MARK4474- Connecting with the groundswell


Summary of chapter 11

In the most recent chapter, we are given more insight on how companies have to engage with their consumers today. It talks about a shift from traditional marketing and customer support, to a company which keeps their customers at the center of their organization. It looks at having “customer managers”, rather than “product managers” (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

This shift from traditional marketing is crucial, as it allows companies to grow with their customers, rather than trying to tell their customers what they need/want. By utilizing the groundswell, it is also a shift in the way companies are spending money. The case surrounding Unilever gives us more insight into how this shift from traditional marketing makes sense (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

In short, Unilever made the shift that I previously mentioned. This was to the point where only 40% of their advertising dollars were spent on traditional marketing. This allowed them to focus on more advertising through the groundswell, including engaging more through their presence on YouTube. That transition has made them far more successful today (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

This new shift can be embraced by many, and it should. However, the Unilever case brings up three factors that need to be met in order to have a proper transition:

1. Take it one step at a time: This shift into tapping into the groundswell can’t happen overnight. Things won’t always go your way. This means that you will have to slowly build your repertoire as you become more engaged.

2. Have a vision of where you want to take it: If you don’t know where your company is going, how will you know to build it through the groundswell? This needs to be clearly defined.

3. Have everyone on board: If you can’t convince your executives on making the shift, how will you convince consumers to follow you? Make sure you have support from top to bottom. This included having people at different levels engaged in the groundswell. I can’t remember which hotel chain it was, but they have their own blog. Alongside that blog their CEO consistently adds his own blogs which highlights the stays he has had at their various locations. This shows how the CEO is buying into their shift.

Travel Industry:


Relating this back to travel related companies is quite simple, and it is something I have already highlighted in previous blogs about engaging your customers. This is crucial in travel. If Rick Steve’s had only ever focused on doing his TV show and selling his guidebooks, he would eventually be replaced by someone who actually engages and listens to their customers.

Along side the show and guidebooks, Rick Steve’s has forums where anyone can come and ask any travel related questions. Not only does this open up a community of people to one another, but employees of Rick are in charge of interacting on this platform as well. By seeing what travellers are looking for, Rick Steve’s can also add tours and stops that consumers had previously been talking about through their forums. This is a shift from an advertising based platform to one where more time is spend ACTUALLY engaging with the consumer. Through their forums (and other platforms), they are able to find out what we are really looking for.


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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