How to Be a Social Media Change Agent

An interview with Josh Bernoff, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Over the past thirteen years, Mr. Bernoff has become one of America’s most frequently quoted research analysts. His analysis, which aims at a deeper understanding of people and how they use technology, has been cited by sources from The Wall St. Journal to “60 Minutes.”

He is the co-author of the book “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies,” which offers myriad data-based strategies for companies that want to harness the power of social technologies like blogs, social networks, and YouTube.

Important points made by Josh Bernoff in Groundswell

  • Social technologies – Any technologies where people connect with people online. I.e. blogs with their responses, wiki, social networking such as facebook, twitter, ratings and reviews. Any situation where it is drawing people’s strength from each together online.
  • Why should we care about social technologies? – There’s a huge trend going on where it’s a phenomenon of people connecting with each other and drawing strength from each other online. Organizations find this threatening. People take power onto themselves they take power away from organizations.
  • Does this affect everybody? – This really does affect everybody.  This phenomenon is spreading.


  • First thing is to start small. Company policies and procedures are all setup to function a normal way and connecting with people who are in control of their with own experience tends to be threatening to companies.The wrong way  to go about this is trying to transform things overnight. That really scares people and the result is you won’t get anywhere. Instead you want to pick a single brand or objective and start working on it ASAP. Its by generating success in a small way that you can expand those efforts to the rest of the company.


  • Somebody in a position in power – If someone in a powerful position within the organization supports you, then you will succeed. Josh uses Dell’s experience as an example in video.


  • The objective is try not to sneak this up because there will be other parts of the companies that will object.  The right strategy is to go to them ahead of time and get somebody from those departments involved in this project and we’ll make sure we respect your rules and then you maybe end up making some adjustments in the beginning that allow you to come to some sort of resolution and not end up having that face-down or shut down in that type of environment.


  • Tip #1: You have to listen an observe but its better to start and react than to put in place a plan that took 12 months.
  • Tip #2: You have to seek precedence.


  • Take advantage of the dialoague. Your friends are going to be other people trying to do the same thing you are doing in other companies. Find Social Media Clubs in your area and understands what you’re doing.


  • You have to be able to put figures or show conversions to ensure you are fulfilling the business objectives.

I’m sure you’ll be able to apply the same techniques in your local council.

Hope this was useful! And if you’re inspired, why don’t YOU become a social media change agent in your local council? 😉

Liz xxx

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