Old is the new New

Posted by on Sep 2, 2008 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Just finished the Forrester book and stewing on my reactions.

I'll be honest, I'm conflicted. Some of it I liked and other bits less so.

(FYI I don't like to slag things off on this or any other blog because

1. a lot of effort goes into writing a book like this (I should know) and this in itself should be encouraged and admired
2. a negative comment is easy to give but always looks much worse when it's down in print (particularly to a vanity-searching author)

And there are some proper things to be admired here (the practical to-do list style, the insistence on working out what problem you want to solve before you reach for the social-media gun and the authors' temerity to suggest that Apple might have something to learn rather than assuming they know everything); a lot of it is however rather too familiar for anyone who's been awake in the last half decade or so.

But my abiding thought is not about the book itself but what this line of argument represents.

For all the useful cataloguing of social media and how and when to use them, isn't what this book (and so many others like it) advocating really just good marketing?

Stuff like listening to your customers and then acting upon what you hear, getting really close to what matters to them, developing things with them in mind rather than your organisation? Oh, and doing stuff not just talking about it?

Isn't the the Groundswell just today's set of solutions for the problems that big business has got itself into with its focus on scale and its greed in focussing on shareholder interests alone? 

Technologies come and go (I think Douglas Adams once suggested that there are 3 kinds of technology: natural stuff that we see around between birth and teens; technology, the stuff that appears between teens and your thirtieth birthday (or thereabouts); and, unnatural stuff – everything that comes after that) and the technologies described in the book are already evolving.

But these kinds of underlying ideas seem pretty important and unchanging. Get close. No, get really close. Make it matter to your customers. It's about them and their social interaction, not about you. How can you make things better for them in their world. Use whatever tools you can. Try stuff. See what works. etc etc.

The fact that these are wrapped in groovy new technologies seems kinda irrelevant, doesn't it?

And the fact that the problems to which these solutions are posed are the same old, same old is interesting, too

Or have I missed something?


  1. Sebastian Franck
    September 5, 2008

    Methink you rarely miss anything – and definitely not this time. It IS the basic stuff that counts. But that’s also what’s so difficult, apparently.
    Technology is supposed to make it easier. Sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t make us forget instead. If that’s the case, Josh and Charlene’s book, is very timely indeed, as a reminder that even in a “technological groundswell” you shouldn’t sweat the basics of good marketing.

  2. Holycow
    September 6, 2008

    Mark – important point, as always. I seem to remember it was Dr. Johnson (or similar) pointing out that man tends to see the world through the eyes of his profession. But of course the basics of success/failure are dependent on human heuristics that transcend physical/mental constructs. You have mentioned them in your article so no point in repeating. Pity that every company I have ever studied/worked for/advised ignores them.