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 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.