Chapter 12: The Groundswell Inside Your Company


In chapter 12, The Groundswell Inside Your Company, Li and Bernoff discuss how companies engage their employees through internal groundswell. According to the authors, “throughout corporations around the world, employees are connecting on internal social networks, collaborating on wikis, and contributing to idea exchanges” (Li, Bernoff, 2011, p. 235).  Connecting with employees is as important as connecting customers, as discussed in Chapter 7. Allowing employees to make suggestions, pitch ideas, or give feedback can give them a sense of accomplishment and responsibility in the company

Li and Bernoff also discussed about the Blue Shirt Nation in the book. Blue Shirt Nation was created to listen to what employees had to say. It helped employees feel empowered, connected, and more committed on a day-to-day basis. It also helped BestBuy accomplish groundswell’s five objectives from Chapter 4: listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing.

Finally, here are three strategies for nurturing the internal groundswell:

  1. Promoting a listening culture from top down management – internal social applications demand a high level of trust because employees have more at stake when they participate. Employees need to know that management will listen to their openly contributed opinions, rather than punishing dissenters.
  2. Ease and encourage participation with incentives – having the right culture in place and an engaged management team is a good start, but it’s not enough. Incentives are like the control rods in a nuclear reactor – they dampen the participation and keep the idea generation from heating up.
  3. Find and empower the rebels in your organization – Rather than think about the things that can go wrong, think about the opportunity cost, namely the lost opportunity of creating a groundswell of enthusiastic employees. Managers should stem the inherent corporate impulse to put in place processes, controls, and guidelines for everything.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011)

EA-Logo (1)

EA employee engagement

Electronic Arts had difficulty with employee collaboration and team development. It had an out-of-date collaboration platform that featured searchable blogs, images, and other information, but it wasn’t widely being used. The company wanted all employees to be able to easily network with one another to increase efficiency and decrease the time development time of a new game. Eventually, EA initiated an internal social network to streamline this process and allow employees to communicate globally. This network is called EA People. It allows employees to write and share personal information, such as technical skills, interests, current work projects, past experience, list of colleagues, career interests, etc. Similar to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, EA People was made to be customizable by its employees. It did not only increase collaboration and innovation, but it also helped with employee “on-boarding” training for new employees (Microsoft Office, n.d.).

When it comes to employee engagement, EA likes to move people around, even if that is on different game development teams. This help give teams a rich variety within the organization. They also recognize employees for their amazing contributions they bring to EA. For instance, their Frostbite team created an engine that enables stunning visuals and entirely new gameplay features that lead the company into the next gen gaming. (Toledano, 2013)

As far as incentive goes, EA focus on rewarding employees with a bonus linked to company, business unit and individual performance. For instance, EA’s spot-recognition programs reward employees who deliver over and above performance on a day-to-day basis.

At the end of the day, it is all about building a stronger culture and relationship with the employees by finding new ways on how to manage the company with a strong and active participation with the management and employees.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Microsoft Office. (n.d.). Boosting collaboration with wikis, blogs, My Sites, ratings, and tags. Retrieved from Microsoft Office Support:

Toledano, G. (2013, May 20). A moment to recognize some exemplary employees. Retrieved from EA:

Chapter 7: Energizing the Groundswell


In chapter 7, Energizing the Groundswell, Li and Bernoff discusses a key strategy for businesses – energizing your best customers and enabling them to recruit their peers. Such techniques include ratings, reviews, and communities (Li & Bernoff, 2011).  Word of mouth is a powerful amplifier of brand marketing, achieving results no media campaign can achieve. It succeeds because:

  • It’s believable. People check the customer ratings and reviews of a product. Testimonials from customers are far more credible than any media source or organizations.
  • It’s self-reinforcing. Hearing the review from other people suggests that it has to be true
  • It’s self-spreading. If a product is worth using; its word of mouth generates more word of mouth in a cascade that’s literally exponential.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Benefits of rating and reviews

Bazaarvoice is a company that makes ratings and reviews systems for Web sites. Visitors to Petco’s pet supplies site who browsed specifically by highest-rated products were 49 percent more likely to buy. It’s clear that ratings and reviews generate more purchases. As seen below, we can compute the ROI of ratings and reviews of the site.



