Tapping the Groundswell: Groundswell, Ch. 1-3

This week, I have been reading the book by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff called Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. This week’s focus is concentrated on the first section of the book: understanding groundswell. This section is covered in chapters 1-3.

Chapter 1- why the groundswell-and why now?

Chapter 2- jujitsu and the technologies of the groundswell

Chapter 3- the social technographics profile

The driving force behind the internet is connecting people with people. It’s a phenomenon that has spread increasingly fast over the past decade. … These sentences are the underpinning ideas in which the groundswell concept was founded upon. The groundswell is defined by Forrester Research as  “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other rather than from traditional institutions like corporations,” (Li and Bernoff, 2008,p.9). Loosely summed up… the groundswell is the modern way of protesting, talking to your neighbor, and having a party all at one time. It boils down to the fact that masses of people are grouping together to either find information or to protest for or against something on the internet. This is changing the very nature in which public relations practitioner’s are communicating with their publics. It’s allowing for a mass of people to be reached at one time.

Li and Bernoff stated that “the groundswell has two key ingredients: technology and people,” (p.37).  Technologies are forever changing and we as PR practitioners must be knowledgeable and readily acceptable of these trends. For example, 30 years ago most people would have never imagined the concept of social media sites, but because of technological advances in the last decade or so there is a new way of communicating. Because of the ever changing nature of technology, “concentration on the relationships, not the technologies” is explained as a key component to understanding how to use the groundswell, (Li and Bernoff, 2008, p.18).  Li and Bernoff give us a way to group people according to their use of the groundswell…

  • Creators
  • Critics
  • Collectors
  • Joiners
  • Spectators
  • Inactives

It’s how we go about reaching people as the PR practitioner that matters.

“The biggest challenges in the groundswell isn’t weather you master the technology or whether you annoy or delight your customers. It’s whether you’re accomplishing a useful business goal and, on top of that, how you’ll measure that success and then prove that the groundswell effort was worth it,” (Li and Bernoff, 2008, p. 62)


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