Sunday, February 6, 2011

Social Trends in a New Realm

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and I can already count nine Facebook statuses that in someway mention this phenomena. I thought the Super Bowl would be an interactive way of explaining how the Groundswell Effect comes into play in everyday circumstances. The Groundswell Effect describes "A social change in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations" (Li, Bernoff 9). In a nutshell, I took the Groundswell to be the exchange of information that takes place between people through the Internet. The most pertinent part of this is that word on the Internet can travel so quickly that it is impossible to control. Referencing back to the Super Bowl, this effect is bound to take place. As soon as the winner comes out it is going to be everywhere and people with no interest in football are inevitably going to be exposed to the results. Social networking sites play a heavy role in this because sites like Facebook and Twitter are convenient and accessible for people to update and produce information that will be exposed on the web. The Groundswell puts the power of imaging and communication into the hands of the community rather than PR professionals which makes it necessary for them to work differently. Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell, explains how this might be achieved through starting a community

Josh Bernoff of Forrester on Groundswell
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People collaborating both actively and passively greatly contribute to the Groundswell. Those that create, comment, and read all play vital roles in the efficiency of the Groundswell. People use the Internet as a medium for communication and in order for a message to be heard (or in this case read) and in order for that to happen people need to understand how to use the technologies. For instance, my dad has a Facebook that was set up by an employee for him and a few weeks ago I went to his page to find that he had responded to someones comment with "I don't understand how other people can change your page". By this you can see he doesn't understand how Facebook works because in his opinion someone commenting on his page was throwing him out of control of his own page. Understanding the technologies is essential and this also applies towards PR firms who need to work with the Groundswell rather than staying stagnate in old ways of communicating image. GM along with many other companies have created blogs to aide them in forming a positive image for themselves by understanding and working with the Groundswell GM Blog.

Individuals are processing information that spreads across the web and companies must work with this in order to dispel any negative effects of the Groundswell and to magnify any good ones. Basically in this day in age as we watch the Internet and technologies involve the power of communication is more readily accessible to everyday people and we have a greater ability to shape the world around us.

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