Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies

•By: Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff
•Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
•RRP: $35.00

Getting baby boomers’ heads around both the applications and implications of social media and its facilitating technologies isn’t easy. I know because I am one of them.
My personal salvation arrived, in large measure anyhow, with the latest and expanded edition of Groundswell, book by couple of American researchers who work in this space.
Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, Forrester Research employees, penned the first edition of this book back in 2009. But life in the social technology lane clips along at such pace that they felt compelled to update. And the book’s value is enhanced by it.
For managers who have some trouble grappling with the implications of networking tools like blogs, podcasts, wikis, facebook, youtube, myspace, RSS feeds and others, this book is very helpful. And if marketing is your concern, then reading it is even more of an imperative.
Groundswell is the authors’ word for the social media phenomenon generated by the rapidly evolving plethora of social technologies. And, as they point out, the groundswell is becoming embedded within every activity on computers, mobile devices and the “real world”. It is social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional suppliers like companies.
Ubiquitous groundswell will, according to Li and Bernoff, connect people with the groups they care about. What that in turn means, is every manager’s company, services and products will be constantly rated and reviewed, talked about, criticised or praised without any input from the creator. While managers might not be able to do much about what dialogue goes on around them, they certainly need to understand the process and the rapidly escalating implications of it.
The authors provide some interesting and useful strategies for tapping this groundswell, so the book is more than an eloquent explanation of the trends and technologies behind all this. The profiles and accounts of deployment of the technologies bring level of accessibility to the table for the technologically challenged.
Even slow learners like me know that this groundswell is no flash-in-the pan trend. This is an “important, irreversible and completely different” way for people to “relate to companies and to each other”. Managers and leaders must get online with it. As highly relevant work tool, it rates very highly in my book.

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