Harvard Business Review

The Groundswell Effect

The Groundswell Effect

Josh Bernoff, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, has risen in thirteen years to become one of America’s most frequently quoted research analysts. Josh’s analysis, which aims at a deeper understanding of people and how they use technology, has been cited by sources from The Wall St. Journal to “60 Minutes.”

Charlene Li is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. She is the driving force behind Forrester’s Social Computing and Web 2.0 research, examining how companies can use technologies like blogs, social networking, RSS, tagging, and widgets for marketing purposes.

  • Why Web 2.0 Is No Bubble: Corporations Are Willing to Pay for It

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    Everyone seems to want an answer to the question "When will Web 2.0 startups start making money?" The implication is that unless we can answer the question, the "bubble" of Web 2.0 will burst and all of us who believe in this stuff will be revealed as fantasists. The fact is, it's incredibly hard to make money as a Web 2.0 startup aimed at consumers. There are hundreds of these companies, and they all clamor... More »

  • Social Networks Around the World

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    There's a lot of speculation about social networks, and predictions usually go in one of two directions: This is growing and soon everybody will be on one (or more than one) This is a fad and even the college students will tire of it eventually. (You could also call these the "Facebook is worth $20 Billion" and "Facebook is worth nothing" factions.) To add fuel to the debate, this week's data chart, from Chapter 2... More »

  • Facebook Connect - Another Step to Open Social Networks

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    Facebook announced "Facebook Connect", which they position as the natural evolution of Facebook as an open platform, which started from their initial API in 2006 and expanded with Facebook Platform in May 2007. This is how they describe Facebook Connect: "Facebook Connect is the next iteration of Facebook Platform that allows users to "connect" their Facebook identity, friends and privacy to any site. This will now enable third party websites to implement and offer even... More »

  • Google Friend Connect -- Making Open Social Easy

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    Google announced Google Friend Connect. The idea behind Friend Connect is to give Web masters the tools to easily add social features to their sites. This is what Google announced: "With Google Friend Connect (see http://www.google.com/friendconnect following this evening's Campfire One), any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming -- picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration,... More »

  • Answers to Your Groundswell Questions

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    by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li Our Webinar was a big party -- over 700 people joined us! Of course, that made it difficult to answer all of your questions, but they were so interesting we've answered them all right here. Every question here came from someone who attended the Webinar. We learned an awful lot from your questions. In these answers, where we refer to a Forrester report, the executive summary is available to... More »

  • Free Webinar on Social Technology Strategy this Friday

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    by Charlene Li Josh and I will be doing a free webinar “Groundswell: A Framework For Using Web 2.0 For Business Advantage” on Friday, May 9th at 8am PT / 11am ET / 5pm CET. We'll be reviewing the core ideas laid out in our "Groundswell" book, going through the frameworks and strategies needed to approach and thrive in the groundswell. We hope you can join us -- and invite your colleagues if you... More »

  • How Consumer Reviews Build Trust in Your Brand

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    Today we look at some attitudinal data that's highlighted in Groundswell. Today's question is: whom do you trust? As you can see, 83% trust the word of a friend. But perhaps one of the more interesting points is that the number who trust consumer reviews by people they never met on a retailer's site (like eBags, the example in Groundswell) is 60%, only slightly lower than "a review by a known expert." Why do people... More »

  • Economies of Scale in a Personalized World

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    There’s a fundamental contradiction at the heart of groundswell strategy. We’ve told you that it’s a big error to treat everyone in the groundswell as if they were the same. That’s why we find the beehive metaphor inappropriate. People’s contributions are as different as they are. On the other hand, corporate development for the last 50 years, at least, has been an ongoing search for efficiency. Mass production means cranking out the same product a... More »

  • Analyzing Alpha Moms

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    We wanted to show how some clients are using the Social Technographics Profile in our book Groundswell to make decisions about their social applications using our data. We’re looking at Alpha Moms, a group that includes mothers with above-average incomes and a favorable attitudes towards technology. Their profile is shown below. (For an explanation of the categories, see Chapter 3 of Groundswell or this slide show.) The notable thing about the profile of Alpha Moms... More »

  • Why People Participate in Social Media

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    We continually get asked by our corporate clients: why do people participate in social activity online? What drives them? In Groundswell we tried to collect as many reasons as we could, to reflect the diversity that drives all this participation. In this post I'll list as many as I can. But this is just a start -- participation is as varied as the people who participate. Keeping up friendships. Facebook is about connecting with people... More »

  • How to Talk About the Competition

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    It’s a truism in the marketing world that you don’t, in general, talk about your competitors. The apotheosis of this was reached in those silly old soap commercials that compared the company’s product to “Brand X” which it beat hands down. As a consumer, your reaction was “who is this brand X? Of course you’re better than them – that could be anybody. Show me you’re better than the brand I actually use!” In the... More »

  • Ignite Your Company's Social Revolution

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    In my work, I often find that companies eager to create a social strategy often struggle with how to get started. One of the key recommendations we have in our book, Groundswell, is to find the spark, champion, and evangelist within the company -- the person who is most passionate about forming a relationship with your audience, be it customers or employees. You probably already know who this person is within your organization. It may... More »

  • How to Be a Social Media Provocateur

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    Does your company reject change? Of course not. You love change, don’t you. Change is good. That’s how companies grow. The bigger the company, the more a little change will do it some good. Baloney. You all know the truth. Companies are like organisms with immune systems. If you’re a change agent, you’re the antigen. Your company wants to reject you, and it’s got lots of systems to block that -- accounting systems, legal systems,... More »

  • The Meaning of AOL's Bebo Purchase

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    AOL announced that it would buy social networking site Bebo for $850 million. I have several points of view on what it means, and I've summarized some of the key ones below. Future direction of social networks. In many ways, I think this deal represents how social networks will develop in the future. That's because as a stand-alone social network, Bebo had no chance of competing against big boys like MySpace and Facebook. But as... More »

  • Buzzkill: What's Wrong with Comparing People to Bees

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    People are not insects. So why is it so popular, in analyzing the surge of social activity online, to compare them to bees? Here you see the covers of two recent books about social technologies, Barry Libert and Jon Spector's We Are Smarter Than Me and Larry Weber's Marketing to the Social Web. Both appear to be more hive than Web. It doesn't stop there. Online contributions are typically referred to, in the aggregate,... More »

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