Chapter 12 – Inside Your Company


Up until this twelfth chapter in Groundswell we have only talked about how a company can connect with their customers using the groundswell, but now we have to take into consideration the employees, because they matter too! The bigger your company the harder it is to achieve this because the information of ideas and decisions typically trickles down the hierarchy well, but lower level employees are more hesitant to voice their opinion and speak up when they have input for the organization for they fear they won’t be heard.

Inside the groundswell @MEC

MEC has done something amazing with how they communicate with their employees. What they did is that created an intranet, named Mondo, right away employees across the country enthusiastically joined in, and the site soon sported a 97 per cent user rate. Mondo is a place where employees can use forums and discussion groups, not only for each store but also for company-wide issues and areas of interest such as sustainability, a core MEC value. What Mondo does is it allows all of the employees to communicate what they really love collectively, and that is of course, the outdoors! This video below explains Mondo in more detail, please watch! (BC Business, 2015)

In our text Groundswell there is the case of Best Buy. It is eerie how similar that case is to what MEC had done with their Mondo intranet mentioned above. MEC saw that they needs a better way to communicate internally in their company now that they are such a large organization. They also wanted to facilitate communication and relationship building between their employees. It can be assumed that MEC had the same goals in mind as Best Buy when they started up Mondo below is how they achieved the listed goals from my point of view. (Thought Farmer, 2015)

Listening: Establishing a platform such as a discussion forum can act as a place for employees to post their problems. MEC executives can log onto discussion boards to listen to problems employees are talking about and solve them and applied throughout all stores.

Talking: If there are any policy changes or any suggestions needed Mondo is where it can be done

Energizing: Those employees that are especially passionate about their jobs and the outdoors now have a place where their voice can be projected and their positive thinking can be spread throughout the organization. Also employees can organise get together for group activities like hiking and biking trips.

Supporting: Employees can work together and help each other out. This time they can interact with the organization as a whole rather than those just at their workplace.

Embracing: Employees can contribute their ideas such as improving work processes. Allowing them to vote on the best ideas gives them empowerment and a sense that their opinions really matter.


BC Business. (2015, April 15). MEC’s Elegant Email Solution. Retrieved from

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Thought Farmer. (2015, April 15). building a culture of collaboration at MEC. Retrieved from


Energizing!!! (Chapter7)

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What is energizing?

Energizing is the most viral form of word of mouth advertising. It is basically getting your customer extra enthused about your products so they go on a “word-of-mouth rampage” telling everyone they know about how great your company is. Now that sounds great, but it is hard to achieve. Hopefully this blog post will give some insight into how you can make this a reality for your company.

The main reasons world of mouth advertising is effective are because:

1- It’s believable: people trust real people that they know and trust

2- It’s self-reinforcing: the more people you hear it from the more believable it becomes

3- It’s self-spreading: word of mouth advertising will happen automatically if you have a amazing product. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews: Allow your customers to review your products. MEC is doing this in a couple of ways, first is how I mentioned before in another blog post about how they have a great online review system that is very easy to use. The second is they give their products to some of their MEC sponsored athletes and let them test it out and review the products. They then make a YouTube video on the experience and functionality the MEC sponsored member had with the product. The below video is video of someone giving their review on a jacket made and sold my MEC. This is just an awesome way to market you new products because like said before it is this word of advertising that is the most trusted by consumers. Although, it is perceived as “authentic” we can assume that the nice lady testing the products in the video is being paid my MEC and she is expected to only highlight its positive attributes and not speak of any possible downfalls in the product. But, a lot of consumers waiting this video will not see though this and trust her as she is a product expert and buy the jacket. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Participate in and energize online communities of your brand: Join the discussions in enthusiast forums (which is what MEC is doing a little bit too much of on Twitter). MEC should only retweet a certain amount of their fans tweets, because there is almost no excitement is MEC simply retweeting everything. Although it is great that MEC is taking the initiative to interact with these people and show them that they’re listening. MEC involves them in their decisions and is not afraid afraid to ask them for feedback. MEC knows that their customers know their brand better than MEC does. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Energizing Advice

