listening isn’t always going to work. Respond to questions and concerns, retweet interesting things your followers might like, and market your business. But don’t overload your feed with advertisements as this could annoy your followers.
  • Energizing with Twitter – This starts with listening, and enables you to find those you want to energize. This includes people that like your product and current follow you. Energizing simply means responding to fans and retweeting them, as well as giving them content to tweet about (Li & Bernoff, 2011). People will get excited if a big named company starts following them and retweeting things they are saying, it gives them a following too!
  • Supporting with Twitter – More companies are using Twitter as a means for support, by answering customer inquiries, questions and concerns. Instead of waiting on long drawn out phone calls, people resort to tweeting to the company in order to get the answer they need.
  • Embracing with Twitter – collaborating with customers on products or marketing strategies can be the toughest objective, however can be beneficial (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Twitter makes it even harder, as there are only 140 characters available, and be able to gather a big enough following. Driving customers to partake in surveys along with an incentive to do so will help this spread. Asking people for new ideas will also help them feel empowered, and keep the conversation going on your Twitter.

What to Include in Your Twitter Strategy

Below are a list of things to incorporate into your Twitter strategy to help in succeed.

  1. Lock up your handle
  2. Listen first
  3. Be ready to support people
  4. Follow others
  5. Be ready for a crisis
  6. Respond, retweet, link
  7. Staff it
  8. Check with legal and regulatory staff
  9. Having gathered a following, don’t waste it


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

Listening to the Groundswell

In chapter 5 of Groundswell, Li & Bernoff (2011), explain how listening to consumers, or in other words, market research, helps businesses understand what customers want, what they like, and what the business can improve on. We were introduced to two successful examples from the NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network), and MINI, that used the idea of listening to help promote and drive business. These companies used market researchers and surveys to figure out what their customers were saying about their company.

We were also introduced to the idea that “your brand is what your customers say it is.” (Li & Bernoff, 2007, pg. 78). By listening to your customers you will be able to figure out what they think about you brand, and what they associate with it. Ricardo Guimaraes, founder of Thymus Branding, explains that “brands belong to customers, not companies.” (pg. 78). I do agree with this, as you don’t have a business without customers, and they are the ones that are buying into your product to keep you going. Companies create this idea of a brand, in hopes of something that they want to be. Now, they can go get the best quality products and market as much as they want, but if customers don’t buy into it, then there’s no value to it. Customers are the ones that are buying the products, and if they like it, will market for you by word of mouth, by writing reviews or blog posts, and will continue to buy your product; that is value. If it’s a bad product and no one buys it, no matter how much time, money and energy you put into it and how great you think it is, if customers don’t like it then it’s a dead brand with no value. Again, this all comes down to listening to what your consumers are saying about the products, and working with their feedback to improve or stabilize your products.

When it comes to the restaurant industry, we can listen to our consumers by monitoring our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), as well as the obvious review sites like TripAdvisor or Google Reviews. Review sites are becoming more and more popular to write good or bad reviews, and by listening to what customers have to say on these sites, we can figure out where the issues are and what we are doing right. Not only is it important to listen, but also to respond and create a solution to problems being presented to us. By taking the time to respond to these reviews on these sites, we are showing our customers that we care about their opinion, and can hopefully resolve the situation.

Unless you are a huge restaurant franchise that is bringing in sufficient revenues to invest in these companies that do market research for you, then it can be quite out of the budget. Although the information is very useful, it is a little pricey for most restaurants to use. Managers also don’t have thousands of hours to search through sites to see what customers are talking about, as the restaurant industry is very hands on and time consuming. Managers should however still be listening to their customers, and set time aside to search the internet in hopes of finding helpful information and reviews. Some tips from Groundswell (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 93-96), to improve your listening include:

  • Find out what your brand stands for and how people perceive it.
  • Understand how the buzz is shifting, by what people are talking about.
  • Find out who is influencing your market the most, and on what sites people are talking the most.
  • Manage crisis early to avoid them spreading, and resolve situations sooner rather than later.
  • Figure out your technographics profile of your customers
  • Dedicate certain people\to manage this online presence, preferably one with expertise.

If your company has the money and resources to invest in expert companies that can manage this online listening, then great, invest in it and use it to your advantage, as this will only benefit the company and the consumers. If the company doesn’t have the money to do this, then using the simple tips listed above will help improve your listening and help you improve the service for your customers. Simply scanning social media and review sites will be a great place to start listening to your customers!


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