MARK4474: Listening To Your Community


Rick Steve’s Travel Forum (Courtesy: Rick Steve’s)

Quick look at why companies must look outward when working on their brand

Reminder- groundswell: the shift from traditional ways of getting the things we need, to using technology and the various platforms it offers (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

When you think of your brand it shouldn’t be how you perceive it to be, but how others view it. I think that is something that is still overlooked today. Companies aren’t listening to consumers enough, and they are getting hurt as a result. The ones that listen are the ones that stand out from the rest. It’s simply an idea of looking outward, rather than inward.

Traditionally speaking, companies have tried “listening” via market research. There’s nothing wrong with market research, except it is more of a traditional way of listening. We should be looking at different ways to seek feedback, beyond what the surveys are telling us. This can be done in multiple areas. Blogs, micro blogs (Twitter), discussion forums, Facebook, and Tripadvisor (amongst others), are all valuable sources to seek out information about your products/service.

Relating this back to travel, I would have to say Tripadvisor is one of the most widely used tools by any traveller. I used to find myself using it all time. Tripadvisor lets you post a review on a service, monument, museum, or anything you may encounter on your trip. Because of the large online community, it would be a great tool for your business to use, especially if you are located in a touristy area. Keep in mind, I am saying it is a valuable tool, but it only includes the opinions of those who are inclined to post reviews or book through them, so you cannot rely on just one source.

Even though we have the ability to source from these various platforms, it would be a mistake to assume that this would be a fair representation. Like I said, these online communities are made up of joiners, critics, conversationalist, and creators (from technological profile). We need to be aware of the spectators and the collectors, who may be viewing the content, but they aren’t actively voicing their opinion (Li & Bernoff, 2008).


(Source: Forrester Research, Inc.)

A second challenge to these platforms is the sheer volume of people actively participating. I don’t care how big your company is, it would take a lot of your time to sort through all of the information. So this can be a costly endeavour as well. Despite the challenge, there are a few ways you can simplify the process:

1. Set up your own content: I’ve already included a picture above (more related to travel brands), but sites like Rick Steve’s always have their own discussion forums. Yes, it’s great to get opinions from other travellers and some experts, but their intention is greater than that. Through the forums, they are getting more insight on what travellers are looking for. This way they can add to the content of their guidebook, and make changes to their tours to gain more interest.

2. Pay a third party: While it can be expensive the same can be said for doing the research through the company. These companies will also churn through all available information and change it over to a report for you. However, it’s critical to implement changes where deficiencies are shown. It would be a waste to pay someone millions of dollars for information in order to ignore it all in the end (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

Another thing that stood out to me: It’s important to listen to the groundswell, as it helps you identify the sources of influence on your product/brand. By getting a better idea of what drives sales and recognition to your brand, you will be able to have a more accurate idea of where you need to spend money going forward (especially in marketing). Is the source bloggers, YouTube, or discussion forums? It’s critical for your company to find out (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

There is value in this for everyone. Even if you are a small restaurant in Romania, that caters mostly to tourists. By seeing actual feedback (rather than trends), you will be able to see your deficiencies and use the consumers recommendations to make it better.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.


Categories: MARK4474- Social Media

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