Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Book Club Starting: Groundswell

A few weeks ago, I participated in a Reach Advisors "museum conversation" with Web 2.0 expert Charlene Li, who is promoting her new book, Groundswell. I had not yet read the book but was mightily impressed by her references to its social profiles of different industries, ROI breakdowns for Web 2.0 strategies, and copious business anecdotes and examples. I got the book. I fell in love.

Groundswell is the clearest introduction to social media strategy I've ever read. Rather than focusing on technologies, Charlene and co-author Josh Bernoff focus on relationships--between businesses and customers, businesses and suppliers, and staff with staff. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a big picture for how to evaluate and plan a social media policy for their institution. The examples are primarily focused on large businesses with budgets much higher than those of museums, but the lessons learned are highly transferrable.

Charlene and Josh recommend a four-stage approach to engaging with the groundswell:

  1. profile your target audience's current use of social media
  2. determine your institutional objectives
  3. develop a strategy to meet your goals
  4. find the right technology to make it happen
The bulk of the book focuses of how this approach can be applied to each of five primary groundswell objectives as shown in the graphic to the right. Over the next five weeks (starting next Thursday), I’ll be leading a book club here on each of these five objectives and related strategies, posting each Thursday on my interpretation of each and opening things up for comment discussion. I encourage you to get the book, and add comments to this post if there are particular case studies or models you'd like to see examined.

I will not be covering the first four chapters of the book, which introduce social technologies, the four-stage approach, and the Forrester social technographics tool (previously introduced here). Instead, we'll be starting with the chapter on listening, taking a look at how monitoring visitor conversations across the Web and in private communities can improve your understanding of and communication with your audience.

And as a quick follow-up to the post earlier this week on walled gardens, I encourage you to check out the Groundswell website and how easy they made it for me as a blogger to take and reuse the images you see in this post. They also do something incredibly useful for readers: aggregate all of the footnotes and associated links in one place so you can click through them without having to type each link out. Of course, they're selling something, so they want to make it easy for me to get all of this stuff. But aren't we selling our exhibits and programs as well? Shouldn't we make it this easy to evangelize museum products?

4 comments, add yours!:

Anonymous said...

Not just products -- but scholarship!

Just think if the next exhibit you went to at a museum had a companion website of footnotes? With a link to an Amazon store?

Wouldn't it be awesome not just to curate, but to satiate an audience desire to know more? To be able to use an exhibit as a starting point for an audience to pursue more reading and scholarship?

Sure this is going to be the entire audience. It might even be just a small sliver? But microtargeting small groups or pieces of a larger audience is what the web does best. In part because the web lowers the cost of slicing and dicing the audience into such small target groups through easily deployable, off the shelf technologies.

Thanks for the tip on the book. I've read Geoff Livingstone's The Future is Gone, but Groundswell sounds like something I also must read.

David K said...

Groundswell seems to be the topic of conversation in many places these days! We were just discussing it in the offices of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum last week. Haven't gotten a copy yet, but now I almost certainly will.

As for me, I'm currently reading Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody" (check out his writings at It's very readable -- and as of Chapter 3, it is quite good.

Charlene Li said...

Thanks very much for the book plug! And I love the idea of the book club - the five "objectives" are at the core of the book.

And David, agreed that "Here Comes Everybody" is an absolutely fantastic book. My copy is heavily annotated, underlined, and dog eared! Clay's book and "Groundswell" are a good combo -- the "why" and the "how", respectively.

Documentaries said...

great book , it helped me to understand better the web