All right stop, collaborate, and listen.

Everybody stop what you’re doing. It’s March 7, 2011, and we’re totally living like it’s December 1, 2012. I think we better converse about this in the groundswell. Unfortunately, in the last chapter of Groundswell the authors try to mystify us of what a typical day will be like in the future, but we’ve already beat them to the punch. In fact, every morning I don’t get out of bed until I’ve figured out what’s going on in the world with my “sophisticated mobile device.” And to think, I can do all that on it and it only cost me $29.99 with a two-year agreement. Flashback to when you were eight years old. “Take out the trash. Make your bed. Brush your teeth and comb your hair.” “No, no, no, and no.” Jump forward to present day. “Make a wiki. Contribute to it daily. Listen to the conversations. BE A PART OF THE GROUNDSWELL!” “Umm, let me see: no, no, no, and how about no?” People will never want to do something if you make them. Chapter 11 got it right when they said that one thing that won’t ever increase people’s participation is coercion.  You can encourage people to become a part of something, but they never want to be told that they should do something or that it’s required to participate. 

Like on page 229: “People need to want to use the wiki. If your early participants aren’t finding your social application valuable or useful, you’d better fix it first, rather than force it on the rest of the organization.”

This kind of brings me back to a point made in chapter 10. “Think your marketing organization could never transform like Unilver to embrace the groundswell? Such a change typically requires a lot of pain and cajoling, and never happens quickly” (p. 202). Do executives today really need that much cajoling or are they starting to understand the importance of social media and creating a conversation with their audience?

In Choeng and Morrison’s (2008) article, they examine consumers' opinions of online recommendations embedded in UGC compared with those of producer-generated content. In regards to eWOM, they say it is more effective when consumers find the information on a third-party Web site, independent of the company to which the content relates. I agree with this, but I’m also kind of skeptical because how do you know that someone from that company isn’t the one who started the conversation on that third-party site? I do agree that participants voice more trust in product information created by other consumers than in information generated by manufacturers. In many of my purchases, or at least high involvement purchases (because does anyone actually call a friend up while standing in the toothpaste aisle saying, “Hey man, I really can’t decide. Does the one with sparkles make your mouth feel fresher?”), I always consult around and look into what other people have to say about the product or service before I buy into it. I don’t care what the company’s commercials and ads say or show, if “my people” don’t feel that it’s the best then I’m going to take their word for it.

In “Fluent,” Razorfish’s social influence marketing report, they pretty much tell the whole Groundswell book under their “Implications for Brands” section bullet points. Such examples:

Brands must socialize with consumers. It won’t be enough for brands to craft powerful messages and push them through different media channels. They will need to participate directly in conversations with consumers and provide more meaningful value exchanges. And they will need to do so in ways that increase their relevance and value in the eyes of their consumers — or the brands will be completely ignored.

Brands must develop a credible social voice. Regardless of the industry, brands will need to focus on developing credible voices for SIM. These voices will need to be more engaging, personal, humble, authentic and participatory than traditional advertising messages.

Brands must provide a return on emotion to their consumers. Presently, loyalty between consumers and brands is asymmetric. The more consumers sense a symmetrical relationship, the more loyal they will be. Social media is a great tool for building symmetrical brand relation- ships, in which both the brand and the consumer reap equal returns from their relationship.

I thought the statistics regarding people’s perceptions of their social media connections and influences were interesting. “A significant percentage of respondents labeled themselves as contributors to social media, with 71 percent saying they share a product, service or restaurant recommendation with others online at least every few months. Yet, when respondents were asked if they sought out opinions about brands through social media, a full 62 percent said no.” So basically, people don’t realize what they’re doing, and if they do, they just don’t know what to call it.

The most significant information from this report that stood out to me was that the automotive industry knows how to make a presence in online conversation. High five to the cars, they figured out how to break the ice. And even with all of the dilemmas of safety recalls and bailouts they’ve had to deal with, they still have a lot of positive or neutral conversations about them.

Oh, in the section about social ads… aren’t they pretty much just like widgets? The way they were describing them and how they would work I kept thinking of the different widgets you can add to a website versus an ad trying to sell something or create awareness of a brand.

In Burns’ (2010) article about mommy bloggers, she discusses the relationship between bloggers and public relations practitioners. I feel like this relationship with bloggers (influential bloggers, not Joe Schmoe down the street) is very common. I also expect that companies will send these high-influence bloggers freebies just as celebrities receive free items. Bloggers typically already disclose their relationships; I don’t think readers care where they got the products as long as they feel that the reviews are honest.