Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff in the book Groundswell


Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff in their book Groundswell give up-to-date strategies to organizations on how to succeed in their businesses through social media and marketing. It presents useful schema on how we view the opportunities of groundswell as marketers. Organizations world over are experiencing social revolution championed by their customers and employees. This has posed great challenges to organizations prompting some of them to channel energy arising from potentially disruptive radicals to revolutionaries that bring positive and lasting change. Web, which is known to require very little from each individual has become the most sought after democratic tools for engaging activities in history.

The Web gives people greater right and opportunity and facilitates spread of message to other people by just one click. Through social media, people have been able to express their views more quickly and without much effort than it was previously. Thus, there is a revolution coming from the way people are communicating to each other and organizations need to harness the power of the Web in order to effectively communicate with the masses. Organizations attracting attention of masses are not the ones seen having big budgets and flashy TV but those with great Web content. The Web has facilitated globalization which has led to the creation of borderless society. Economically, it has opened new market for products as through this channel, organizations can market their products thus increase their sales and profits. It is therefore observed that power has shifted forever from the corporate world to consumers. People no longer value TV and radio advertisements and have substituted them with internet forums, blogs, and other social networking sites that have created a new gesture of marketing. You Tube has replaced TV advertisements.


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Observing in business angle, the groundswell refers to consumer sovereignty movement. This implies that consumers are free to give comment regarding any product and can as well read comments expressed by other consumers. This is attributed to Web which has facilitated and intensified consumer collaboration. This has resulted to more people availing themselves due to consumer collaboration and it is approximated that in 2006, more than three quarters of US population and two thirds of Europeans population were found to be online. South Korea is leading in the world, with almost 90 percent of population using broadband connection and is followed closely by France. The advent of Web 2.0 has threatened the survival of traditional institutions, with many experiencing a shortfall in their revenue as advertisement has gone online. Branders, who previously had greater say have lost to consumers who now have taken control in redefining the brand online and as such B2B organizations, are rated by their customers using sites such as Linkeld.


As stated by Kleindorfer, et al. (2001), groundswell is democracy at its utmost and it enables both transparency and immediacy. Individuals and companies define groundswell as a challenge and opportunity to leverage and embrace and companies that do not comply with technologies definitely fall behind. In future, lack of online brand will determine if one gets an interview with a company of choice. This will also determine whether the clients sides with a company or its competitors. Companies can leverage online network and turn their collectors and critics to be connectors and salespersons.

Employees spending a lot of their time energizing other people and sharing their knowledge are the real representatives of the company value. Embracing the groundswell is uncomforting and scary. The resistance to change is strong (both to individuals and corporate) but the paybacks are amazing in a matter of fact use of technology can be extremely rewarding, especially if organizations get into implementation of a corporate Wiki. According to Kleindorfer, et al. (2001), embracing the groundswell ought to resemble any other open-minded learning experience. It will involve personal skills, opportunism, collaboration, flexibility, humbleness, patience and listening. Corporate executives have in recent days faced with numerous potentially inexplicable situations. Many people express their opinion on companies and corporate through blogs, on You Tube from their own commentaries, rebroadcasting TV commercials, editing and defining organizations on Wikipedia, on company website's catalogue which contains tags, on social sites like the twitter and the face book etc. These social technologies combined enable the social trend of technologies used by people and corporate to attain what they want from other corporate and individuals; "the groundswell." The executives can make a choice of succumbing to groundswell and are swallowed whole by the prevailing challenges. Alternatively they choose to utilize the advantages this helps them to thrive in the industry.

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Those executives who opt to choose thriving in the groundswell, according to Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, they use the Japanese basic strategy of the martial art jujitsu to be the basic approach in groundswell point of view. The Japanese Jujitsu teaches on how to utilize the opponents' power to one's own advantage. For an individual or a corporate to do that, it has to shrewd to comprehend in a vast approach the opponents' way before engaging them. The most imperative concept to keep in mind in regard to groundswell is the reality that the focus is not on the technologies but on the relationships.

The technologies provide the platforms that enable relationships as well as the connectedness among people. It also present the ever available ability to stay connected as it is the true source of power. In absence of the people, technologies are ineffectual however, it is necessary to comprise a working understanding of these technologies. This will help in understanding how technologies facilitate interaction among people. It is only after understanding exactly how they enable relationships that one can establish their potential hazard to institutional power, and determine how to use these power to own benefit.

Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, present Social Techno graphics Profile (STP) as a groundswell application understanding. The Social Techno graphics Profile (STP) provides data on a few groups of customers. An example is from Japanese PC owners to the Toys Shoppers; it allows the company to analyze their customers' media predispositions socially. These classifications entail spectators, collectors, joiners, creators and inactive, these are the least involved in the groundswell to the principally involved in the groundswell. They concentrate on engaging groundswell in a suitable way for association and this entails a four-step planning development to construction a unique groundswell strategy for ones organization and it is called POST method. The People Objective Strategy and Technology (POST) starts with a primary question, "What are customers' expectations?" In this initial step the answer can be obtained in using right Social Techno graphics Profile (STP). The following step which entails Objectives, on analyzing objectives the major question is; "what is your goal?" A good example is if someone is looking to create sales or enhance employee efficiency. The third step is the strategy.

On strategizing the major question has been. "How is one supposed to perceive the relationship between the company and the customer?" and finally the last step of the POST is Technology and its major question is "what are the most valuable applications?"In the course of this progression it is imperative that management remember the process commences with clients and ends with technology. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff get into details for every objective observed as most significant for the company to adopt. The five objectives include; listening to the groundswell (this helps to gain insights), energizing the groundswell (this inspires customers to trade each other), talking to groundswell (entails sparking conversation), assisting groundswell to support itself (support each other to cut cost), and finally embracing groundswell (this provides that one be open to customer input in regard to products and services).

As the Web becomes entirely social, there is need to allow users to three things. These include establishment of single identity to log on several sites; share classified resources like the photos credentials and contacts and distribution of information to multiple social application. Some of the examples of companies which are sophisticated to an extent of using groundswell are the Del Monte pet foods which use a classified online society too regularly, they chat with approximately four hundred lovers of pet from whom they get opinions that assist in improving their products. Another is Ernst & Young which recruit about four thousand graduates hired annually through career group. Mini USA is another company that has been using groundswell in its operation through blogs, discussion groups and uses the information to guide advertising campaigns.

Disruptive social technologies

When discussing disruptive social technology we observe ground well to demonstrate fundamentally changing concepts of communication, organization and dynamicity of technology. The prospective of mass-collaboration on open-source scheme like the Wordpress, Linux, Drupal and Firefox has been challenging the conventional top-down hierarchies of great institution like churches, governments and corporate. There are numerous old institutional hierarchies some which are breaking down and others that are supported with bailouts. However, the ground has temporarily shifted below them. Corporate as well as people have always drawn strength from each other and often they have drawn strength from one another. On other occurrences they have rebelled against social institutional power in social activities like the labor unions as well as political revolutions. The balance that existed between the scale of economics of institutions and the rebellion of the constituents has shifted with time for the lack of initiation and spread of social technologies. Critically the hierarchical processes that are mainly observed among the old age corporate are built to control ideas; (like the copy right and the slogan). However, the rapidly changing online social technologies have undermined these traditional technologies and presented difficult challenges for numerous traditional institutions.

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According Li & Bernoff (2008), reforms give relevance to the message or gives way for replacement of messages with something new and that which is substituted with people's expectations and desire. Most online social drifts and technologies advanced from their contemporary adolescent position that they offer to establish a legitimate social justice meritocracy and democracy instead of the usual pay lip services to the common ideals.

Changing consumer habits

With the emergence of social networks there are several managerial fundamental shifts in the society and the major one of all is the dynamics of the customer. As depicted by the Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, customers are becoming more empowered and in recent times the financial crisis hitting the corporate are due to lack of trust and confidence in the institutions. Thus the enormous advancement of the social network and increased interdependence among states since corporate have resulted from widening market segment through bloggers. There is a tendency of corporate and its partners to create a chain and realize the value of managing a huge network of companies. At this level social network become an essential tool of the context.

Understanding the social technologies improves the way an individual communicates. It is important to note that these social platforms can easily be substituted when something good comes along. It is good to concentrate on utilization of social tools to put up momentous relationships. There are three major trends of social networking in the way corporate use the internet today. Initially, the process in regard to information discovery is changing from introvert activity to a collective activity. Secondly, the manner in which exchanging of information is changing i.e. from sharing information keenly through emailing and sending photos to friends to sharing it passively through uploading the photos to social networks like twitter and emailing notification to acquaintances. On the third account, it is essential to understand that the Web has entirely become social. Currently, social network is not a site but a concept. Any brand building activity or research associated with the internet must have an intrinsic social nature in it for success.

