The five reasons companies should participate in the Groundswell
by Josh Bernoff
Forrester's corporate clients approach us all the time to ask "Should I do a blog?" or "Should I start a community?" or other similar questions.
Wrong questions. Or at least the wrong place to start.
The corporate world has slowly gone from unware to fearful to, now, curious about how to engage with social networks, what to do about user generated media, how to participate in the blogosphere, and so on. Thanks to books like Citizen Marketers and The Cluetrain Mainfesto awareness is rising. What's still missing, in general, is the why.
Why are you interested in participating? What are your actual goals?
It's in this spirt that I modestly offer this framework: five reasons to participate in the groundswell. These are the five basic objectives a company or other organization can hope to accomplish in the social world. You should pick one or two, then choose your tools and strategies accordingly.
LISTENING. Finding out what your customers are really saying. Best tools are brand monitoring, private communities like Communispace, ratings/reviews.
- SPEAKING. Connecting with your customers in new ways, extending PR and marketing. Best tools are blogs, podcasts, participation in MySpace/YouTube and other user-generated media.
ENERGIZING. Getting your best customers to evangelize your products. Best tools are public communities and ratings/reviews.
SUPPORTING. Helping customers solve their own and each other's problems. Best tools are blogs, forums, wikis.
- EMBRACING. Working with your customers to make products better. Best tools are communities, user-generated media.
This may seem very basic to the sophisticates out there in the Web 2.0 community. But I think it's actually the tonic companies need to discipline their thinking about what the heck they're doing in this space.
We're planning on using this to structure the prescriptive portions of the book -- one chapter on each of these objectives, with case studies from companies that are doing it.
I'm very interested in your reaction. I'm looking forward to your comments on our framework. And if your company is pursuing these objectives successfully, we'd love to feature you.