Why Anyone Can Create a Successful Social Application

As These Case Studies Show, You Have No Excuses

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Josh Bernoff
Josh Bernoff
I just finished recognizing 13 highly effective social applications in the Forrester Groundswell Awards.

What hit me about this year's winners were that they prove that excellence in social media can come from anywhere.

The consumer and employee winners sell car races, yarn, security software, credit scores, books, and shipping. The B2B winners sell computer products, marketing services, online services, regulatory compliance services, environmental services and enterprise risk services.

The finalists came from a diverse set of industries including travel, education, retail, financial services, auto, media, wine, weight-loss help, insurance and steel manufacturing. Not to mention a product that lets women go the bathroom standing up.

The methods are diverse, too. The winners included online market-research communities, blogs, podcasts, a word-of-mouth campaign and online communities. Finalists used YouTube, widgets, avatars, idea communities, Facebook and online events. And a number of successful entrants created campaigns that spanned multiple social channels.

The geographic diversity wasn't as great, but one winner was from Australia and one finalist came from Brazil. In the past we've gotten some fantastic European entries.

Look, people, the message is this: Do not tell me you cannot do this. People in every country and in every industry, with all sorts of customers and all sorts of management and all sorts of objectives are creating not only innovative but incredibly effective social applications. I've worked with six insurance companies in the last two years. I just talked to a bunch of milk-processing executives ("got social?"). I have yet to find a company, an industry or a geography that can't benefit from connecting its customers with each other through social.

There are no excuses left. Just do it.

Josh Bernoff is co-author of "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies," a comprehensive analysis of corporate strategy for dealing with social technologies such as blogs, social networks and wikis, and is a VP-principal analyst at Forrester Research. He blogs at blogs.forrester.com/groundswell.
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