Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies Hardcover – 1 May 2008
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Every leader needs to read this book and make sure that his/her employees read it, too.
-- Børsen, Denmark, June 6, 2008
Readable and clearly argued ...Any organisation thinking of taking advantage of social networking will find plenty of food for thought.
-- IT Week, May 9, 2008
This business strategy book is set to help people see UGC not as a threat, but an opportunity to communicate. -- Putting People First - Experientia blog, May 4, 2008
'entertaining, well- written and mercifully free from techy details'
-- Financial Times, June 4th, 2008
Best Book in Marketing Category, Best Business Books 2008
-- Strategy and Business, December 2008
For any businesses that have not yet ventured into the world of social media, Groundswell is an excellent guide. -- ILM Edge magazine, September 2008
This book is a must-read for anyone getting to grips with the impact of Web 2.0 on business.
-- Information Age, August 7th 2008
`for Groundswell's intended audience ... the emphasis on data and analytics is not a bug - it's a feature.'
-- Financial Times, 21 May 2008
Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff define 'the groundswell' as a social structure in which technology puts power into the hands of individuals and communities, not institutions. We see examples of this all around us: Second Life, You Tube, Twitter, etc. The technology that is enabling this has created a permanent, long lasting shift in the way the world works. This compelling and research-based book will not only identify the emerging components of this shift, but will also help companies build their businesses around it, regardless of what specific new technologies come along. The word on social computing has been out for a while. It's game changing. Books like Wikinomics begin to describe what the networked world has become. But institutions of all kinds need more than descriptive context.They need tools to navigate the shift in power that social computing and web communities have created. They need data on how their customers use and perceive new media, and guidance about what it means to their business. More than that, they need sophisticated advice that tells them how to turn this new reality to their advantage. This book provides that data and advice.Li and Bernoff, well-known thought leaders in the area of social technology, have used their considerable resources at Forrester Research to generate hard consumer data that quantifies a viable business opportunity. Based on their work with dozens of companies presented in the book, the authors are able to credibly describe how business can participate in the new social medium in order to communicate with, energize, support, and learn from their customers.More importantly, their work offers proof that prepared organizations can reap significant financial benefits in product development, marketing, PR, sales, and customer retention. They will use their own proprietary data and additional survey research to illuminate the strategies appropriate for specific brands, media, outlets, institutions, and nations. See all Product description
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Although much of the specific content is now very dated, the principles it sets out are still very useful, especially categorising internet users as creators (who upload videos, write blogs posts etc), critics (who comment on other people’s content, rate videos, etc),collectors (who tag comment, subscribe to feeds etc), joiners (who sign up to social networking sites etc), spectators (who read and watch but don’t take party) and the inactives (who do none of this).
It is written by a couple authors from Forrester, so it will be little surprise that it is really strong on the strategy front. It successfully manages to link what we are seeing happening today on the Internet to strategies for succeeding in this space. The first part of the book provides us with an understanding of how to match solutions to an organisation's specific customer base. Users are categorised according to whether they are: creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, or inactives. This categorisation comes from Forrester's Social Technographics tool and you can find more information on the book's website  and even generate your own profile. The blog on the website is very good, by the way.
The authors then match technical solutions to an organisation's objectives: namely, listening, talking energizing, supporting and embracing their customers. Part 2 of the book is dedicated to stepping through each of these objectives providing worked through examples of how organisations have succeeded in each of these domains. As you might imagine, adopting the appropriate technique for your particular audience is absolutely key.
If you are interested in Innovation, chapters 8 and 9 have some useful insights on the role customers can play in the innovation process.
In a area that is frequently over-hyped, this book provides significant insight and examples that reinforce what following a successful strategy can do for you and your company. If you are about to embark on your first venture into this space, I would strongly suggest that you read this book first. Highly recommended.
The writing style is clear, accessible and no-nonsense. I won't win any literary prises, but for this sort of book you wouldn't want anything else. One minor niggle was the formula used as the beginning of many chapters: "Fred is a (whatever) and here's his story..." - it grated a bit by the sixth or seventh time they used this device.
But that aside I can't fault it. It helps clarify one's thinking about what the social media groundswell is, and how to recognise its various manifestations, and it then goes on to give so0lid, practical suggestions for how you can adapt to and adopt the groundswell positively in your organisation.
As a companion to this I'd also recommend "Here Comes Everybody" by Clay Shirky.