Web executives worry about negative reviews. However, the authors suggest that about 80% of reviews tend to be positive. In addition, the negative reviews are essential to the credibility of the site. Without them, the positive reviews just don’t seem believable.

Energizing is both more powerful and riskier than listening and talking. Dealing with actual customers creates challenges for which they’re often not ready. The authors suggest five steps to energizing your customers:

  1. Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell
  2. Check the social technographics profile of your customers
  3. Ask yourself “what is my customers’ problem”
  4. Pick a strategy that fits your customers’ social tehnographics profile and problems
  5. Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul

(Li & Bernoff, 2011).

A company that energizes the Groundswell will end up with a whole bunch of unpaid R&D partners. This means less money spent on advertising and product development. So why not let your customers work for you. You can’t fire customers if they stop behaving the way you want. As long as you’re willing to engage with your enthusiasts, it should be fine. Including customers in the product development process and as extensions of your business is exciting, but the groundswell leads you to a space where you have less control of your own business and brand.

How video game industry energize its customer

Video game communities are great sites to chat and engage with other players. But it is also a where video game companies gather information and ideas with regards to game development. With recently games, I noticed that a lot of video game companies listening to players’ feedbacks on their current game installment. They want to learn what went right, what went wrong, and how they can make things better. It is important to keep the big picture in mind by trying to make changes that would maximize overall happiness and engagement among all players. Sometimes they even encourage players to share their ideas to make their games better and innovative.

Other than social media, blogs, and forum, video game companies gathering feedback through telemetry data.


In this example, BioWare collects data from players’ Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. This gives them an idea of what maps, guns, and game type are being played the most. By using this data, they can update and fix bugs to make gameplay smoother, as well as design DLC maps that will keep players more engaged.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Chapter 10: Tapping the Groundswell with Twitter


Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character “tweets”. In chapter 10, Tapping the Groundswell with Twitter, Li and Bernoff discusses how Twitter is rapidly become a key part of the groundswell—driving, reporting on, and extending activity in everything from blogs to social networks (Li, Bernoff, 2011).  Twitter is a very powerful social media tool. It is at the center of a whole ecosystem of interactions. The following are a few elements of that ecosystem:

  1. Followers – allows anyone to follow and connect quickly with people on Twitter. It enables some of the people on Twitter to develop followings in the thousands or hundreds of thousands.
  2. Hashtags and searches – Hashtags are designed to mark a tweet as referring to a topic and are indicated with a #. Searches on hashtags are more precise than other searches.
  3. Mentions and retweets – provides an easy way to reply or reference your followers or Twitter user. Retweeting is another feature that passes messages from others to your followers and also allows the ideas to spread virally.
  4. Links – allows people to share short updates and articles with a note recommending it.
  5. Lists – the ability to create a list of people you follow as well as a list that can be shared on the Web.
  6. Apps and tools – a huge collection of tools that tap into feeds for twitters and companies. TweetDeck is a free application for collecting your mentions and searches into columns in a full-screen interface, making responding easier.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011).

The Social Technographics Profile of tweeters

As seen in the diagram below, Tweeters and people who read tweets from others are highly socially connected.



Here are some quick advices for using Twitter in order to achieve each of the five groundswell objectives from Chapter 4:

  1. Listening: companies should by listening at what people are saying about them.
  2. Talking: think about what you can offer that might get picked up and repeated by others.
  3. Energizing: find the people who like your products and amplify their voices.
  4. Supporting: if you create an account people will expect you to respond to the questions and problems they tweet you.
  5. Embracing: collaborate with your customers on products or marketing strategies by using Twitter to people to do surveys.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Video game developers on Twitter

Twitter has quickly become a platform for some of the industry’s most talented individuals, including video game developers. As companies interact with their audience, product awareness is raised. Users can feel part of the development process as they are kept up-to-date with the latest news from the studio. Social networks integrate with games in various ways. For instance, @RockstarGames recently posted a new PC trailer for Grand Theft Auto V.


