When you want to tap into the groundswell you need to have a plan. You can’t pick a technology and try and morph your message into its constraints. You need to figure out what your objectives are! Many people are quick to rush into groundswell and start tweeting, posting or blogging without a real understanding of where they want the groundswell to take them.
The POST method is a simple way to plan how to tap into the groundswell. POST stands for people, objectives, strategy, and technology (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Notice how the technology comes last, this means figure out the first three and then selecting the technology to use will be infinitely easier.
- People – what are your customers, employees, and business partners ready for (Bernoff & Li, 2011)? You can use the Social Technologies Profile that I described here to help you define this.
- Objectives – you need to figure out what you want to accomplish, how you are going to use the groundswell to meet your business goals.
- Strategy – how will you meet your objectives? Will you have customers provide valuable marketing data or engage new customers by carrying your message to them? Do you want employees across divisions to share knowledge and best practices to gain larger corporate efficiencies? The main idea to pin down is how you want your relationships with those using the groundswell to change (Bernoff & Li, 2011).
- Technology – finally once you have figured out the first three you can pick the technology(s) that will work best for you. You may not use all formats or maybe you will. Just make sure you are using the technology that meets your needs.
My main reference book, groundswell, provides five business objectives that you can pursue in the groundswell. Listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing (Bernoff & Li, 2011). These are directly linked to business functions that already exist in your business like research, marketing, sales, support and development (Bernoff & Li, 2011). Linking groundswell objectives to business functions is an easy way to get executive buy-in because you are speaking their language and relating it to things they are already comfortable with.
Now you may make some mistakes. Don’t worry! You can usually recover from them. Make sure you are monitoring your groundswell activities. Are customers and employees using them as you expected? Maybe you need to revisit your people, objectives and strategy to ensure you picked the right technology or maybe you need to revamp your approach. You need to have the right people working on this, ones that believe in the power of the groundswell and who can stay on top of the changing technology and consumer trends. Once you are in, you are in! You can’t quit, you must keep a consistent presence in the groundswell. This will help to ensure you can stay current and provide the rich content your customers, employees and business partners want.
Bernoff, J., & Li, C. (2011). groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.