8 Groundswell Examples: News, Education, Religion, Cops, Restaurants, Music, Conferences, and Analysts

While my focus is on social computing for the interactive marketer, as an objective researcher (I’ve no affiliations with any of these groups), I can’t but help but watch the parallels that are happening in other industries outside of marketing.

What’s a Groundswell? We define it as:

[A Groundswell as a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions]

I’m watching how examples of Groundswells are appearing (outside of my coverage area) on the web, and then impact the real world.

Eight Industries Impacted by Groundswells:

1) News: Where Readers Become the Editors
Digg.com is a social news site where the members submit URLs to news stories, and the community can vote them up. Although there’s some criticism of who is empowered within the group, the site sends massive amounts of traffic that can bring down servers.

2) Education: Students Rate Teachers
Perhaps one of my first Groundswell experience, Rate My Teacher has been around for some time, in fact, I used this while in college to find out which teachers were good, which were horrible, and which were easy. Students rate teachers, provide real time feedback, and in one case, even called out a teacher for doing unethical things at one school.

3) Religion: Opposing Groups Organize Against Church
This hotly debated topic came up on my radar when I noticed that a hidden entity called “Anonymous” continued to be featured on Digg.com. This is an anti-scientology group that stages videos on YouTube, and even a masked protest on the Ides of March (March 15th, today) You can see their photos on flickr. This group appears to organize and give orders via the web.

4) Law Enforcement: Citizens Rate Cops
Spurring a lot of news yesterday, this site Rate My Cop lets citizens review the experience they had with an officer, either good or bad. Yet some critics suggest this puts officers lives and families in danger.

5) Restaurants: Patrons Review Restaurants
This bay area company, Yelp, lets the patrons of restaurants rate restaurant food, service, and overall experience. I frequently use this before trying new restaurants or looking for new types of cuisine. Some savvy restaurants have signs on their door asking to be rated, it’s a new shift that puts formal restaurant reviewers in a slightly less relevant position.

6) Music Industry: Consumers Bypass Music Stores
As soon (or even before) a CD hits the shelves, it’s available for free in many file sharing services that have strong connections to cash strapped students and hubs in college dorms. These songs end up on MySpace profiles, or can even be found in file sharing services. Most music industry companies have fought them with legal action, and have made little progress. A few bands and artists are skipping the middle man and publishing songs directly on their websites.

7) Conferences: Audiences Assert Control
I covered what happened at SXSW, in summary, the audience asserted control at the conference, not at just the Zuckerberg keynote, but in three other occasions. Also learn about unconferences where the audience is in control to set the discussion topics, lead, and share.

8 ) Analyst Industry: Markets Can Self Help
I’d be truly ignorant if I didn’t put my own industry here. People come to analysts as they have answers, but people are connecting using social networks, blogs, an forums to communicate and answer problems, many of them are our clients. People want good answers to questions, and they will go to trusted sources to get them, analysts aren’t the only ones who can provide this. It’s safe to assume that the collective market has far more knowledge on social media than I do. This is certainly in my mind, an opportunity, and a threat if ignored.

A few years ago, people told me that Social Media was a fad, I think I’m going to forward them this post.

Where did I learn of the term Grounsdswell? When Charlene was recruiting me, she told me it was the name of her and Josh Bernoff’s upcoming book, Groundswell.