As a business, in order to effectively tap into the groundswell and benefit from its insights, you must clarify your objectives first. Unfortunately, many businesses go about their groundswell strategy backwards and start with technology first instead of objectives. As stated in Chapter 4 of Groundswell, “Technology is shifting so quickly—chasing it is like trying to jump on a speeding merry-go-round” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67). However, by asking questions and determining your objectives first, you can then begin to build your groundswell strategy. To assist with the process, authors Li and Bernoff have created a four-step planning process called the POST method. POST stands for “people, objectives, strategy, and technology” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67). POST is the basis for groundswell thinking and can help in the development of your plan.
The POST Method
People: In the first phase of the POST Method, People, businesses need to ask themselves – “What are my customers ready for?” The importance of this phase is to assess how your customers engage based on what they are already doing. The Social Technographics Profile, which I discussed in a previous blog post, is designed to answer this question. The company I used as an example for my Social Technographics Profile was Aritzia. The profile determined that Aritzia’s target audience participates in or maintains profiles on social networking sites. They like to participate in frequent back-and-forth dialogues at least weekly. And as Spectators, they like to consume what others create online. Additionally, 41% of young women, Aritzia’s target audience, are also Creators, which is higher than the average American adult.
Objectives: In the Objectives phase, businesses should be concerned with answering – “What are our goals?” Clarifying your main objective will provide a reason to enter the groundswell. In Aritzia’s case, I would say their main objective should be to energize their most enthusiastic customers in order to harness the power of word of mouth advertising.
Strategy: Since 41% of Aritzia’s target audience are Creators, Aritzia’s Strategy should be to encourage these enthusiastic customers to carry messages about its brand to like-minded individuals online. Creators “are online consumers who at least publish a blog or article online, maintain a Web page, or upload videos or audio to sites like YouTube” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 43). A strategy such as this would be focused on User Generated Content (UGC). UGC is when online users create unpaid content about a brand. This type of content would fall inline with word of mouth advertising and would engage Aritzia’s high number of Conversationalists and Spectators.
Technology: With 84% of Aritzia’s target audience being Joiners, it is guaranteed that a large portion of Aritzia’s customers participate in or maintain profiles on several social networking sites. However, if there was just one social Technology Aritzia should engage in to implement this strategy, I would suggest Instagram. “Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr” (“Instagram”, n.d.). Since fashion is such a visual medium, a social networking site like Instagram would be a perfect platform for Aritzia’s Creators to share their favourite outfits and pieces. This would give the Conversationalists content to comment on and the Spectators content to consume. Aritzia could also use this content for promotional purposes (with the Creators’ permission of course) on its own social networking pages.
In conclusion, the groundswell trend is a trend that cannot be ignored. Your customers are there and if you haven’t done so already, it is time to join. Even though there is no right way to engage with the groundswell, the POST Method can assist in building a groundswell strategy that encompasses the right tactics and technologies for your customers.
Instagram. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 30, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.