Since energizing is now dealing with people, things get trickier and picking the right target to energise is key you your company doesn’t waste time and money. It is impossible to energize everyone but focusing at the targeted base is a great start. When a company target those who are already charged up about them, they will let those in their network know via word of mouth. It is important to select ambassadors of your brand in these communities so that they feel acknowledged and continue to represent your brand positively (just as MEC did in the video above). It provides a way to start embracing those in your communities and eventually even involving them in your business processes such as product development and design. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing

Chapter 10 – Twitter


Twitter has become an amazing tool for both individual and companies to connect and be empowered. Twitter has 288 million monthly active users. Wow! That is a lot of people that care online and available to see your companies Tweets… if you can tap the groundswell with Twitter effectively… (Twitter, 2015)

The best part Twitter is its simplicity, 140 characters and a very simple and easy to use application that takes no time at all to master.

Another beautiful part of using Twitter as a form of marketing for a company it that it is FREE to do! Yes, the company is going to be paying someone to post and maintain the account, but other than that it is the cheapest form of mass marketing you can get at that price.

Click here for an article on 10 ways your business should use twitter if I haven’t been convincing enough!


I follow MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) on Twitter and they seem to have a very involved and frequent presence. In my opinion they are going a bit over kill on their Twitter. I counted and today they have tweeted 15 times. This seems like a bit much for an organization. Their followers my get annoyed by how much they tweet and unfollow them. This could be detrimental to the company and right now I believe they are on a slippery slope. To the right is a screen capture from my phone of their excessive tweeting.

Now the question is, “what do you want to use Twitter for?” There are multiple way to use it and it depends on what you strategy is, and what you want to get out of it. Blow are multiple different way a company can use Twitter

Listening: listening to what others have to say about your company. Monitor is important because people concerns that the broadcast on Twitter can ruin your company’s image and reputation.

Talking: your followers want interaction from your organization. They want to know that you are listening but also taking action for any problems that they may be having.

Energizing: This is all about finding people that like your products and are excited about them. Retweet their tweets to show that you are listening and build a relationship with your best customers.

Supporting: helping or directing frustrated followers that are having problems with your service or products.

Embracing: collaborate with your followers, take their feedback and use it to improve your product or service.

If your company chooses the right approach to using Twitter it can make a world of a difference for achieve what it is you are trying to achieve with your online presence. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing

Twitter. (2015, April 3). Retrieved from

Chapter 8 – Support


Chapter 8 starts out with ‘tugging on our heat strings’ with a sad story that turns into a joyous one of how new parents achieved effective communication and support from their families in hard times with “CarePages”, a brilliant invite only blog-type application intended for patients to stay connected to their friends an family when they are receiving medical attention. I can just imagine the worries that the friends and family would be going through when their loved one is in the hospital. But lucky this application lets them communicate and give updates. I would say that is safe to day that the emotional support that CarePages gives patients is a big contributing factor in their healing. This was a nice introductory story about how SUPPORT is needed in more that in way in the groundswell…(Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Helping the groundswell can be costly if done wrong, for example a call center for support for a company products can cost millions. But if done right your company can support its own groundswell with a fraction of that cost. Mountain Equipment Co-op has done an excellent job of this by creating their “Ask and Answer” functionally of their website. For every product on their website you can ask a question and the either someone from MEC will answer it, or if you as a customer know a lot about the product and you can answer the question you can leave an answer. This is great because it cuts down on the cost of employing a whole bunch of people at MEC to just answer question on the phone and online all day and you are getting more input from more people. Below is a Screen shot of the Ask and Answer portion of the web store. For this one water filter there have been 24 question asked so far, all with good quality answers both from the MEC community and MEC staff. It’s hard to calculate how much money this functionally on their web is saving them year, but I think that it’s safe to say, “a lot” (said in a British accent)


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing


Go Ahead, Make Me Famous (Chapter 6 – Talking)


This chapter starts out with a mention of the “Will it Blend? Videos” after reading this I then proceeded to tumble down the rabbit hole of Will it Blend? Videos on YouTube. On a related / unrelated note…. Here is my favorite one where he blends 12 glow sticks.

