Open Your Ears to the Groundswell

In the words of Ricardo Guimaraes, “brands belong to customers not companies” and therefore in is in those companies best interest to listen and integrate opinions in order to survive (Li & Bernoff, 2011). What does that mean, when they say companies need to listen? It is trying to capture the consumers behaviour, listening in on what they think about your company and learn from that; that is essentially listening to the groundswell or listening to the people. Well companies listen by using market research or surveys, that might not always be the best way. This is due to only having a limited amount of people who partake in those activities. 

Two Listening Strategies 

Companies are better off to look elsewhere for help gathering opinions due to the sheer volume of information out there. For example, if you are a travel company there are so many websites for consumer feedback: TripAdvisor,, not to mention social media sites on top of that. These professional tools offer two basic ways to listen:

  1. Set up your own private community: which is a large and continuous focus group 
  2. Begin brand monitoring: summary reports on what is happening in terms of consumer feedback 

Why Listening is Important 

The real power is in listening; yet it is sill one of the most essentially “neglected skill in business” (Li & Bernoff, 2011). 

real power is in listening

Here are the six reasons why an organization needs to start listening:

  1. Find out what your brands stands for: a company may know their message they are trying to get across, but what is actually being absorbed by consumers? 
  2. Understand how buzz is shifting: if they keep listening they will start to understand change rather than just have a baseline that it is occurring.
  3. Save research money; increase research responsiveness: attracts a higher interaction level, by answering the question why? Which is not able to be answered on once in a blue moon surveys. 
  4. Find the sources of influence in your market: find out who is talking about you with the most influence, in order to cultivate them.
  5. Manage PR crises: brand monitoring can ensure a problem, such as a negative online post, does not get out of hand before a company has a chance to respond to it. Time is money after all. 
  6. Generate new product and marketing ideas: integrate ideas from the consumer base, for the cheap price of FREE. 

While listening is a key business essential, acting on those findings is crucial.

smm_bg2.png What companies do with that information is what can set them apart from another company or result in a negative aftermath. Action can include talking back to the consumers. That relationship is a key aspect of ensuring success from the groundswell. 

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA, United States of America: Harvard Business Review Press.


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