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Context Book Report: Groundswell

October 24, 2008

For this assignment, I read Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. The book was very interesting, and the authors had several points that could be applied to a library setting.

What is the groundswell? According to Li and Bernoff, “The groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.” They use examples like eBay, craigslist, and Rotten Tomatoes. At each of these sites, people can buy stuff, find a new apartment, or get movie ratings. They are proving that they don’t need corporations–they can get what they need from other people out there.

The book talks a lot about word of mouth, and how important it is to a company’s survival. If a customer likes your product, they’ll let people know. And chances are, if they don’t like the product, they’ll tell even more people. Social networking has made word of mouth marketing even more wide spread. Someone in the U.S. can tell someone halfway around the world about a favorite product!

The book is divided into three parts. Part One, Understanding the Groundswell, explains the groundswell phenomenon in greater detail. It talks about the technologies that contribute to the groundswell. Part Two, Tapping the Groundswell, talks about what companies can do about the groundswell. They discuss strategies for tapping into the groundswell, including listening to the groundswell, talking with the groundswell, energizing the groundswell, helping support the groundswell, and embracing the groundswell. Part Three, The Groundswell Transforms, discusses how connecting with the groundswell can transform a company, and how the groundswell can be used within the company.

So how does the groundswell apply to libraries, and how can libraries use the groundswell to their advantage? The first thing that comes to mind is word of mouth. Libraries should make sure that they are doing positive things that people will talk about and tell others about. The authors call this energizing the groundswell. Get people excited about what’s going on at the library and they will tell others. Find out what interests people and cater to those interests, whether it’s hosting a program, or getting a new material. This is listening to the groundswell. Another aspect that applies to libraries is talking to the groundswell. First, libraries must listen to people. After that, they can talk to people in the groundswell, through many different channels, like blogs, library websites, or social networking sites.

Overall, I really enjoyed Groundswell. It is an interesting point of view on social technologies and how they can be utilized in both the business world and libraries.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 1, 2008 2:05 pm

    You make excellent points about word of mouth as well as the greater transformation possible. I am glad you read this book. It will be useful for future projects!

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