Talking with Groundswell

Talking Techniques

Two of the main marketing concepts to speak to consumers are advertising and public relations, these are also the most expensive shouting techniques. shouting-370x229These are also one-way conversations, telling people what they want.  The marketing funnel is a metaphor describing how consumers are communicated to and their journey towards the final purchase. Shouting (Advertising) herds them in, while activities try to persuade them further until a few become loyal consumers. Groundswell’s influence is greatest in the middle section.


Talking involves back-n-forth interaction. Although there are multiple methods, here are four common techniques to talking within groundswell.

Post a viral video

Harder than it sounds. Trends are always changing and it is hard to predict what people will react to. WestJet makes this look easy on their youtube channel with millions of views daily. They have multiple series categorised by Christmas miracle videos, April fool’s jokes, Disney-themed planes, vacations, products and fan favourites. Some videos only gain a couple hundred where others gain millions of views. The benefits of videos going viral result in massive reach as well as lower cost for production and advertising.

One of my favourite WestJet Videos April Fool’s jokes is Kargo Kids. Even though their April fool’s jokes don’t gain as much attention as their Christmas videos, it still went viral when it was released in 2012 with 1,317, 843 views.

Engage in social networks and user-generated content sites

Not every company or brand should use social media to connect with their desired target audience. For some, it just doesn’t make sense. However, the first thing a business should do is ensure and analyze their audience online interest using the Social Technographic Profile. Creating an online presence is the easy part, maintaining it and turning it into a conversation is a lot harder. Brands like WestJet, have a massive following on multiple platforms because it makes sense to connect to their audience through these networks. They create a presence to encourage interaction and listen to what their consumers are communicating that resembles their brand “owners care”. Listed below are a few of the social networks WestJet utilizes and the number of followers on each.

Twitter:  14.3 K followers

Facebook: 819,108 people like and follow

Youtube: 60,964 subscribers

LinkedIn: 46392 followers

Instagram: 87.2K Followers

P.s. look out for fan pages and groups that exist on social accounts that use your company and monitor what they post.

Join the blogosphere

As discussed in a previous post, WestJets Social Technographic Profile suggests that their audience is comprised mostly of Joiners and Spectators. It makes sense that WestJet would create their own blog to provide updates for their readers. Their blog covers multiple topics such as News, Owners Care stories, New Destinations and Operations.  Remember, “what starts on blogs can rapidly spread to mainstream media” (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Create a community

“Communities are a powerful way to engage with your customers and deliver value to them” (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Online communities allow companies like WestJet to bring together customers who share similar views and discuss different opinions. Most of these discussions provide feedback for the organization on what they are doing right and what they need to fix or change completely. Beware, if content is not updated or relevant, negative effects could emerge and turn customers against you.


So, to recap, look at who your audience is and tailor your talking approach to fit their profile characteristics. Determine what kind of communication problem you have and expand on it further. By talking with customers (using groundswell), it creates a stronger connection between the company and their consumers. This results in comments and feedback where companies can utilize this information and grow by listening to what consumers have to say. Just keep in mind that maintaining an online presence is a long-term commitment.



Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies.  Boston, USA: Forrester Research Inc.

WestJet (2012) April Fool’s – WestJet introduces child-free cabins – Kargo Kids. Youtube. Retrieved from

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