Nordic Track Book Club Review: Groundswell

I was excited when Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies from Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester, Inc, arrived from Amazon a few days ago.  I made sure it was placed at the top of my [NordicTrack] Must Read stack.  The book was written for corporate executives to show them how to use the emerging world of online social technologies, the Groundswell. 

Unfortunately, the book was a big disappointment for me. For Corporate Execs who don’t have a clue this is probably a useful guide, but for those of us who’ve been living these online social technologies there’s not much here.  You can skip this one.  2 out of 5 stars.


p.12 If you have a brand you’re under threat.  Your customers have always had an idea about what your brand signifies, an idea that may vary from the image you are projecting.  Now they’re talking to each other about that idea.  They are redefining for themselves the brand you spent millions or hundreds of millions of dollars creating.

p.18 Here’s the principle for mastering the groundswell.  Concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies.

p.30 By looking at not only how your company is tagged, but also who is tagging it you can learn a lot about how people perceive you. There is no rule against tagging your own content.

While subscribing to an RSS feed isn’t by itself a social activity, it enables social activity to happen efficiently.

p.36 When evaluating a new technology, ask yourself the following.  Does it enable people to connect with each other in new ways? Is it effortless to sign up for? Does it shift power from institutions to people? Does the community generate enough content to sustain itself? Is it an open platform that invites partnerships?

p.67 An acronym for the 4-step planning process to build your groundswell strategy:  POST.  People, objectives, strategy, technology.

Your strategy should be designed from the start to focus on a primary objective and it is progress toward that objective that you should measure.

p.72 Be ready to revise your plan every 6 to 12 months.

p.88 It pays to have your own community on call for insights.

p.108 Create a presence that encourages interaction.

p.115 Your readers are people, even in a business-to-business setting, and they want to connect with another person.

A pre-requisite for starting a blog is to want to engage in dialog with your customers.

p.123 Communities are cheap to create, but to create an effective community you must constantly support and maintain it.

p.172 Support communities need activity.  Few will go to a forum that’s not buzzing with activity.  Activity creates content which creates traffic and links, which boosts search engine placement, which drives more traffic, and so on.


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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.