Jelinas's Reviews > Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

Groundswell by Charlene Li
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Jan 08, 11

Read from November 04 to 10, 2010

I'm a writer. I'm not a techie. I'm not an entrepreneur. I'm just a girl who hates grammatical mistakes and improprer use of punctuation and enjoys snappy prose.

Well, Groundswell isn't written for people like me, but it was still an interesting read. Charlene Li does an excellent job of examining the ways in which companies and brands are able to build a groundswell of support for themselves on the internet.

What it really boils down to is listening to your online community and showing them that they matter to you. Your customers are your greatest resource for improving your product, and a disgruntled customer can quickly turn into your biggest fan (and a huge source of free advertising) if you quickly rectify the situation and show them that you actually care.

Come to think of it, Pajiba has done an excellent job of cultivating groundswell. When I first visited Pajiba, it was about a year old, and there were maybe fifty regular commenters and two regular features. Now, they have thousands of fans on Facebooks, hundreds of Eloquents who spend more time commenting than working at their jobs, and has a giant pool of willing writers who are willing to give of their free time to comb the internet for fun links, highlight the funniest comments of the week, and even run a ginormo book club .

I myself shoot out of my chair and do a happy dance on the rare occasions when I happen to make it to EE or get a CBR review featured on the site. It makes me feel like I'm being heard; that people care about my opinion and are willing to have civil conversations about it. It makes me feel like I'm part of a fun, witty, and urbane online community of nerds who, despite their affinity for the scathing, are fiercely loyal to one another and care deeply about each other (see Pink, Alabama).

Pajiba has always been good at fostering community. Way back when I was still relatively new to the site, I posted a comment on a thread about music that is inextricably linked to specific scenes in movies, and I mentioned the soundtrack to Billy Elliot. That day, I got a personal e-mail from The Rowles himself, telling me that he, too, loved that movie and was planning to do it justice at a later date (I'm still waiting on that, Rowles, and I doubt that Pajiba will come to an end on that day.

I knew right then that Pajiba was all about listening to its community. And the community has really taken on a life of its own. And it's because Pajiba has listened to its community that it's able to foster such a positive community. Also, much of the community members love the TV show "Community." That has nothing to do with this paragraph, but I'd used the word so much in this paragraph that I thought I'd throw it in there one more time.

The moral of the story? Watch "Parks and Recreation," y'all.
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