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Groundswell is that rare combination in a business book: Simple concepts and detailed explanations of what to do and how to evaluate the results. I especially liked the case histories that measured the economics of customer engagement.

The authors draw on their experiences at Forrester Research to show how right and wrong you can go by listening to, speaking with, engaging, providing for, and cooperating with customers. They caution starting small and feeling your way. Otherwise, you may bite off more than you are able to absorb.

For smaller companies, you'll also find suggestions of lower-cost ways to use social technologies that you can afford. Naturally, the options are more diverse and expensive for larger companies. But if you are spending a lot of time on marketing research, advertising, and promotions, you will probably find social technologies a less expensive way to go. If you have major expenses for customer support, social technologies can eliminate a lot of those. In addition, social technologies can help you gain faster insight into defects. For the lean company, these approaches will also make a lot of sense.

I liked the book so much that I included several references to it in my weekly briefing to entrepreneurs who want to build major businesses.

If, on the other hand, you are doing a lot with private communities, help forums, executive blogs, and evaluating customer observations, you won't find this book to be advanced enough for you. It's more of a beginner's guide.
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on April 24, 2009
Good social media 101 and how to book. I find the technographic part most helpful - it breaks users down to different types (creators that actively create sites/content, through to critics, collectors, joiners,spectators and inactives). Depending on your target audience group, there will be all six types with different distribution. Your social media strategy should then be designed based on your user based according to their technographic distirbution.
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What Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff characterize as "the groundswell" is "a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies. If you're in a company, this is a challenge...[This trend] has created s permanent, long-lasting shift in the way the world works. This book exists to help companies deal with the trend, [begin italics] regardless of how the individual technology pieces change [end italics]."More specifically, Li and Bernoff respond to questions such as these:

What unique threats does the groundswell pose?
How to turn it to competitive advantage, "like a jujitsu master"?
What are its component technologies?
What is The Social Technologies Profile and what does it offer?
What is the four-step POST process for creating strategies?
What are the five primary objectives for a groundswell strategy?
How to create customers who are evangelists for you?
How to establish and support relationships between and among your customers?
How can the same trends that empower customers also empower employees?

Throughout their narrative, drawing upon a wealth of data accumulated by Forrester Research as well as by their own studies, Li and Bernoff include a number of real-world examples - in the form of mini-case studies -- that demonstrate key points. They offer lessons to be learned from Mini USA, the American arm of BMW's Mini Cooper brand (how to listen through brand monitoring, Pages 89-93), Ernst & Young (how to communicate in social networks, Pages 104-106), Hewlett-Packard (how to communicate with customers through blogging, Pages 108-112), eBags (how to energize with customer ratings and reviews, Pages134-140), Constant Contact (how to energize by creating a community, Pages 140-145), the Lego Group (how to energize an existing community, Pages 145-147), and BearingPoint (how to use a wiki to reassure clients, Pages 165-168). Granted, not all of these lessons are directly relevant to a reader's own organization. However, they help to create a context for each key point as well as a frame of reference for what Li and Bernoff describe as a "permanent, long-lasting shift in the way the world works."

They conclude this brilliant book by offering some advice, not on what to do but on how to be: ever-mindful that the groundswell is about person-to-person activity, a good listener, patient, opportunistic, flexible, collaborative, and humble. Guided and informed by the information and counsel provided by Li and Bernoff, readers will be able to formulate and then execute strategies to achieve a competitive advantage. "You'll be able to build on your successes, both with customers and within your own company. And then, as the groundswell rises and becomes ubiquitous, you will be ready."

Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Rob Cross and Andrew Parker's The Hidden Power of Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations. Also Gary Hamel's The Future of Management (with Bill Breen) and Ram Charan's Leaders At All Levels as well as Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution co-authored by Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson, Richard Ogle's Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas, and Global Brain co-authored by Satish Nambisan and Mohanbir Sawhney.
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on June 5, 2009
This is an over 40 must if you want to analyze social media. It breaks down types of social media with traditional elements - relationships; identify the problem you want to solve and ROI. I have purchased a second book to give away and recommended to my colleagues.
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on August 10, 2009
I found this book to be full of a lot of wind and no substance. They went on and on just trying to make one point. All the ideas in the book are old too. Nothing fresh or new.
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