Evolving opportunities

Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (2008), demonstrate the work of the technological networks in artificial intelligence to the business structures that have been formed today. They show the need of the people to incorporate their business to these networks to catalyze growth. These social network provide some degree of humility that corporation should have about the current understanding and capability to have power over networks. According to (Ashill & Yavas, 2005),they also represent in some way the growing imperative to cover peripheral visions to evaluate, scan and look for prospects that might emerge from the social networks that the corporate won't look for in case they were if they were to take the typical firm-centric view which includes that everything come about from the headquarter . Several companies have decided to open architecture and have created a social network to both the customers and the employees in every division and they have also created a social network for developers to join in and understand the policy. They have also commenced on development of products and services on such platform. Social network has created business opportunities for companies, this is because through that platform many companies have been able to win more customers and this increased their sales leading to their rapid growth. Nonetheless, companies which have failed to embrace this new technology have been pushed out of business because of maintaining their old tradition which has become irrelevant in this dynamic 21st century.

Customer Centric Strategy

In reference to Del Rio, et al. (2001), it is essential to understand that every company recognizes the centrality of its customers in its business model. Companies must start with designing of strategies by understanding on its evolving needs to the customers and the increased significance of social network in the life of a customer. This way it is easy to capitalize and implement a customer centric strategy where you realize what you have empowered all the customers and that they are all part of the network.

The biggest obstacle faced by the companies today is that the more they edge to network and start to try on controlling the network they more they lose their grip on traditional control. That is the biggest problem that the management must put up with in the network times. It is also important to understand how companies achieve their objectives when they are operating on social technology and blogs than when they were on the firm-centric world. Involvement of the customers to start with is part of innovative work however, open innovation is very broad. Companies like the InnoCentive or the eBay of innovations solve problem for so many companies that seek advice from them. There are numerous developments in the world and it will just take a little time before they capitalize on new managerial skills involved in networks and social technology (Del Rio et al., 2001).

The more one knows and understands individuals who make up the groundswell around the company brand, the more one can use new social networking brand for the company to their advantage. Such comprehension comes from being better than the conventional surveys used earlier. Conversely, according to Li & Bernoff (2008), very few companies study on how people essentially interact with the Web in addition to exploiting online collaborative mechanism. Much of today's internet turn around individual users and the content they generate, the transactions they choose and the community they form.

As indicated by Shawndra (1999), the lives of people are affluent and complex, which means one, has to retrieve data from the large and the small. This means quantitative data from large groups on answering who, how and where can be extracted. It is significantly sound to look keenly at people's disposition in regard to social network to uncover surprises. For instance most youth are adept at internet usage. To assist the companies on targeting internet strategies Li & Bernoff (2008) illustrates well on social technology ladder, this classifies consumers based on their contributions in various categories of social networks.


In a nutshell, organizations are challenged to access tools that would help them to navigate and shift power that has been created by social computing and Web communities. This means that companies are required to have data at their disposal regarding to the way their customers use and distinguish new media as well as guidance pertaining to importance to their business operations. Besides, organizations need to be advised on how to turn new changes to their advantage. Companies embracing new social media are bound to communicate with their customers effectively in addition to energizing, supporting and learning from them. This will lead to companies reaping significant financial benefits in aspects of product development, and marketing as well as in PR, sales and customer retention. Companies will be able to put into use their own data in the record and additional survey research to avail appropriate strategies with respect to specific brands, media and outlets. There are manifold factors reflecting real movement of social media and these include: people, technology and economics. Human beings are social animals and therefore depend on each other in sharing what is in their possession. Customers are known to have always an idea regarding to what the brand signifies and vary from one image of the brand to another. Customers redefine the brand in through the process of sharing with one another.

People are known to share information using the available technologies and also react through the same channel to economics. Establishment of relationship is vital for business because through it, people linking with companies build a strong relationship with the brand thus leading to high sales and growth for companies. Nonetheless, companies find being threatened by these new social technological platforms which have made companies to spend huge sum of money to come with strategies to counter its explosion. This has not helped them either and as such they have been forced to comply with the new technology or face closure. Globalization and technological development is the way forward for companies that want to succeed in this competitive 21st century that is characterized by consumer sovereignty facilitated through social networking.