Whew, there was a lot of ground covered in the reading to be discussed in this one blog entry, so I’ve decided to do a quick format because after all, blogging is all about being concise and interesting. I’d like to give a one to three sentence summary on what I feel are the chapters’ most important points and then a comment or two. Hopefully you readers out there can give me some of your feedback.
Chapter 7 was all about “Energizing the Groundswell” and the value/impact an energized customer can have for you. My summarization is that the authors are saying: People trust the recommendations of their peers and if you can somehow create a buzz through social media by allowing ratings and reviews or fostering a community, you can reap the benefits of having your company spread by word of mouth.
I recently ran across a website that manages to do this without having to build a costly rating/review system. It’s called ruelala.com and works as an invitation only online shopping website. The company fosters community by staying exclusive and relying entirely on word of mouth and it rewards its members for sharing the good news with shopping credits. And on top of this community feel you probably won’t be surprised to hear they have a blog feature. The site really intrigues me because it seems like a unique example of how you can energize your customers in a new way and really seemed to pay attention to its target audience, those urban and trendy shoppers who are status aware and interested in something exclusive.
“Helping the Groundswell support itself” was all about using social media, namely wikis, so that your customers can answer each other’s questions and solve problems without needing the company to step in. As a user of such groups, sanctioned and non-sanctioned, I can say my life has become a lot easier. However, it seems that not all groundswell support is treated equal and this really frustrates me. What I mean by that is when a company decides to go this route; I feel they really need to still offer the option to use traditional methods to get support. Apple Support in particular has a very nice website designed for its users to help each other but sometimes sifting through the pages and pages of question/answers gets tiring. Hopefully, more companies begin to recognize this and realize that one of the important roles they play when creating a wiki is organizing content so that it stays manageable.
Embracing the Groundswell is about using your customers to improve product development so that it is more efficient and addresses the areas/issues they are looking for. Finally, there is a cost effective way for a company to listen to their customers and effect change. The book touches on Dell and how it used the groundswell to create the Linux PC and reading about made me realize how Microsoft has taken a new medium, used it to its advantage, and then possibly spun it into their “I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea” ad campaign. Essentially, they are saying, “we listened to you, our customers, and created this product the way you wanted it...enjoy.” This to me is sheer brilliance.
Finally, the end of reading assignment touched on, “How Connecting with the Groundswell Changes your Company.” After reading this I wonder if this chapter should have been called “How being the representative of your company that is connecting with the groundswell changes you” and was slightly terrified by taking on that role. The last two pages saved me though and really put it into perspective that as exciting as it would be to lead a company into this new area that seems to make so much sense after reading the book-there is still a lot of legwork and struggle. It’s not going to be as simple as “hey guys, I grew up with social media, it works, trust me!” I just hope I’m up to the challenge.