Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (Book Review)

Groundswell is a really great survey book about the importance of social media for business. Here, the authors interpret social media as the groundswell, "a spontaneous movement of people using online tools to connect, take charge of their experience, and get what they need -- information, support, ideas, products, and bargaining power -- from each other."

The book is well-structured and begins at a high-level, defining the groundswell and why it's vital for businesses today. Next, the authors include case studies and go through various strategies for tapping into the groundswell. The final section includes tactical examples detailing how to implement social media initiatives and gain buy-in throughout an organization.

As you read the book, it's easy to tell that Groundswell pulls together a ton of relevant information, and the authors did an excellent job of leveraging data from their parent organization (Forrester Research) and gathering new information though many in-person, telephone, and email interviews.

I'd rank Groundswell as one of the best books that's been written to date about social media. Along with Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, it's the most useful text on the subject I've read.

As a final aside, it's worth noting and fitting that in my case I was compelled to read Groundswell after hearing about it, well, within the groundswell. Those who are familiar with LinkedIn know that the popular social networking site for professionals allows you to join Groups which feature Discussions. A few months ago I joined the LinkedIn Group Social Media Marketing, and, shortly after joining, I quickly noticed an active discussion entitled "What is your favorite book on the subject of Social Media Marketing?"

As of this writing, this discussion has generated 369 comments, with lots of great suggestions and back and forth. I haven't done a tally, but my sense is that Groundswell has received the most recommendations from people who have responded to this thread.

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