What Does it Mean to “Help the Groundswell?”

So in my Social Media for Public Relations and Journalism class we are reading this book called Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.

Honestly, it’s a pretty interesting book. Groundswell tells the reader of how to utilize this so-called “groundswell” of social media for business and public relations. You might ask, “Just what exactly is this ‘groundswell’?”

"Mic" by billaday

The truth is that this groundswell is you, me, your friend, your friend’s friend and even their friends. The groundswell is social media online. You can’t have social media without having people, and that’s where all of us come in. By reading my very words, you’re currently participating in the groundswell.

While a lot of this book is meant for students and professionals, I believe that everyone can get something out of it. I’ve never thought so deeply of social media until I began reading this.

The chapter that I’ve been focusing on for class is called “Helping the Groundswell Support Itself.” It highlights how different businesses have saved both time and money through utilizing social media like forums, blogs, and wikis to help customers with their problems.

Let me break this down into chunks:

Have you ever had trouble with a company’s product, and had to wait for what seems like forever on the phone just to get a hold of a customer service rep? The book tells of an example of how people like to help each other so much to the point that they will go out of their way to type out advice and assistance for total strangers. The fact that these people are doing this voluntarily saves the business hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on phone calls.

Example: Dell Laptop Forums
Being that there are thousands of others who own the exact computer model as you, somebody else is bound to have already had the same computer problem that you may be dealing with at any given moment. The book’s case study tells of how consumers can save Dell plenty of time and money through giving help and looking for help through the company’s technical assistance forums.

We already know that people like blogging, and people like responding to what others say. But what does this mean for those who want to save dollars and build brand awareness? Brands need to motivate consumers to get creative, and use blogs to build a buzz for the brand. The book tells us that this is best done through letting the consumers do it, as it will produce more organic content and opinions.

Example: ConsumerReports.org
Have you ever contemplated making a purchase, and then decided to research what others have said? Yeah, most people have at some point. This is my own example, but that’s because I’ve actually used this site to decide on my cell phone. I wouldn’t doubt the idea of brands like AT&T and Verizon looking around on here to see what consumers have said about their phones.

Wikis are a very iffy idea, but you cannot ignore them. Wikis are great because various people can contribute to any page in order to help others gain a better understanding of what is being said. A brand created wiki could give off a fake appearance, as mentioned in the part on blogs. Brands should monitor these frequently to see what others think, and where they can improve. Brands should also be willing to edit these only for the sake of getting rid of any untrue or false statements.

Example: Wookiepedia
Star Wars is a huge franchise. There’s nothing else that can compare. Think of all of the products that are being pushed out by all of the different facets of the business. If somebody is saying something false about one of these products, such as the new movie coming out next Friday, people will develop a false perception on what is really being made. It’s the responsibility of the brand to adjust anything that is not correct. This helps consumers educate themselves in the world of Star Wars.

This chapter can all be boiled down into the idea that brands can use (rather, promote the use of) various social media mediums to allow anyone to help others with a brand’s product in some way, shape, or form.

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