{Bookworm Reviews} “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies”

Image by Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved 2009.

By: Kasey Skala, guest blogger

I’m hesitant when it comes to books about social media.

Unless it’s a historic look at past technology, how can you write a book about something that is constantly evolving? I could write a book today, and come next month, it probably would be a little outdated. So, I approached a top “innovator” within my company about recommended reading material relating to social media and emerging technologies. The first recommendation: Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.

Despite my skepticism, I picked the book up and started reading. In the end, I was pleasantly pleased with the novel.  I’d say I’m in the middle stages of my adoption with social media. While, I’m not a novice, yet I’m not an advanced thought leader.

I know the medium; I practice the medium; I’ve found success on a personal and profession level with the medium.

With that in mind, I didn’t want to read a book that tried to explain what social media is, what the tools are, etc. I understand all that. And that is exactly why I found Groundswell to be so informative and useful. It focused on the ‘why’ and ‘how’, rather than the ‘what’.

The two aspects of this book that I found most useful were the case studies and the data. Li and Bernoff are industry leaders at Forrester Research, so I expected some concrete data to be present. It broke down data based upon country (United States, South Korea, Japan, etc.) and provided usage trends, data regarding which country was more “creators” than “joiners” and other useful information that gave you a global feel of what’s happening with social media in the business world.

Additionally, it provided case studies from companies such as Dell, Mini, Intel and Procter and Gamble. A case study about Digg is my personal favorite.

  • How are these tools helping real companies?
  • How are organizations using social media and what have been the early results?

This is valuable information a reader can apply to their use and implementation.

There are two versions of this book- the original that was published in 2006 and a version that’s been updated since Twitter hit the Web. I went with the original as I have a firm grasp of Twitter and wanted more nuts & bolts.

If you are newer to the social media scene, this book is ideal for you.

Again, it focuses on strategy and how social media can impact businesses, rather than an outline on what social media is and isn’t. While the book isn’t meant to be a beginner’s guide, certain parts of the book did seem pretty basic/novice; but overall, this book is a must for social enthusiasts.

Final verdict: Must read | 4.5 of 5 stars.





Kasey Skala is “the most awesomeness person in the world. He can leap tall buildings, walk on water and never had to rest on the seventh day!” Well, that and he has his B.A from Drake University in Public Relations and is a current Master’s candidate at the University of St. Thomas. His expeirence includes work in finance, non-profit work, promotions and he is a former sports journalist. He also runs the Electric Waffle on public relations and social media.