MARK4474: Tapping the groundswell

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An overview of chapter 4 and how it relates to travel companies, and why it isn’t as spooky as it seems.

A problem persists in businesses of all sizes, where they are unaware of how to tap into the groundswell effectively. This problem was magnified more in the past when social media platforms started to pop up, but I can still see businesses struggling to embrace the groundswell today. They are comparing themselves to their competitors, rather than actually aligning their goals with their customers/audience. This post will take a look at stepping back and outlining the steps needed in order to effectively tap into the groundswell.

The tool highlighted in chapter 4 is called the “POST” method. This includes people, objectives, strategy, and technology. All four parts need to be analyzed before you proceed with your plans:

People: How will your customers/target market engage in your business? I previously talked about the social technographics profile, which is the perfect tool to use to understand your market. Understanding your market and how they engage is much more effective than winging it and hoping for your strategy to work out (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

Objectives: What are your company’s core objectives? Are you using social platforms to market your products, or are you using them to simply engage in the community. Understanding what you want to get out of the groundswell before you enter it is critical (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

Strategy: Are you looking for customers to spread information about your business, or to have an influence on your design/products? It’s also important to have everyone in the company on board. If your employees won’t buy in, using the groundswell may not be the best strategy for you (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

Technology: What kind of platform will you be using? This can include anything from current media sites, to blogs, to forums, or any other platform to spread your message. This should be the last thing addressed, and this can’t be done properly without full understanding of the first three parts (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

Different goals to seek when tapping into the groundswell:

1. Listening. This is great for companies that are selling products. They could make great use of forums and other social media sites in order to get feedback from customers. This would be more efficient than having customers email you whenever they have a complaint or want something to change.

2. Talking. Using the groundswell is a great extension past using traditional marketing methods. Taking it one step further by making a viral video or informative video and posting it to your site as well as YouTube is one example. Opening up forums where you can discuss your product/service/campaign directly with customers is another good idea.

3. Energize. A great example of this is companies who run campaign/contests by getting their customers to make a viral video. These campaigns get shared across all social media platforms. This way others are able to see actual customers using the products, rather than watching a standard commercial.

4. Supporting. This is something that is widely used in the travel industry, where companies like Frommer’s have forums where anyone can post a question on their itinerary. After which, the large online community responds with their suggestions.

5. Embracing. Taking the groundswell one step further and integrating your customers into the business. This means including their suggestions and giving them a space to give suggestions to enhance your product/service.

Basically, you need to have a firm grasp over what your company does, and where you would like to take it. Are you looking to spread a message, or to include customers in your decision-making process. It’s also important to understand who will be running these social platforms, and it is important to have everyone on board. If employees don’t understand why they are engaging with the customers, then your message will me lost. After those questions are looked at your company can look into what kind of platform to use. (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

Travel Industry:

POST Method for Outbound (app on Android and iPhone):

People:

Going through the application myself, I realized the two biggest age groups are 18-24 and 25-34, with a few others in older age groups. Applying that to the Social Technographics Tool, I get a better idea of how these groups interact. In both age groups the tool shows us that a large chunk of these groups are joiners and spectators, meaning it’s important for Outbound to have fresh content for these people to view.

Taking it a step further, between the two groups about 40% of these people are creators, who would be integral to providing new content to Outbound. Along with that, 48% of these groups would be critics. This makes it important for Outbound to allow interactions beyond the standard functions of the app.

Objectives:

The objective of Outbound is to connect travellers who are abroad. You can see others who are in your area, and Outbound is used to seek advice, find local places, and meet fellow travelers.

Outbound is a stand-alone app. They place videos of Vimeo, YouTube, and Vine (from what I have seen). They also promote well on Twitter, Facebook, and they primarily do promotions on Instagram. Their goal is to continue to grow their platform in order to have a large community of travellers looking for advice from other like-minded travellers.

Strategy:

Outbound utilizes bloggers who write on travel (especially abroad). This is the primary source of promotion outside of what they do in-house. They make sure to find popular bloggers on various blogging platforms, and then they make them featured bloggers on the Outbound site. These bloggers are also expected to promote the app as well.

Technology:

As noted in objectives, Outbound utilizes a lot of social media platforms. Emphasis would be on Instagram and Twitter. They also approach many bloggers, so various blogging platforms are being used to spread their message. These bloggers use multiple platforms to share their blogs, so they easily spread Outbound’s presence into sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, StumbleUpon, and Google.

Thoughts:

As Outbound continues to grow, more thought needs to be going into maximizing value, especially for the critics and creators. If you want to be a travel related site/app, you almost HAVE to have a forum where your users can seek advice beyond the standard functions of the site/app. This opens up the platform for more people to become involved in Outbound.

While Outbound has done a great job approaching bloggers, more time should be spend finding micro bloggers on Twitter. Personally, Twitter reaches a wider audience at a much quicker rate, while most of these bloggers only send updates when they have a new write up. I just think that there are a lot of travel related users on Twitter that have audiences that are way bigger than most bloggers have (even if those bloggers use Twitter as well).

Basically, before you decide to engage with your market beyond traditional marketing, you need to know what you are looking to get out of the interactions before you can decide which platform you are going to use. Then it’s all about keeping up the support.

Not so scary, is it?

Savvy?

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Sources:

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

http://www.outboundapp.org/

 

Categories: MARK4474- Social Media

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