College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

Because Ideas Matter...

The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

Groundswell Large Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, Harvard Business Press 2008

Reviewed by Ed Kanis

Crafted by two leading research consultants, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies provides a detailed look at how companies and organizations are effectively employing social media.

Li and Bernoff, principals with Forrester Research, devote the early chapters of their book to discussing techniques for understanding the "groundswell," what they define as "the social trend in which people use technologies to get things they need from each other rather than from traditional institutions." Particularly instructive is their "Social Technographics Profile," a helpful tool organizations can use to categorize audiences based on their degree of immersion in social media - from the "creators" at the top rung of the ladder who publish their own blogs and web pages, to the "inactives" at the bottom for whom social media is uncharted territory.

The balance of the book is replete with examples of companies that have tapped into the groundswell. Among the more interesting are how Best Buy captures employees' insights and intelligence with its own social network, as well as the way a small South African winery uses bloggers, Facebook and YouTube to drive sales.

Li and Bernoff argue convincingly the groundswell is here to stay. Whatever your take on this phenomenon, the book is a worthwhile read.

- Ed Kanis is a lecturer in the Eugene S. Pulliam School of Journalism at Butler University.