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September 17, 2007

Insights from 78 social media projects

by Josh Bernoff

I just finished reviewing the 78 submissions for the Groundswell Awards. All I can say is, wow! People are doing some pretty incredible work out there.

We are still determining the winners. Please don't call or write -- you already sent in your entry, and we have looked them all over in quite a lot of detail. (If you haven't sent one it, get ready for next year, because it's just too late to submit one now!)

But I wanted to share some of what I learned from reviewing all the submissions.

  • People still think of social technologies more for marketing (speaking) than anything else, but we got good entries in all the categories. Here are how the submissions laid out by category (some tried in multiple categories, so this adds to more than 100%).

22% Listening
32% Speaking
10% Energizing
23% Supporting
15% Embracing
14% Managing
10% Social Impact

  • The diversity is incredible. We saw people using Facebook, MySpace, and their own communities; companies in telecom, financial services, automotive, packaged goods, and academics; and applications aimed at everybody from politically active consumers to young women to stock traders. The social virus is spreading, and nobody is immune. Among our favorites (fun to talk about . . . doesn't necessarily mean they'll win a prize) are a college campus in Argentina that runs itself with an online community and a site for people potty training their kids. One guy sent in his thesis. Plus the site where you can design your own part of the US-Mexico border fence. Of course, some of them were lame-o, but reviewing the whole set was a real eye-opener.
  • What matters most is results. We said we would recognize the best sites, not the most beautiful. We were strongly influenced by statements of results. Many, many people who are doing social projects out there didn't know what they hoped to accomplish, or couldn't prove they accomplished anything. I find it interesting that the more categories your entry fits in, the less likely it is to have proven business value. In the end, it's business value that will separate the winners from the rest.

Just a reminder -- we'll be announcing the winners at the Forrester Consumer Forum, taking place October 11 and 12 in Chicago. You should come! Why? (1) you'll get to see who won the awards. (2) You'll get to see incredible speeches from Richard Edelman, Christina Norman (president of MTV), Christie Hefner (CEO of Playboy), Microsoft's Robbie Bach, and Professor Henry Jenkins, the fan culture wizard of MIT. And (3) Charlene and I are giving the keynote speech and unveiling some of the ideas from the book Groundswell for the first time.

We'll talk more about the winners right here in the blog, after the event is over.

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Tom O'Brien

Interesting that only 22% had to do with listening - I guess for most that feels like passive activity vs. taking action.

Our business is built on listening - consumer conversations in the wild - so of course I think that is the most important thing.

Good work.

Tom O'B


Great post! Really enjoyed it!

David Ambrose

Wow, didn't realize that you linked to my thesis. Hopefully it wasn't "lame-o" even though it was a stretch for some of the guidelines. Nonetheless, good luck to all!

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