Groundswell Book Review

April 29, 2008

I have been waiting patiently for the publication of Groundswell since last Spring when we first talked to Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff about including some work MotiveQuest had done for MINI USA.

Being a skeptic and a bit of a know-it-all, I approach business books with a grain of salt. What could Josh and Charlene possibly tell me that I don’t already know? Well, a lot. I am humbled by the display of knowledge, experience and examples (not to mention writing and editing) on display in this book.

My foundation in social computing goes back to the Cluetrain Manifesto (Happy 10th Birthday Cluetrain!) which is heavy on philosophy – and light on action and examples. Groundswell is the long awaited how-to manual for the post-Cluetrain world. I like this book so much I went out and bought 60 copies to share with clients and friends. I think anyone working in advertising, marketing or consulting that has responsibility for social media should read this book.

I talk to agencies and clients every day, and there is little disagreement that the social computing revolution has fundamentally changed business. Everyone agrees that social computing has upset the communications apple cart, and thrown power back to the people. The big question, however, remains. What the heck do we do now? Read Groundswell.

I got a better understanding of the whole range of things companies can/should do under the heading of social media. I work mostly on the listening side of the equation (Listen, Talk, Energize, Support, Embrace) and Groundswell helped me better understand the other parts of the social media landscape. It will also help me articulate to clients and prospects why Listening is the first step, and help them make sense of it all.

What I liked best? They tell stories. Stories with real people – and for me this has the most impact. Groundswell on social computing is like Walt Mossberg on computers. They make it real, accessible and actionable for people facing real challenges.

It is all too easy to get sucked in by siren song of technology and widgets in the social computing revolution – but Groundswell wisely avoid this trap and focuses on the “social” aspect instead of the “computing” aspect. This is what makes Groundswell compelling – it’s not about the technology, but about the people.

I give it a 9/10 for relevance, usefulness and readability!

<shameless plug begin> MotiveQuest does Online Anthropology – we collect all the online conversations about a topic, and then study and analyze them to build a model of how that community works. This includes the underlying motivations and drivers as well as competitive and category dynamics. To see an example of our work in action – please go straight to page 89 for Groundswell. <shameless plug end>



Cammie Dunaway gets it; Wii Fit

April 24, 2008

From yesterday’s WSJ article on the Wii Fit you can decode the success of Nintendo.

  1. They are not “fighting” over hardcore gamers. They are bringing all kinds of new people into console gaming (See Wii Fit). While Xbox and PS3 fight over the hardcore gamers, Nintendo sells to everyone else.
  2. When asked why the campaign for the Wii Fit (from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) wasn’t the typical glitzy videogame/console campaign, here is her answer:

    “What we see is consumers are increasingly turning to friends, family and news articles about credible sources of information about products, more so than in the past.”

Amen to that – and guess what? Many of those friends they are turning to happen to be in the same online communities as they are – and they may never have met FTF.

Final delicious irony? The article was paired with one titled:

Sony Again Delays Its PS3 Virtual Community


Fred does “Fix You” by Coldplay

April 23, 2008

I saw Young@Heart over the weekend – and can’t get this beautiful and haunting performance of “Fix You” by Fred Knittle out of my mind. This movie is a great experience for anyone – go see it.

Young@Heart sing ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay


We are somebody!

April 23, 2008

Just reading my copy of Groundswell – by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li. Delighted to see the MotiveQuest and MINI USA case study on listening through brand monitoring on page 89. I couldn’t help but think of the scene from the Steve Martin Classic – The Jerk. Navin Johnson is living at the gas station – and his name is printed in the phone book. He runs out in joy yelling “I am somebody, I am somebody”.

I’ll be posting a review shortly – but for now – just enjoying the shout out!


Why mass media is broken (kids today . . .)

April 22, 2008

I’m a little late to this one – but this is a great video from Mike Wesch a Professor of Digital Ethnography at Kansas State University. (Hat Tip to the lovely MK!)

Watch it if you really want to understand what is going on with media consumption. (Not to mention your teenager or college student!)

A Vision of Students Today


MySpace Profile Mining

April 17, 2008

I just glanced through an interesting paper from the ICWSM conference that shows data on a sample of 1.9 MM MySpace profiles. In it Steve Webb and James Caverlee study the characteristics of participants by analyzing almost 2 MM profiles.

Fascinating stuff – I’ll reproduce two charts on linguistics here to get you interested –

Enjoy – TO’B

Agencies get connected

April 15, 2008

Interesting commentary from Peter Kim about how Agencies can get connected.

Being Peter Kim: An Agency’s First Step To Getting “Connected”

I was visiting an agency recently for a capabilities presentation, and had about 25 people in the room. I decided to conduct a survey before getting started. (My firm – MotiveQuest – does online anthropology – analyzing millions of online conversations in a particular domain to uncover hidden motivation & drivers & competitive dynamics.)

So before starting, I surveyed the room – asking by a show of hands how many had:

  • LinkedIn Profile (14)
  • MySpace or Facebook Page (15 – the same ones)
  • Twitter – 3
  • Blog – 3
  • Participated in a community forum for more than a year – 2

This is not to criticize, but I think that it is really hard to understand both the value of this type or research and advise clients on what to do without a solid understanding of the space. And this understanding needs to be wide and deep if an agency is going to succeed in development, execution and measurement of digital marketing.

We still have a ways to go.