Mar 12, 2009

Groundswell Blook Report:Chapter Eight – Helping the groundswell support itself

Groundswell is broken down into three parts. Part two (chapters 4-9) focus on tapping the groundswell. The authors provide advice and a strategic framework on how to do this.

Chapter 8: Helping the groundswell support itself

FriendFeed Room: Chapter Eight reference links and case studies from the book. Join the room and start a conversation.

Feature Video: Dell: Answering Questions with Support Forums, Josh Bernoff

How one “critic” (using the Social Technographics Ladder) saved Dell $1M in support costs.

Feature Presentation: Augmenting your Technical Documentation with User-Generated Content, The Content Wrangler

Slides 18-21: Lesson 1-There’s no one best way to organization information
Slides 22-25: Lesson 2-Users don’t care where they get help from
Slides 26-27: Lesson 3-Users are not a homogeneous group of clones
Slides 28-33: Lesson 4-Users are talking about you right now!
Slides 34-39: Lesson 5-Consumers love video and increasingly expect it
Slides 40-44: Required reading

What I learned:
People care, want to connect and help
For you hard nosed right brained people who think that “feelings” and “emotion” have nothing to do with business….think again! Hard nosed analytics and logic are still needed but the human side of business relationships are no different then personal ones. There are people who want to help solve problems because it makes them feel good. Emotions matter and creating a community that cares not only helps your customers it can impact your bottom line.

If your Social Technographic Profile over indexes in the area of joiners and critics and you have a complex product/solution then it is quite possible people are already helping each other out in forums, groups and on message boards. You should find this out and decide how you want to participate.

2) Your company needs to invest resources
First you need to determine whether people are supporting themselves through various social media tools and services. This takes patience, time and money. You need to dedicate a person or group of people to find this out.

Second, once you’ve decided how you want to help the groundswell you need to make sure the community grows and is active. It CANNOT be left alone to run on auto pilot. If someone asks a question they expect it to be answered. Figure out ways to make sure comments get answered within a reasonable timeframe.

Don’t think the technology and community will look after itself. If you want comments on each product page for example and you have 6000 products that means you could have 6000 different pages with questions on them. Think it through. Scale is not just about technology it's also about resources (people, time and money) and your ability to deliver.

3) Make it easy for top reviewers/answer providers to be found
These folks are amazing! Reward them by thanking them for their contributions. Get to know them as people and as potential employees. Make it so they can be found through search on your site.

4) It’s about solving problems, creating connections and institutional intelligence
Whether you use forums, wikis or reviews the purpose is to provide a mechanism that solves customer problems while reducing your support costs. In doing so you are creating direct connections with people who use your products and services.

People who will contribute answers and value add content which is now accessible to all people inside and outside of your organization. Tacit intelligence is what’s in our heads. The greatest fear companies have today is when their talent leaves so does the intelligence they’ve gathered that's in their heads.

Institutional intelligence is different. Forums, wikis and other tools generate intelligence which can be stored and searched. It becomes your company’s brain so to speak. Now when talent leave you have less to worry about.


  1. Hi Chris,
    Glad you liked to Groundswell book - I did as well. We've actually come along way since this we first presented the case to Forrester, you can check out some of our recent work here:

    and a case recently put together for McAfee's cases 2.0 effort:

  2. Thanks for the update Sean. I've added these links to the Groundswell blook report friendfeed room.