Musings on Groundswell

September 20, 2009 at 11:19 pm 1 comment

In my Interactive Writing and Design class, we’re reading a book called, Groundswell, that looks at marketing in this socially-networked society. The phrase “groundswell” refers to the trend of people using technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of a new corporation. A few questions occurred to me, as we had a discussion about it in class a couple of days ago:

1. What role will ethics play in the groundswell?
2. Will bricks-and-mortar businesses be able to survive not jumping on the social media bandwagon?

My Answers:

1. For companies to succeed in the age of the groundswell, they have to be out there on the messageboards conversing with consumers, making connections on Facebook and tweeting about anything and everything. A classmate shared an anecdote about a coworker at a newspaper who logs on to the online forums with several different names and comments on posts. With consumers going to forums and boards for information, is this ethical? This also reminds me of something we talked about in the Media Law seminar before the program officially started. The idea of companies using bots, posing as teenaged girls to make friends with “real girls” to learn about their interests and lives. The girls would tell these bots things, and the bots would remember and reference them…and the girls were never informed that they were not talking to a real person but a robot. I think on both counts it’s unethical, because you are deceiving people  to further the interests of your company.

2. And thus I decree, yes! But really, I think that in the quickly approaching hyperconnected world, almost every business will be on the Internet. There are already businesses that are solely on the Internet. I think that in an age where everything will be online, a store that only exists in bricks-and-mortar form will become a novelty and people may go to it just for that reason. Our professor mentioned “locavores”–people who only buy from within a 50 mile radius in order to support local economies and such things. I think that with the hyperconnected world there will be a backlash of people who stick to “the old ways”, going to Best Buy and picking up a camera, holding it in their hands before buying as opposed to just viewing it on a site and clicking a button. There’s something to be said for people wanting customized, personal experiences.


Entry filed under: COM 530- Theory & Analysis, COM 540- Interactive Writing & Design.

F2F Friday: A New Kind of Education Happy One Web Day!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. steveearley  |  September 17, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Considering whether companies must have a Web presence got me thinking about whether the most basic element of this — having a Web site — is even necessary. It’s certainly possible for a company to build a brand without one, relying exclusively on a groundswell/viral existence.

    There’s a certain novelty to this approach that a lot of customers would find appealing. Customers tend to view these more organic communications as more authentic. Plus, this frees a company from the capital burden and inherent vulnerabilities of running a Web site. It requires domain fees, buying or renting server space and a design and developer staff. And it’s just sitting out there as a stationary target for hackers, viruses, competitors and groundswellers who could damage your brand.


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