Is social media about to revolutionize the way corporations communicate? Are they finally "getting it"? Should PR, marketing and advertising folks pack it up and start looking for new jobs? Not exactly, but the tidal wave is coming and everyone better get prepared, according to Charlene Li, the Forrester analyst turned book author who spoke last night in Palo Alto. She spoke at the monthly Third Thursday event, sponsored by the Society of New Communication Research and hosted by Voce Communications.
Her book is appropriately named Groundswell, which she describes as a "social trend" that is bubbling up across corporate America, changing the way they communicate with employees, shareholders, the media and everyone else. In a soft sort of way, she challenged everyone to get on top of this, and like the original American Revolution, she said we need more revolutionaries like Thomas Jefferson to bring this to fruition.
I don't completely buy into the idea that this is going to happen as fast as proponents like Ms. Li believe, and despite all the noise, I have a hard time comparing Mark Zuckerberg, the 22 year-old Facebook CEO, or anyone else, to our founding fathers in this deal. I've seen successful case studies, and been involved in a couple myself. But I've also seen many cases where it's not panning out as expected (with corporate blogs for instance), and communications managers are scrambling to salvage it. Much needs to be done to move this movement forward inside our companies. It may be happening but it's in fits and starts.
Still, I do believe this is the right direction and I came away impressed with Li's work in this area and enthusiasm. Any movement needs a few strong evangelists, and she's definately out there. I wanted to buy a book, but by then they'd all be snapped up by the 30 or so audience members (I ordered it on Amazon).
As I'm listening to her, it's clear that she's describing a new way of thinking.