There are four major way to talk with the groundswell, they are described below:

1- Post a viral video:

Just as we have seen in the Will it Blend series, they put up a few videos and things took off like crazy (an increase of sales of 700%) (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

2- Engage in social networks and user-generated content:

Join sites like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube and see what comments are being posted about your brand. This provides a platform to engage in conversations. Here, customers want to see that you’re listening and prove to them that they are valued. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

3- Join the “Blogosphere”:

Blogosphere, fun word to say, even more fun to join in on! Blogs attract customers to listen to your company’s talking because of the personal aspect. There is more of a connection to the company because there is a feeling the reader gets like when they read a novel, they get connected to the author on a personal level. With blogs, organizations can listen and reply to other blog postings. It is a great way to gain the trust and loyalty of your costumers. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

4- Create a community:

Communities are a great way to gather your customers into one place. This is especially effective when you have customers that are passionate about your brand that promote for you. It’s a place where customers can interact with each other and give each other advice and ideas. A great way a community can be used is for problem solving, where customers can address problems that they may be having with your product. An example I can think of is a Ford truck enthusiast community. In the online community the users would post there questions and problems to the community and then other members would respond that are subject matter experts. In turn Ford can use these peoples knowledge as a very cheap form of reashearch and development! (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

“Gangnam Style” a song by the Korean pop artist Psy is currently the most viewed video on YouTube with 2.2 Billion views. WOW! So the question is: what made this video so viral? I think that it is the ridiculous nature of the video and the comedy involved in his dancing, the catchy beat is hard to get out of your head as well. Also, I think that the maker of the video was onto something when they were producing it. They likely looked at the social technograph of the pop music market and saw that they were engaging in the groundswell mostly as spectators and joiners. You can view my blog post on social technograph here if you are not familiar with the concept. Watching and sharing YouTube videos is a characteristic of these “steps” on the social technographics ladder. I believe that they were acting very strategically when they make such a ridiculous video because they know that the right people would see it and it would blow up with popularity. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Something else that stood out to me in this chapter was the “Tips for Successful Blogging”. There are a total of 10 suggestions and I found that each one of them was as valuable as the next for when it came time for a company executive to start a blog. These tips are a necessity for any company to go through before they dive head first into a blog. They force a company to ask themselves “are we ready to have a blog, is it right for us”. It makes them see if they are trying to do it for the right reasons. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Click here for another great article on why business blogs fail. It gives some of the same rational as our text Groundswell does, as well as some of its own unique observations.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing

My post on P.O.S.T.

The groundswell approach avoidance syndrome is phenomenon that is happening amongst business executives that simply do not know how to deal with the groundswell. They know they want to get on board with the groundswell but they don’t know why. Simply “jumping on the band waggon” with not taking a step back and assessing your environment can be a costly and embarrassing mistake that can cost a company big time. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

There is a great way to get started in the groundswell and it’s an acronym called POST, a series of steps that are meant to help you plan for success in groundswell.

I will relate the POST steps to what Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) did to jump on the groundswell wave.

Here is what POST stands for and how MEC applied it:

People: If MEC is wanting their company to take part in the groundswell and harness the powers of it in the right way they need to look at the people which is their customers. Looking at the social technograph of their prospected users is key in this step. MEC must see how the target market of the firm would be willing to participate in the groundswell. Are they more likely to write blogs about their product, or are they more likely to join a social network regarding the topic at hand? That is exactly what this stage will determine for MEC at this stage. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Objectives: This is the part where MEC would figures out what they want to achieve. Some common objectives of companies are: Listening, Taking, Energizing, Supporting, and Embracing. They must assess where they want their company to fit in, it is best to identify the most predominant one and set is as your objective to set clear goals, because saying “we want to achieve all of these objectives” is not specific enough and will likely lead you an expensive failure. It is clear that MEC set listening as their objective as they wanted to get the customer taking about their products on their website with product reviews. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Strategy: At this stage now that MEC has figured out what they want to achieve, they now need to figure out how to achieve it. This stage of strategy formulation includes analyzing what medium of social media they are going to use to get their users to act in a certain way. Or possibly how they plan on listening to them. At this stage MEC would also be concerned with how they will measure the success of the implementation of their strategy so that they have concrete goal to achieve. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals here is recommended. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Technology: Now that the previous 3 stages have been completed in order MEC can now determine what applications they should build or use. To put it simply; what medium are they going to use to listen with their customers? If they find that Twitter for example is the best way to go about this, great, nice and easy. But, if they have decided that they need a much more involved medium like a customer reviews on their products on their web store than the development of the technology become more involves, costly and complicated. That is eacly what MEC had to do and they are now part of the groundswell and both them and their customer are benefiting from this new customer reviews on their products. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