Things to remember:

  • It doesn’t matter what industry your company is in, you can join Twitter and have an impact.
  • Be there to engage with users. Reply to tweets, be kind and helpful.
  • Even though Twitter limits your tweets to 140 characters, it’s still important to keep your tweets as short as possible.
  • Many people follow brands because their customers of the brand or because they want to be “in the know” about the company. Exclusivity is a powerful thing.
  • Be of value, whether it’s saving them money by intermittently offering deals or providing them with content that only your brand can provide.

(Bulygo, 2012)


Bulygo, Z. (2012, March 23). What Can You Learn from These 6 Companies That Thrive On Twitter? Retrieved from KISSmetrics,:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Chapter 8: Helping the Groundswell Support itself

group_meeting_puzzle_final_step-resized-600In chapter 8, Helping the Groundswell support itself, Li and Bernoff discusses about the difference between traditional support versus groundswell support. Traditional support is an effective way of providing help to customers. However, the cost of providing telephone support service can be very expensive. According to Elizabeth Herrell, an average call to a company’s call center costs $6 or $7 while a technical support call costs $10 to $20 (Li & Bernoff, 2011). The groundswell support is a model that provides a cheaper and more engaging alternative. It is typically in a form of online forum, wiki, or Q&A website. The authors suggest two trends that can reduce support cost:

  1. Web self-service revolution – companies send people to their Web sites that contain huge amount of product and problem-solving information.
  2. Outsourcing – moving support calls oversea. As companies trying to reduce their support cost, people help each other to solve problems. “People are far more willing to trust each other than a company… people are willing to spend lots of time helping each other.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 158).

Here are practical advises for building a community for support:

  • Start small, but plan for a larger presence – build around your product lines, understand your customers before expanding your presence to support other products and recognize you supporting people across your product lines.
  • Reach out to your most active customers – ask your customers how they’d prefer to participate and if you have a celebrity customer reach out and secure their participation in advance.
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community – advertise on sites where most of your customers shop.
  • Build in a reputation system – encourage user to participate and behave in the right manner.
  • Let your customers lead you – customers will tell you how the community should be run and let you know what’s right and wrong.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Dragon Age: Inquisition online community

There are countless video game wikis around the internet. The screenshot below is a wiki on BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. It serves as a huge collection of database dedicated to provide gamers with information about its gameplay, system requirements, news, and companies involved in the production. It also facilitate activities such as forums for gaming community to communicate and share their experience with each other, news articles to provide recent updates and upcoming DLCs, and editing to help the wiki’s administrator update new content and information in the wiki.



It is important to properly manage the online community in order to support visitors. Activities within the community will provide new content for gamers. This can create traffic and links that can help boost search engine on the game. Be sure to establish reputation and ensure the integrity of information. Overall, staff members should monitor the activities in the wiki and answer customer inquiries. After all customers’ participation is essential to the growth of the gaming community.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.

Chapter 6: Talking with the Groundswell


In Chapter 6, Talking with  the Groundswell, Li and Bernoff talks about how talking with the groundswell differs from marketing. As mentioned in the textbook, the two main and expensive methods companies use to differentiate themselves in the market are advertising and public relations. Advertising thrives for repetition and appeal to the mass, while public relations aim at exposures in free media (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Li and Bernoff also talks about the traditional marketing funnel. The theory suggests that consumers are driven into awareness through activities like advertising (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Customers go through five steps before becoming loyal consumers of a product. These five steps are:

  1. Awareness – “I see a YouTube ad”
  2. Consideration – “I’m thinking about buying it”
  3. Preference – “I think I like it better than its competitors”
  4. Action – “I’m buying it”
  5. Loyalty – “I’m going to keep buying their products”



The four most effective techniques to talk with the groundswell are:

  1. Posting viral videos to draw people’s attention. This allows viewers to share and spread the video content to expose the brand, product and service. A recent example is Gangnam Style by PSY. As of June 2014, the music video has reached over 2 billion views on YouTube, which makes it the most viewed video in the history of the site (McIntyre, 2014).
  1. Engaging in social networks and user generated sites. This allows businesses to establish an online presence and relationship with its consumers. Creating a personality within social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can extend your brand reach.
  2. Joining blogsphere. This encourages executives and employees to participate in blogs in order to stimulate conversation and add value to content for the customers.
  3. Establishing communities. This engages both the businesses and consumers to facilitate conversation amongst both parties. It also allows the organization to effectively deliver marketing messages to its target market.

Will it Blend? That is the question

Will It Blend? is a viral marketing campaign consisting of a series of infomercials demonstrating the power of Blendtec. It all started in 2006 when George Wright and his team purchased marbles, rake handle, can of Coke, Big Mac meal, etc. (Goodman, 2012). They filmed a series of short videos featuring Tom Dickson blending up these items. Within five days of posting their videos on YouTube and on their website, the videos reached six millions YouTube views.  This gave the company a huge return-on-investment in terms of its worldwide brand recognition and sales. Blendtec later began to purchase advertising with Google and Yahoo! and YouTube in order to bring in the largest number of search engine hits.

Blendtec’s viral videos and their content aligned perfectly with their high-quality brand. It also supported their objective to build brand awareness. Morever, Blendtec sends email to their customer base asking for recommendations for things to blend. Today, they are still accepting suggestions. This open invitation allows the online community to participate in the process. As far as awards, Will it Blend? received a CLIO Award for skillful viral marketing in 2008 (Mendelson, 2013) .


Goodman, K. (2012, December 10). The Story Behind Will It Blend? Retrieved from Blendtec:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.

McIntyre, H. (2014, June 6). At 2 Billion Views, ‘Gangnam Style’ Has Made Psy A Very Rich Man. Retrieved from Forbes:

Mendelson, B. (2013, December 13). Why Does Blendtec Lie About Their Viral Marketing Success? Retrieved from

Chapter 4: Strategies for Tapping the Groundswell summary

exposureChapter 4 focuses on how companies should develop strategies to overcome the issue of the Groundswell approach-avoidance syndrome.  This chapter outlines the symptoms of this condition such as:

  • Strong, obsessive interest over online doings at sites
  • Interest in stories of corporations partnering with social networking sites
  • Constantly checking megablogs to keep social media up-to-day
  • Lack of knowledge and understanding of the company’s “online strategy
  • Anxiety at the thought of actually participating in social technologies

The authors developed a four-step planning process to help companies build their social strategy. The POST method is “the foundation of groundswell thinking – a systematic framework for assembling your plan” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67). POST stands for people, objectives, strategy and technology. The diagram below briefly describes each step:


Figure 1. Forrester POST process


To understand how companies can utilize the POST process, let’s examine how it can be applied to BioWare.

People: This step involves using the Social Technographics Profile (as shown in my Chapter 3 post). It also assesses how your customers will engage, based on what they’re already doing. BioWare’s target audience is anyone who plays video games. Gamers are mainly Joiners and Spectators. These individuals join social media gaming sites and visit gaming communities to seek out game-related information, advice, and interaction with other gamers.

Objectives: This step is where you take a look at what your goals are for pursuing groundswell activities. Company objectives should include the following:

  • Listening. Use the groundswell for research and to better understand your customers.
  • Talking. Use the groundswell to spread messages about your company.
  • Energizing. Find your most enthusiastic customers, and use the groundswell to supercharge the power of their word of mouth.
  • Supporting. Set up groundswell tools to help your customers support each other.
  • Embracing. Integrate your customers into the way your business works, including using their help to design your products (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

BioWare’s main objective should be focusing on listening to its gaming community. Video game developers that listen to their fans when they make decisions on creation of a game often succeed in the long-run. Today, it is fairly common for game developers to offer alpha and beta tests to gather gameplay information and address gamers’ concerns about a game’s early development (Freiler, 2011). This also encourages players to provide game developers feedback and give them a chance to pitch in ideas for the final development of the game. Currently, BioWare uses its official forum and other social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to communicate with its target market.

