Reading Response — Chapter 6

This chapter focused on talking to the groundswell, which is the next step after listening. Overall, this chapter did a good job reiterating that it is important to first listen to the groundswell and then talk to it. There is no point in talking to the groundswell if you don’t listen in the conversation about your business or products. This chapter also stated how important it is to not shout at the groundswell, but rather have a conversation with those talking about your company and answering them in a timely and orderly fashion. The best way to talk with the groundswell is to post viral videos, to engage in social networks and user-generated content sites, to join the blogosphere and to create a community. A blog should generates high visibility, answers customers’ questions, heads off PR problems and offers insight through customer feedback. However, the best way to start a successful blog is to know whom you want to reach and exactly what you want to accomplish. The chapter also stressed the importance of either creating a community for your customers or to join a community your customers already created. This will help you better communicate with your audience. Blogs work best for big companies, technology companies, and companies that sell multiple products. The chapter also stated that viral videos are best for solving an awareness problem that you may have because it can punch through the noise. This was what I took away from talking with the groundswell, but the author ended the chapter well when he said: “The conversation will evolve continuously. Even as the technologies change, the basic conversational nature of those technologies will remain central. If you learn to talk, listen, and respond, you’ll master [talking with the groundswell].”


Reading Response — Chapter 5

Reading this chapter on listening to the groundswell has really helped me contextualize the different tools and tactics that can be used to energize a customer base because it all starts with listening. In this chapter, the author stresses that a company’s brand or product isn’t what the company says it is, but what the customer says it is. The best way for a company to figure out what customers are saying about its brand or product is by listening to them—online, in forums, or even surveys. However, this chapter stresses that this is different from market research, which strictly gathers information, because listening provides the company with insight to what the customer is doing and thinking. While gathering insight is important, it should be noted that using the groundswell to listen to customers is not an accurate representation of a company’s customer base because the groundswell only includes those talking about the company. Every company will have spectators and joiners who only use social media and the Internet to gather information, not to post their thoughts and opinions. This chapter also stresses that to profit from listening, a company has to act on what it learns. For example, in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Ellen Sonet, the vice president of marketing for New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, learned the various places where cancer patients went to obtain information on treatment options and that most patients trust their primary care physician the most with this information through listening. This helped the company strategize where to put their information in a place so patients will find it and read it. The chapter also mentions that while there hasn’t been any proof—yet— that listening to the groundswell increases sales, researchers are beginning to see a positive correlation between the two. For all these reasons, companies should listen to the groundswell because it can benefit them by: finding out what their brand stands for; understanding how buzz around their brand or product is shifting; saving money on research; finding the sources of influence in their market; managing crises; and generating new product and marketing ideas.   

Reading Response — Chapter 11

This chapter really drove the point home that when a company uses social media, it has to accept that it has to let go of control and trust its creativity to engage in the groundswell. To initiate the “letting go” process, a company should create a groundswell within itself to get employees on board with groundswell thinking. The best way to go about this is by taking the process step by step because developing groundswell thinking requires “a mental shift” and “building a repertoire of shared successes.” Then, the chapter brings the point home again stating that companies have to give up control of the brand message when they begin to engage in the groundswell. Dove’s “evolution” video is a great example of a company losing control of its brand message. The beauty company exposed the truth about commercial photo shoots and Photoshop, even though it is part of the cosmetics industry. This chapter also emphasized the importance of having a vision and plan before a company should begin engaging and energizing the groundswell. The authors summarized this point well by stating: “The simplest way to do that is to describe what the relationship with your customer will feel like in the future. You won’t necessarily know what technologies you’ll use, or what kind of message you’ll have, but you should have a vision of the kind of conversation you want with your customers.” This chapter also stresses the importance of having individuals lead groundswell initiatives, which may include persuading executives and higher-ups to support groundswell thinking. Reading the case studies about Unilever and Dell were really beneficial because it shed light on how a company should and should not use the groundswell to listen to customers and share its brand message. Unilever did a great job creating Dove’s evolution commercial and breaking the boundaries of its brand message. But, Dell’s case study was a good learning experience that stressed the importance of listening to customers and engaging in conversations with them. Finally, the chapter concludes with five steps to succeed in the groundswell: start small, educate your executives, get the right people to run your strategy, get your agency and technology partners in sync, and plan for the next step and the long term.

Reading Response — Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of the Groundswell was a great read after our Sept. 25 discussion. The chapter stated out by giving a scenario of “Charlie,” a Sears competitor, who wanted to engage with its customers similarly to the way Sears started communicating with its customers. The author advised to take a step back and ask: “What are my customers ready for?” and “What are my objectives?” After what we discussed in class, I would disagree slightly with this statement and stress that companies first have to ask what their business goal(s) is (are) before they think about their customers, because the business goal will influence the types of technologies to use in order to help a company reach out to its customers. The chapter went over the POST method, which was a good refresher of the four-step planning process: people, objectives, strategy and technology. In terms of technology, the author mentioned that companies think of technologies first, similar to what we mentioned in class. This thought is super valuable to those learning about the groundswell because it prepares us to as the simple question: “What is your business goal?” I also liked that the author addressed the groundswell approach-avoidance syndrome because I had that feeling when we first began learning about the groundswell, but with all the strategies and tools it becomes easier to understand. This chapter also highlighted the fact that many companies identify they should be a part of the groundswell, but they are unsure of how to dive into the groundswell. The most important point the author made in this chapter is, “You cannot ignore this trend. You cannot sit this one out. Unless you are retiring in the next six months, it’s too late to quit and let somebody else handle it.” As a class, we have to remember that even if certain concepts become difficult to understand, it is important for us to keep moving forward as best as we can.