After MEC went through the POST process there is no going back. There has now been a fundamental shift in the way that the company interacts and listens with their customers. There is no real way to avoid the groundswell so if a company wants to stay current and survive they can either hop on the groundswell wave now and cruise along with the ‘cool kids’ or stay treading water which will inevitably leading to them drowning… (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing

Connecting With the Groundswell to Transform Your Company

Chapter 11 in Groundswell showed me that company no longer needs to spend millions of dollars on an advertisement campaign to make a meaningful impression in its customers anymore. A great example of this was the Dove commercial called “Evolution” that was a huge online hit. Dove showed with this video that they could let go of control and trust that the creativity that they have poured into their commercial would engage in the groundswell. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Here is the Dove Evolution” video of you have not seen it:

I appreciated how the chapter provided not only good examples of how connecting with the groundswell could transform your companies, but it also provided a bad one too. The GM example showed me how you cannot force people to blog it they do not believe in the groundswell and they simply don’t want to blog. That was the main fault of GM in the given scenario, they were just too pushy with it. They forced the groundswell ideology on the wrong people that were not open and receptive to the idea. Going after these non-believing ‘old timers” was the first step in the downfall of attempting to transform GM with the groundswell. Once they changed who was responsible for blogging for the company they project. This can be a hard concept for everyone in an organization to completely grasp and become accepting of. Some companies are not listening to their customers or just completely clueless of their online presence. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Below is a great video that preached a lot of the same messages about listening as chapter 5 in Groundswell like my last blog post. It shows how Dell pulled out of the “Dell Hell” and became the #1 social media company.

If you and your company want to jump on the groundswell and reap the benefits there are three important steps in transforming your company that should be considered before getting ahead of yourselfers.

  1. A mental shift should be taken step by step: This element is an important stepping-stone. Everyone in your organization will need time to take in new concepts, some will be reluctant, some will accept and some will even leave.
  2. Each step leads into the next: Visions lead into plans, plans lead into actions, and actions lead into results.
  3. Have executive support: Some convincing may need to be done to make upper management believe in the groundswell before the whole organization changes.

After considering these steps, the next phase is to prepare for the transformation to ensure that you have a higher chance of success.  (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Chapter 5: The Art of Listening


How do you understand what your customers want or need? That right, you listen. That is the basis of chapter 5 in Groundswell. There are a few way to do it well, and a few ways to do it… not so well. At times it can be difficult to know what your customers think about your company and/or products, and why they think the way they do. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

The following are two strategies a company can follow to listen to your customers:

1) Set up a private community: This is where users can come together and engage in discussions with others that have problems or interests. Here you can listen in on these discussions that your customers are having and respond accordingly.

2) Begin brand monitoring: Hire a company that will research and listen to what others are saying about your brand. After, you can make decisions off the results given. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Not listening to the groundswell is a big mistake. Some companies disregard what the core of their business is, and that is of course, the customers. If a company is not listening to their customers about the groundswell here are some steps to get started:

-Check social technographics profile of your customers

-Start small, think big

-Make sure your listening vendor has dedicated an experienced team to your effort

-Chose a senior person to interpret the information and integrate in with other sources (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

What I think:

Reading about listening to the groundswell made me think of “Rate My Professors”. It is a student driven website where students can rate their professors on many dimensions so that future students know how professors teach to figure out who’s a great professor and who’s one you might want to avoid. (, 2015)

Rate My Professor is a social great tool that was designed for fellow student to view and see what instructors they pick, but instructor are using it as a tool to listen at the same time. That is what chapter 5 in Groundswell is all about after all. Since you don’t need to be a student to look at a professors rating, professors themselves are looking at their own profiles and profiles of their colleagues to assess their current performance. This is a great way for them to listen to their “customers” and get honest (sometimes too honest) feedback on the satisfaction of their students. Relating this example back to chapter 3, the students that are writing the reviews are the “Critics” on the social technographics ladder. And the instructors / professors reading the reviews on themselves would be the “Spectator” on the ladder. The instructors are using the rating website as a dashboard to how they are performing and as constructive feedback to improve their performance. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

Rate my Professor is an excellent example of how different users can listen to the groundswell in different ways that can benefited each user group equally. Our Instructor for this class, Raymond, scored himself a respectable score of 4.2 out of 5 on his Rate My Professor profile. Nice job Raymond! You can find his page on the website here. (, 2015)


Forrester. (2015, Feb 7). What’s The Social Technographics Profile Of Your Customers? Retrieved from Empowered:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing. (2015, Feb 14). Raymond Bilodeau. Retrieved from Rate My Professor:

The Social Technographics Profile

Chapter 3 of Groundswell gave me a great insight into how it is important to consider HOW people are participating in the groundswell movement.