Strategy: This step helps you examine the following questions: How do you want relationships with your customers to change? Do you want customers to help carry messages to others in your market? Do you want them to become more engaged with your company? “A company’s strategy is the game plan management is using to stake out a market position, conduct its operations, attract and please customers, compete successfully, and achieve organizational objectives” (Thompson, Peteraf, Gamble, & Strickland III, 2013). The main strategy that BioWare should focus on is having dedicated employees on their official forum and social networking sites to allow them to achieve their objective of listening to their target markets concerns. Not only will this allow customers to be more engaged but also allow BioWare to build relationships with their customers. It will make gamers feeling that BioWare cares about what the gaming community wants for the current and sequel games. Having a strong relationship with customers is important especially with high competition in the video game industry.

Technologies: This step requires you to choose appropriate technologies as your application tools, such us blogs, wikis, social networks and so forth .Combinations of technologies will help you to achieve your goals better because your target market may not use same one technology. BioWare should use its official website to provide information to the target audience, social networking sites to promote upcoming games and events, and blogs to allow gamers to interact with each other and provide BioWare with their personal concerns and feedback about their games.


Freiler, L. (2011, January 17). Alpha vs. Beta Testing. Retrieved from Center Code:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press

Thompson, A., Peteraf, M., Gamble, J., & Strickland III, A. J. (2013). Crafting and Executing Strategy: The Quest for Competitive Advantage (19th ed.). McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Chapter 11- How connecting with the groundswell transforms your company


We see more and more businesses constantly transforming the way they market and connect with their customers. Traditionally, companies go to great lengths to attract target market by producing expensive advertising such as television commercials for the Super Bowl. But this isn’t the case anymore. Most companies are using YouTube and other social media sites to promote cost-effective ads to attract consumers, especially our younger generations. This approach allows companies to go through a mental shift, in which they can easily read and provide the needs and wants of its target market.

There are five ways an organization can prepare for a transformation:

  1. Start small: Change takes time. You have little power at the beginning so pick your battles.
  2. Educate your executives: Get them to utilize technology and demonstrate the benefits for the company.
  3. Get the right people to run your strategy: Pick someone who has passion for creating relationships with customers.
  4. Get your agency and technology partners in sync: Invest time and resources to ensure that your IT department and Social Media department communicate effectively.
  5. Plan for the next step and for the long term: Know where the company is going.

(Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.230)

This chapter also focuses on Dell and Unilever as both companies shifted from their traditional marketing and customer serving organization into enterprises that is led by groundswell (Li & Bernoff, 2011). This type of transformation involves customers playing a vital role as there is a closer communication between the firm and its consumers. Three elements are necessary for this type of transformation:

  1. Take this mental shift step by step – understand that mental shift will take time.
  2. Each step naturally leads to the next important step – create a plan and a vision about where you want to take your organization.
  3. Gain executive support – consider how you are going to gain support from upper management.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airways is a pioneer in social media marketing. It keeps 24/7 coverage on their Facebook and Twitter accounts with the help of 25 dedicated employees to operate on its social media frontline. (Baer, 2015). On a few occasions they use Twitter to promote:


JetBlue responds quickly to customer service questions on Twitter. They don’t take any days off (just like their airlines) and are there to help at any time. If your brand is going to go on Twitter for customer service, it’s important to be committed. According to JetBlue,

“Our goal would be to make ourselves available, help whenever possible, and to show that our brand is built by real people who care about our customers.”

JetBlue is promoting their brand by having great customer service. It’s a win-win: customers get service on Twitter, while JetBlue publicly displays their quick and responsive service.


Baer, J. (2015, January 16). How JetBlue delivers amazing social customer service working from home. Retrieved from Convince & Convert:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.