A new book, social media, awards and great case studies are on today’s menu. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Well, not so far back, let’s skip a couple of years:

Since 2004, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, two analysts on social media from the international research company Forrester, have been bus. Since 2004 the’ve been posting about social media and technology from a marketing perspective on the blog Groundswell.  This year they’ve written a book, which I have just ordered on amazon today.

Charlene and Josh are also handing out seven Groundswell Awards, rewarding excellent and effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational or corporate goal. And the categories are:

LISTENING. Find out what customers are really saying in order to understand them better.

TALKING. Spread messages about a company.

ENERGIZING. Get a company’s best customers to evangelize its products.

SUPPORTING. Help customers support each other to solve each other’s problems.

EMBRACING. Integrate customers into the way a business works, including using their help to design products and improve processes.

MANAGING. Empower employees and managers within an organization.

SOCIAL IMPACT. Improve society with non-commercial applications.

You can have a look at the nominees and winners here, but I’d like to present to of the winning cases here, Namely the winners of the first two categories.

The LISTENING is all about consumer insight. How do we listen to them to understand them better? The winner was Mattel’s The Playground Community by Communispace.

Mattel and Communispace created a private online community of 500 moms with kids aged 3—10 in June 2007, in order to help them listen to and gain insight into the lives and needs of moms to help drive growth and innovation. On August 2, Mattel had to recall 1 million chinese-made toys painted with lead-based paint, and less than two weeks later, on August 14, Mattel recalled 18 million products that contained strong magnets that may detach and cause serious damage when ingested.

What did Mattel do? During this crisis they turned to their Playground Community, who gave them the information they needed to develop relevant and meaningful messages for the market, in some periods having daily contact with their community-moms.

Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff explain their award choise:

“Despite several worldwide product recalls in 2007, Mattel reported fourth quarter 2007 sales had increased 6% over last year. […] Mattel’s listening strategy helped it to weather a difficult period and further solidified its relationship with moms as a brand that cares deeply about children and their families”

As marketing professionals we often try to come up with brilliant and engaging ways of spreading the message about our company and product, moving towards greater emphasis on below the line promotion.

A month ago I wrote a blog post about the challenges of promoting generic low-involvement products such as personal banking. The winner of the TALKING award is The Common Wealth Credit Union. A bank deeply rooted in Northern Alberta. Click at the picture below and take a look at this brilliant video. It’s 8 minutes long but it gives a genuine insight into the case, portraying how they suceeded in growing the number of new account openings  by 960% among 19-25 year olds compared to the same period a year prior:

This is social media marketing at its best. Really. Most importantly, it’s created extensive positive media coverage. I wonder if it would work in the banking industry in  Denmark. Could we communicate this way to 19-25 year-olds about banking?

I, for one, would like to congratulate The Common Wealth Credit Union on their alternative yet solid work. Larissa, last year’s winner,  got a nine-month contract. Now, Young & Free Alberta have just found next years spokesperson. Congratulation, Myles!