Finished reading Groundswell for the first time … again

Just finished reading the official Groundwell book poolside in the warm CA sun. I’ve actually read the book, but before it was even close to print, that version was slightly different and incomplete than the one on bookshelves today.

Before I started at Forrester, Charlene suggested I be one on the advance readers, she stopped by, handed me a spiral bound print out, and asked me to read it and provide my input. I read the book during my trip to Hong Kong, and marked the book up, some of my suggestions I hope were helpful, I do know that one of my examples made the book. The example about Scoble’s wiki not working well was my submission.

If you’ve read the book, you’ll realize it’s based on a solid methodology, case examples, and cites data from Technographics, this is a practical version of previous social media books. Which books in particular? Cluetrain, then Naked Conversations are really desktop references and preludes to this book, I recommend all of three of these.

This Thursday, I’ll be speaking at the 10 year anniversary of the Cluetrain event, Doc Searls to give the keynote at SAP in Palo Alto, hope to see you there. I was with Shel and Robert at their book launch party for Naked, and then started to learn under Shel, he taught me a great deal. Now, I’m working with the Groundswell authors, it’s an amazing adventure.

I’m somewhat biased being a Forrester employee and working with the Groundswell colleagues, but I’ll tell you what it’s missing: tactics. This book is a strategic framework, a real methodology that tells you the right way to approach social media. It doesn’t give you specifics on technologies, and how to use them, which of course would make the book have a very limited shelf life, so the tactics will be found on blogs, twitter, podcasts, that you, and you, and you, will write.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Groundswell book, what did you like and dislike? Will you apply the POST methodology at your workplace? What did your boss say?

Related note: If you have one of my latest business cards, turn it over for a mesmerizing effect.

6 Replies to “Finished reading Groundswell for the first time … again”

  1. Jeremiah, I think you are underselling the tactical benefits of Groundswell.
    The “People” part of the POST methodology is really really useful tactic.
    Early in Groundswell, they tell us about an unnamed company that was all exicted about social media technologies but hadn’t bothered with the “people” part yet. It wasn’t my company, but it could have been. We are now paying the price for that oversight – lower-than-expected usage of our social media tools. Someone at a conference I attended recently said the “crickets are chirping” at his new social media site – well, mine too. I think “People” part is what’s missing.
    Neither Charlene, Josh nor Jeremiah will say this on their blogs (maybe out of fear of seeming too commercial?), but Forrester does license their social media research tool for you to survey your own specific target markets. It wasn’t terribly expensive for us at all. We’re about ready to put it in the field, so I can’t tell you yet if it works, but does seem to be the smartest approach to the “cricket” problem that I have yet seen.

  2. Frank thanks

    I’m sure Josh and Charlene will hear your suggestions. I know of some other companies that are interested in deploying their own technographic survey, it makes complete sense.

    For what it’s worth, I was focused on tools too, while at Hitachi.

  3. I found this book to be spot on. Like others, we made and are making some of the mistakes mentioned but we have time to correct most of them. i bought copies for my team and our new CIO, who definitely gets it. as our audience is mid 40s and up, there are some people/tech challenges and I think that GROUNDSWELL will help.

    im about to start reading it for the second time as well.

  4. As you know, they explicitly say in the book that it’s meant to be a strategic level thing. Overall, I thought it was excellent and gave it a good review on Amazon. The main reason I think it’s good is that it’s backed by data and reasoning based on on real world experience. It’s not merely pontificating on the obvious or re-hashing others’ work as so much recently seems to do. Though there are shades of former ideas.

    If I have any criticisms at all, they are thus…

    * The POST method is reminiscent of very old ideas in communications models, dressed in modern livery. In Information Anxiety2, I think it was, Wurman describes just about any communication as an instruction. And there’s the ancient Shannon/Weaver model of sender/channel/receiver, etc. The thing is, modern variants of these account for Feedback. POST doesn’t inherently explicitly express this. Sure, it may be obvious enough, but even at a strategic level, an “E” for Evaluate should be tossed in there.

    * The Social Technographics ladder is just one lens into the behavior of a population. And even so, I wonder, how is the distribution changing? And if it is, at what rate? Technology changes what tools people use, but not necessarily their inherent behavior. That is, Lotka’s law has long described technical publishing behavior across a lot of fields. Do social media participants behave similarly? The technographics ladder seems to indicate so. And maybe it’s changing with the explosion of easy to get to technology. But is there an inherent natural limit? Businesses are going to be making investments in various things based on this kind of data.

    Wayne Gretsky said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” So I think Groundswell is a really well written description of the now. But why is the final chapter, “the future of the groundswell,” only 10 pages and at that, mostly anecdotal or creative fiction. I’m not sure if the snapshots provided can be taken as prescriptive, given the tactical decisions will – or should – depend on where the puck is 3/6/12/18 months from now. Again, I think it’s a really well done book. However, anyone making seriously large investments had best be thinking where the pucks going to be later.


  5. I’m still reading Groundswell, but it hadn’t occurred to me before as was mentioned in the beginning of the book that reading profiles of people who are social bookmarkers can help understand who is reading you. 🙂 It seemed so obvious since everyone says the same of Facebook, but it just became so much clearer.
    I would say too that the POST model is a great acronym, but it doesn’t explain everything. It’s too easy to get confused between strategy and technology. That is probably the factor that makes social media strategy so unique from other traditional marketing approaches.

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