25 Oct 09

First off, I believe this book is well intentioned for corporate folks who have large organizations begging them to understand what this “whole social media thing” is all about.  It’s very appealing to this audience for a few reasons.  1) The methodical approach to much of the first 2/3 of the book are getting folks to understand the statistical value of target markets relating to technology, referred to as “Technographics”.  This approach could be very helpful to folks who need statistics to prove anything to someone else.  2) Lots of large companies are used in the Case Study examples.  Again, I believe this approach gives anyone who works in what they believe is a “stodgy corporate environment” hope that their organization too can overcome the fears of innovation.

My biggest concern about this book is that it really seems more as a sales pitch for consulting company where the authors work, Forrester Research.  This really puts me off, but alas, there were lots of gems gleaned in these pages.

This book couldn’t be further opposite of “Trust Agents” if it tried.  They only really have one thing in common and that is “people connect to people”.  I repeat, “People connect to People!”

Although I like the idea that they have a winning step by step approach for entering the Groundswell (the large uprising of customers voicing opinions and blogs about you online where you have no control), but I also worry that issuing a step by step approach to a crowd who are likely reading this book because they don’t know where to start, is like telling someone how to build a watch when they ask for the time.

The one missing message of this book was “just try it”.  Especially if you are in a much smaller environment (and I’ll bet you are) than the examples of companies given in the book.  In the legal administrator ranks we have a term called “Paralysis by Analysis” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.  People and companies will continue to put off the inevitable by over analyzing the circumstances or waiting for one more example of what can go wrong.

I don’t believe this book gives you everything you need to start a complex groundswell engagement if you’re a large company, but after all now you know that Forrester Research has the capacity and technical skills to help you over analyze the situation of your customer base and determine exactly what direction you need to go in.

I found it absurd to state things like, “This solution only cost the company $280,000 to start and maintenance is only $25,000 per month.”  Statements like that help me fully understand that Forrester is targeting much larger fish than me or my firm!  LOL

Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book, but just having finished Trust Agents (a very feel-good and personal book), the writing style and approach from a corporate formula approach just hit me wrong.

I think it was mis-titled.  Should have been “Groundswell: How your Fortune 500 Company will be Transformed by Social Technologies

(This was my second Kindle book completed, but this one I started and finished on my new International Kindle 2! Much nicer to read on!)


Filed under: Management,Social Media,Twitter

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  • http://twittermaven.blogspot.com warrenss

    Richard,

    I appreciate your perspective and in general I agree with several of your points. However, it should be pointed out that the book was published over a year ago (April 2008), so comparing it to social media today or recent books probably isn't fair. Yes, Forrester is a consulting firm that focuses on large companies, so it should be no surprise that Groundswell is pitched at that audience. Furthermore, the CXO's of large companies are interested in methodologies, frameworks, numbers and ROI. Clearly, Bernoff and Li don't disappoint here. However, frameworks like POST and Social Technographics can be very helpful to companies large and small. And the methodology around ROI will help anyone to justify a social media project. As I said in my Amazon review in April 2008,
    Buying this book will be like getting Forrester's expert advice for just $20, an investment sure to pay off for anyone.

  • http://legaladmin.info Richard

    Thanks for your input Warren. Personally, I don't think publication date affected the content. I doubt they would approach the book much differently if they wrote it today. Also, I wasn't attempting to draw comparisons to the content of Trust Agents directly. The content of the two books is VERY different. For me, I enjoyed the relaxed transparency of Trust Agents writing style.

    I would love to see the authors of Groundswell write a book for the small business person. I think that would be fascinating!

    Again, thanks Warren! Look forward to seeing you soon.

  • http://www.MarketingUnhinged.com/ Yolanda

    Thanks for the great review. I just finished “Trust Agents” and considered picking up “Groundswell”. As a micro-business owner your take on it resonating more with big corporations has helped me decide to put it farther down on my reading list. I would have been disappointed had I picked it up without having read your perspective.

  • http://legaladmin.info Richard

    Thanks for the comment Yolanda! I really did enjoy Groundswell, but I did stumble a bit once I figured out how specific the intended audience was. That said, there's still a lot of great material in there.

  • http://legaladmin.info Richard

    Thanks for your input Warren. Personally, I don't think publication date affected the content. I doubt they would approach the book much differently if they wrote it today. Also, I wasn't attempting to draw comparisons to the content of Trust Agents directly. The content of the two books is VERY different. For me, I enjoyed the relaxed transparency of Trust Agents writing style.

    I would love to see the authors of Groundswell write a book for the small business person. I think that would be fascinating!

    Again, thanks Warren! Look forward to seeing you soon.

  • http://www.MarketingUnhinged.com/ Yolanda

    Thanks for the great review. I just finished “Trust Agents” and considered picking up “Groundswell”. As a micro-business owner your take on it resonating more with big corporations has helped me decide to put it farther down on my reading list. I would have been disappointed had I picked it up without having read your perspective.

  • http://legaladmin.info Richard

    Thanks for the comment Yolanda! I really did enjoy Groundswell, but I did stumble a bit once I figured out how specific the intended audience was. That said, there's still a lot of great material in there.

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