The title of this post is a bit deceptive. If you’re familiar with Forrester Research book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, then you may have already gotten a chuckle out of this post. If you haven’t its seriously well past time you got on board. The groundswell is going to happen with or without you, so its time to hop on. If you need a brief rundown of what all of this swelling ground business is all about, here’s is the guy who came up with the idea to explain it himself:

So, this is a lot of fun because in going out and finding sources for this subject – twice actually – I kept winding up back at the post I made on the subject on my own blog. So I’m just going to let that post do most of the talking. Read the following post I authored in response to ABC Entertainment’s VPs of Marketing winning the Marketing Maverick Award, and check back in with me here once you’ve made it through. ABC Was Being a Maverick, Before Mavericks Were Cool.

If you weren’t living under a rock in the first half of this decade, you probably noticed that the entertainment industry was at war with the Internet. Napster fought the RIAA, and the law won. Television networks scoured YouTube, Google Video, and the rest of the video sharing sites out there to try and limit Internet users access to their copyrighted materials.

They were within their rights, and nearly every digital piracy case went in favor of the plaintiff. But, for every site they took down, 30 more popped up, and for every peer to peer downloader they sued, tens of 1000s more peers were brazenly sharing their music, video, and software files across the globe. Slowly, the entertainment industry realized that this was not a trend.

We were in the digital age, and the entertainment industry could either join the rest of the global community, or become obsolete. Suddenly, services like iTunes, Netflix Online, GameFly, and hundreds of others started distributing their music online. Their profits were down, but at least they were selling again.

Well, in comes ABC. It decided that it was tired of being behind the curve on technology. So, it invested large amounts of money into – get this – giving away their programing for free online! they developed the first full-length episode player on a major Network’s website.

Deciding that it wasn’t enough to just offer the current episodes, they offered whole seasons of their programing  for free. the only catch was you had to sit through a few 30 second advertisements. Go to any TV network’s site and you will see that they have an episode player now. Go ahead, pick one. I’ll wait.

See what I mean? The interesting thing about ABC’s programing is that they were hitting a huge variety of demographics depending on which shows they were watching. And one thing they noticed was that their hit drama LOST had very technically savvy fans.

So they went to them. they brought their two intrests together and created whole networks and activities that appealed to both their interest in LOST and their interest in the Internet.

They “Listened” in at LOST fan sites and bulletin boards. They “Talked” with their publics through the use of fake websites, secret online puzzles, and mini-webisodes that kept the fans coming back between episodes. They “Energized” their publics through the use of the ARG keeping them actively engaged in the story during the writers strike. They “Supported” their fans by encouraging and enabling the development of online wikis and fan communities by providing information and exclusive content to the fans in these groups.

That just leaves “Embracing” of the strategies that Groundswell highlights. Embracing is the trickiest, beacuse it requires to you give up some of the control of your product to the customers. Its kind of like socialism for comercial enterprise.

I would argue that ABC’s entire approach to marketing LOST to its high-tier social technographic fanbase, is embracing them by bringing them much further into a TV drama than they ever have been before.

ABC’s Marketing department understands the process that Bernoff discusses at the very beginning of that video. They understand that they can’t market every show this way. Its is only because their publics are high on the technographic ladder that this technique worked. They analyzed their publics, chose the objectives the wished to achieve and then used the technology that best enabled them to reash those publics.