Reading Response — Chapter 3

It was very beneficial to read chapter 3 of Groundswell after our Sept. 18 discussion and lecture. The beginning of the chapter solidified the concepts that we discussed in class, especially when it broke down the Social Technographics Profile into its seven categories: creators, conversationalists, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, and inactives. Reading the definitions of these characteristics helped me make connections with the points we made in class, like how mom’s tend to be joiners. When I looked at the graphs in the book, I was shocked to learn that 80 percent of those who participate in social networks are joiners as well. I enjoyed reading the section on Alpha Moms because it reminded me of the Mommy Bloggers that took storm a few years back. This chapter also put into perspective the universal aspect of the groundswell. The authors first make the point that what drives people to the groundswell is “the desire to connect, to create, to stay in touch, and to help each other.” Then the chapter moved on to break down the various social technographics for Asian and European customers. I was pleased to see that in countries like India and South Korea creating content was in the low to mid seventy percent. The book explains that this is because there are many popular social media sites in that part of the world beyond just Facebook, but I would like to believe that people spend their time blogging about political, social and economic issues that are affecting them. I was surprised to learn that there are still ways to reach the elderly and the sick in the groundswell, but in different ways. For both of these categories, the chapter highlights that most of these groups are observers, however the American Cancer Society has created a space online for cancer survivors to share their stories. It was also mentioned that joiners and spectators view this page who are able to draw some inspiration from the web page. Finally, the chapter ended with a very informative roundup of why people join the groundswell, which will be beneficial once I start working with my client. The list included: keeping up friendships, making new friends, succumbing to social pressures from existing friends, paying it forward, the altruistic impulse, the prurient impulse, the creative impulse, the validation impulse, the affinity impulse. What really spoke to me in this list is the succumbing to social pressures from existing friends, because that is how I was pressured into creating a Facebook page. Also, I never realized how powerful the pay it forward option could be. It really is true that when a company sends an email asking for reviews and comments, it is more likely people will participate in the groundswell.

Reading Response — Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 1 & 2 of Groundswell were very informative and shed light on important points and topics that I experience everyday, but have not taken into consideration. First and foremost, I learned that the definition of groundswell is: “A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.” As an example of something I didn’t realize that I knew subconsciously is when the author mentions, “the Internet is not some sandbox that can be walled off anymore — it is fully integrated into all elements of business and society.” I think that is an important point to make because people have a preconceived notion that the Internet is a private place, but it is not. I also learned in this chapter that the groundswell comes from the collision of three forces: people, technology and economics. I didn’t realize that economics can be a part of the groundswell, but it makes sense that online advertising creates revenue for companies, which is a part of the groundswell. I also noted that the author mentioned: “Not only is it here; it’s evolving rapidly — creating an incredible challenge for corporate strategies.”   This taught me to note that companies have to embrace the groundswell and they shouldn’t try to resist it. In that same regard, the book cautions that the groundswell has shifted the balance of power from companies to people because anybody can create sites that connects people. With these sites, the book taught me to recognize that people can change their moods online much quicker than in person, so posts have to be monitored for language and message as to mot upset people and to answer all questions. Finally, in chapter 2, I learned the secret to mastering the groundswell: “concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies.”

A look at company social media policies.


Apple has a very extensive social media policy that guidelines an employees social media usage. What I like most about the policy is that it encourages employees to follow it, but it also encourages all people who use social media to take these points into consideration, stressing the importance of an appropriate online image that potential employers will see. I like that it encourages its employees to keep the secret lives of their employees out of the workplace because that would eliminate drama and arguments between workers. What I like about the privacy portion of the social media policy is that it includes customers as well, which makes it all encompassing. They also state that they want their employees to not write on social media on behalf of the company, which I can understand because it can conflict with company messages, but I also think that it prohibits employees from speaking freely. Lastly, what I don’t like about the policy is that it mentions all the rules, but it doesn’t have a plan if the rules are broken. They are thinking more about what is in their control, rather than what is not in their control.


What I like about Nike’s social media policy is that it states that if an employee wants to use social media to discuss the company, he or she can get it approved through the communications department. This encourages employee interaction with the company online. However, they state boundaries with this, such as not giving out company secrets or stating any information that can threaten the company legally. It also gives tips on how to post about the company online, like be discrete, be clear, be lawful and be respectful. Another good concept of their policy is that it allows its employees to use social media on the job as long as it doesn’t interfere with their work. Overall, the policy was very direct and concise. I didn’t see a problem with it, other than adding items about how to handle situations if rules are broken.

Chicago Public Schools

I think CPS has a great Social Media Toolkit. It gives guidelines for how a school should run its social media including: a school’s principal is the only person who can authorize a school’s social media presence; the principal is ultimately responsible for the school’s social media content and maintenance; and that the principal has to be mindful of social media posts. Then, it gives great tips on how to handle the usage of social media and what to consider before making posts. The page includes videos and tutorials that speak clearly to someone who is just learning about social media.