Forrester’s Josh Bernoff, co-author of the book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies with his colleague Charlene Li, posted a good thought piece on the Groundswell blog today. He takes a stab at creating a purist-corporatist scale.
Visit his blog for the full scale, but I want to draw attention to the middle of it:
7 = The groundswell is powerful, but companies have a role in it. Groups of people inside of enterprises can get together and make themselves heard. Even so, the groundswell will always prevail over their interests.
5 = Companies belong in the groundswell. They have interests just as the people do. They will set up corporate efforts — presences in places like Facebook or their own corporate blogs — and connect with their customers. They can’t shut down or co-opt people in the groundswell, but they can form meaningful relationships with them. And they can accomplish goals like marketing or collaborative innovation, if they respect that they’re not in charge.
As I commented on the blog, I’m probably a 6, but I’m not convinced that 5 and 7 are mutually exclusive, as I identify with both. I think companies can build relationships with the groundswell just as in general people have emotional attachments with their favorite brands. Yet I also think the groundswell will prevail when it’s able to properly harness its energy.
How do you see yourself in all of this?