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April 21, 2008

Notes from inside the groundswell

by Josh Bernoff

As we continue to promote Groundswell ahead of this week's formal launch at the Web 2.0 Expo, an amazing thing is happening.

We really do feel like we're becoming part of a conversation.

The simplest way to see this is to do a Tweetscan of "groundswell." You get a few extraneous tweets, but in general you'll see what people are saying -- and in general they're exciting to be finding the book, buying the book, and reading the book. (Except for Shannon Whitely who put it down for a second and somebody swiped it.)

I'll highlight a few bits here from the blogosphere. First of all, several bloggers have taken us up on our offer to interview the authors. From Guy Kawasaki's interview with me:

Question: Many experts cite Dell Hell, Comcast rep sleeping, etc. as cataclysmic occurrences, but Dell Hell didn't cause Dell's issues, and Dell is substantially back. Comcast is still around, and it gives me 25 megabit Internet access in my house.

Answer: Dell Hell was actually a wakeup call -- Dell is substantially back in part because it has learned to listen better to its customers. They should thank Jeff Jarvis for waking them up. As for Comcast, it's paying millions to run commercials about how Comcastic it is, but if you go to YouTube and search Comcast the first result is the sleeping technician. In part, those commercials are paying to undo that YouTube video.

From Lee Odden's interview with Charlene:

Question: Clever and nimble companies that have successfully leveraged the internet and marketing online have become formidable alternatives to larger, legacy competitors. It would seem that those companies that can best adapt to and engage social technologies like blogging, reviews, social networking and media will gain even more of an advantage. What advice do you have for companies with a “wait and see” perspective?

Answer: Don’t wait too long! Some companies think that they can wait until the technology is “proven” or when it becomes “safer” to engage. They want ample “proof” that these technologies work and that there is a proven ROI associated with these efforts. I think it’s a cop out, a way to dismiss these technologies as experimental and early, rather than taking a closer, deeper look to understand the power they bring Adapting these new technologies is really, really hard work, so any company that does have a “wait and see” attitude is going to behind the curve in another year or two.

We'd love to do more of these! You ask very good questions.

Our reviews have been overwhelmingly, embarrassingly positive, including five 5-star reviews on Amazon. (If you've ready the book and you like it, write us a review!) Our simple advice to get good reviews: write a good book, then encourage people who read it to review it. To Larry Weber, who wrote in his review that we were late to the party, I'd respond that we seem to be in time to help an awful lot of people who are calling us from companies all over the place.

We keep a running feed on reviews from the blogosphere. Here are a few of my favorites (I've tried to pick the most interesting, not just the nice stuff they said). Bloggers -- if I haven't included yours, we noticed you, just don't have room for everybody. And if you've read the book but haven't written a review, there is certainly room for opinions!

Customers Rock: I agree with Charlene and Josh - the most important part of engaging in the groundswell is setting objectives.  There are too many companies out there trying to “do social media” just because their competitors are doing it.  Groundswell will help your company take the right perspective and set the right priorities.

FaceReviews: This might prove an eye opening read for people that think social technologies are a fad. It will be an eye opening whack on the side of the head moment for many people that think that these social technologies will not/ can not impact their business.

Whatsnextblog: If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I don't gush. Rant yes, gush no. But I'm gushing about Groundswell. Order it now, today. Get out your magic marker and your sticky notes, and go sit in a corner and read this book. [OK, that's just flat-out praise, but how could resist.]

Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog: Over and over, Li and Bernoff emphasize the need, when using these technologies, to listen, and not to shout. To be transparent, and to be authentic. Whether this is possible with traditional companies, in which desiring to control the message is deeply ingrained, remains to be seen.

Inside the Marketer's Studio: Forrester Research's Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff is the best book on social media I've ever read, and it may be the best book ever written on the subject. . . . Is the book perfect? Not quite. My biggest complaint is that it doesn't dive deep enough into what goes wrong and how some campaigns could have been better.  [We tired hard to get more of those failures into the book, but people really don't want to talk about them!]

Finally, for those of you that are more audio-visually oriented, here's a podcast interview with Charlene from Nick O'Neill of Social Times and a video of both of us, at Forrester's Marketing Forum, with Rodney Rumford.


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