Groundswell technology comes to consumers first. At home, we get social, mobile, video, and cloud services pitched to us 24x7. Facebook, Android, iPad, Foursquare, Google, YouTube, Office Web Apps, Twitter. The list is endless and growing every single day. Empowering technologies like these will always come to consumers first. Why? Because it's a wide-open market. A single developer can build an application that changes the world from their broadband-connected bedroom.
All this technology puts tremendous power directly into the hands of your customers. Your customers often have more information than your sales team — or medical staff — does. They can also whack your brand from their smartphone, with video even, while waiting impatiently in line. They can get a recommendation from someone in their business network while listening to your pitch. Customers are empowered by information and connections. You'd better make sure you give customers better information than they can get elsewhere.
The only way to do that is to empower your employees to directly engage the needs and expectations of empowered customers. Only empowered employees can solve the problems of empowered customers.
Fortunately, your employees are not standing still. People are problem solvers. Left alone, your innovative employees (we call them HEROes — highly empowered and resourceful operatives) are building new solutions using these same groundswell technologies — and many others besides — to solve customer problems.
In fact, 37% of US information workers — employees that use computers for work — use do-it-yourself technology to get work done. Personal mobile devices. Unsanctioned Web sites like Skype or Google Docs or LinkedIn or Smartsheet.com. Unsanctioned software downloaded to a work computer.
Each year we conduct a search for the best examples of social media/social communities as part of our search for winners of the prestigious Forrester Groundswell Awards. This year we have added a new category of award aimed at internal communities designed to help management with innovation and/or collaboration across the organization — communities that empower employees.
In the fall I’ll be helping my colleague, Ted Schadler — co-author of the upcoming book Empowered — to judge the winners of the management category. So if you have a social community or social media success story please consider nominating your firm for one or more categories in this year’s awards.
As a Forrester analyst I get to work with a fantastic team of researchers – including Tom Cummings, who contributes some great work to our research on social media marketing and a wide range of other topics. Below, Tom discusses a piece of research we collaborated on, covering how marketers are using Twitter:
I've spent the last year living and working in Vancouver, Canada -- speaking with many Canadian interactive marketers and agencies, and collecting survey data on Canadian consumers -- so I'm pleased to say that yesterday we released a new report, Canadian Social Technographics Revealed, and added our latest Canadian data to our free Social Technographics Profile Tool.
Marketers don't think they're very good at measuring social media.
When my colleague Emily Riley asked marketers to
rate their ability to measure the impact of their social media
initiatives, the average grade they gave themselves was 4.5 out of 10.
Not a great score -- especially given that accountability is one of the
key selling points of interactive marketing. So I've spent a lot of
time this year trying to understand why marketers aren't good at
measuring social media -- and how they can do better.
Chances are you've seen an online video contest lately. In fact,
you've probably seen a lot of them: more than 20% of interactive
marketers -- including category leaders like P&G, Nike, Coca-Cola
and Sony -- tell Forrester they've run campaigns asking users to submit
online content in the past year. I've been collecting a list of dozens
of great video contests, and one contest clearinghouse site says there are 115 user-generated video contests accepting submissions right now, across a huge range of categories.
Last week, Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst on the Interactive Marketing team that I manage, caught flak for comments that he made on his personal blog about the community vendor Mzinga. As you might expect, we both have been communicating with Mzinga's Chairman Barry Libert and other members of his team. At the same time, Jeremiah has been reflecting on the conversation begun by the post. So have I.
On Friday, Forrester published new research on one of the most active groups of people ever seen when it comes to social participation -- buyers of technology products in the business-to-business (B2B) sector.
I teamed up with Oliver Young to write the report, "The Social Technographics of Business Buyers," based on a survey conducted online between December 2008 and January 2009; you can access the full report if you're a Forrester client, or arrange to buy it if you are not. You can also register to download the slides or hear the replay of our Webinar on the topic.