Groundswell- This started out as a review…
Months ago, I requested and received from Forrester Research a review copy of the book “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Little did they know it would take me months to get around to finishing it, or that I would try (and fail) to post my review via phone, limiting me to about 100 words. Like I just said, that failed, and this review will be slightly longer.
I’m not going to judge the quality of Groundswell. It’s pointless; this is an excellent book. I have always admired the work done at Forrester Research, and this book follows suit in thoroughness, though it reads much better than a research report. It’s not nearly so dry (ok, define “dry” but I didn’t get bored). Most of the authors of these too-many books on social media are pretty smart and make good cases. So rather than publish a book review, here are just a few observations:
Note: turns out I devolved into nitpicking below. Let’s just say Groundswell is an excellent book to dive into and use a basis for making the case for social media in your company. It brings as good a pack of case studies as any of these social media books, and has the credibility of Forrester Research behind it. And frankly, listing out the things I liked in the book is no fun beyond what I just wrote. So enjoy my nits– they’re more social media nitpicks than criticisms of the book anyway. Feel free to have at it in comments.
I do wish Li and Bernoff they had been more explicit about how to sell social media inside a company, and what chunk of a business social media might represent. Sure, one size doesn’t fit all, but people needing to sell social media need to figure out how to show how it’ll move the needle. Will case studies alone work? I think they might, but I’m not now in the position of having to try that. In short, recommending changes in entrenched corporations we all can agree is smart, but it just isn’t easy. I guess I’m looking for a manual rather than a narrative.
I was astounded at the estimated cost- -$283,000 for the first year – of starting an executive blog. If I presented that as a potential budget item, I’d probably be shipped off to the Presque Isle office (the epitome of the frozen outpost- a reference from my retail days– ok, just say “Siberia”). That sounds like a lot of lettuce. If I’m selling, I might limit my pitch to materials costs (using internal IT, emphasizing inexpensive blogging platforms, selling the enthusiasm that the blogging executive had better bring to the endeavor), as well as the benefits also laid out in the book.
OK, gosh, I’m picking nits– but while I’m at it, how are the BlendTec ads “conversation?” They’re commercial spots. Mr. BlendTec man is not dialoging with his customers, he’s starring in an extremely entertaining one-to-many video. That’s not the innovation, the media they chose to distribute was innovative and the ability to let people share the videos was ingenious– though I guess it’s old hat now.
(Gratuitous insertion of BlendTec video. Mmmm, guacamole….)
Really. I liked the book a lot. I can just get grouchy sometimes.
One last one: the vision of the “future” in Groundswell seems to rely on “push” technologies. I would argue that the fractured media audience is evolving towards more “pull” – on-demand viewing/reading/whatever. Of course, this may reflect a personal preference.