In the chapter I was introduced to the “Social Technographics Ladder” and it was an excellent way of showing me how to define the different types of groupings of consumers involved in the various steps of the groundswell. Altogether the rungs of the ladder make up the Social Technographic Profile. The Social Technographic Profile is a tool that allows people in business to analyze and create strategies based on the tendencies of any group of people, anywhere on social media (Li & Bernoff, 2011). I found out where I fit in with various types of social media I use and I discovered that I fit in with the majority population in the statistics and I am usually joiner or a spectator. BUT, now that I am publishing a blog and keeping it up to date with posts relating to our social media marketing class I am now also fitting into the “Creator” step on the social Technographics ladder! Cool! I never thought that I would be creating content on the internet for all to see, it was a scary thought to me… but now that I have been given this opportunity though our class I can see the benefits of being a creator. (Li & Bernoff, 2011)

The target market that I spoke about in the first post was MECs target market. I said that they would be outdoor enthusiast residing in urban areas in major Canadian cities between the ages of 18 to 60 that care about the environment, and have an average income of $50,000 a year. I have constructed a Technograph (Below) on the target market of MEC. This data that showed from my selections was fairly predictable as I was not able to narrow down the age range because the previously identified target market is so broad (18 to 60). I would have liked to see more freedom with the Technographics data tool. For example the ability to select what kind of industry you are looking to find data for. For mine it would be classified as “physical recreation”. If this were a capability of the application by Forrester I would have more accurate and “real data” about how a more specific grouping of users are going about their social media participation. But, as this data stands it is not a huge help to me to alter how I would approach to analyzing and creating strategies based on the tendencies of the grouping of people on social media centered on outdoor physical recreation. But, if I had the right and up to date data from my specific target market I could better understand what drives individuals to social networking and online tools, and I would be able to look at these forces and leverage them to the advantage of the firm, while at the same time benefiting the users (Li & Bernoff, 2011)


(Forrester, 2015)
All-in-all I was satisfied with chapter 3 in Groundswell and I learned a great deal about how to hone in on your target market and the value in discovering who using social media is and in what way. Then, you can adapt your strategy and improve both your business, and the experience for your customers.

Forrester. (2015, Feb 7). What’s The Social Technographics Profile Of Your Customers? Retrieved from Empowered:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

The Original Social Media …


Reading the article “Users of the Word, Unite!” I learned that the root of all all social media lies in the original and simplistic Blog. I realised that I have not thought about how social media has progressed though the stages of its evolution over the years since its inception. I realised that I just simply use Facebook and Twitter because it is there and everyone does, but I never thought about how it got to the point that it is at today. The article had me retrace the steps backwards of how social media untimely got its hold on us and it traced it back to, as I mentioned before, the good old fashion blog. This realization made me feel a bit nostalgic, even though this is the first true blog entry I have ever posted…

I stay current with a few vlogers on YouTube on topic that interest me and some include running and mountain biking vlogs, and a few science ones too. One science one I like is Destin on “Smarter Every Day” .That I because he is a very enthusiastic guy, knows a lot about science and shows a lot of stuff in slow motion. I love his vlogs because he has very easy way of explaining things and it is very educational. I love the Discovery Channel, and what Destin does on Smarter Every Day is very similar with his own kooky twist on things. I also like the feeling I get when I watch the YouTube channels of videos because it is called “Smarter Every Day” I get a sense of satisfaction knowing that I am truly getting smarter and understanding this world more because I just watch a video on how butterfly wings work, for example.

This is one example on now I appreciate social media, but I know appreciate it more because I understand where it came from and how it became widely loved.

I here is Destin on Smarter Every Day. Enjoy !