Home Book Reviews Charlene Li’s Groundswell

Charlene Li’s Groundswell

Groundswell - by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

Despite being the CEO of an internet-based education company, I have had difficulty in getting my hands around the discussions about Web 2.0 and social marketing. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies“, authored by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, may be the best text that I have read on the subject. The authors are partners at Forrester Research and provide 25 different examples of companies that have used relationship marketing, social networking, the internet, and various research tools to increase their customer satisfaction and either increase revenues or save costs. Their four step POST (people, objectives, strategy and technology) process for creating social marketing strategies is easier to remember for foundational purposes but important to consider implementing the technologies necessary. I enjoyed reviewing some of their charts that allow you to profile your customers regarding their critic/creator/joiner/spectator tendencies.

I read this book during a round-trip flight to the West Coast which is usually when I catch up on my sleep. I also sent emails to friends and colleagues recommending the book and took the initiative to subscribe to the Groundswell blog. I’ve even asked the gurus who maintain my website to add the same RSS or email subscription option. The book was great and I hope I learn a few things by subscribing to the blog as well.



Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.


  1. Thanks for turning me onto this book and organization. I, too, have been reading their blogs and will be going to the Etail Conference in DC in August. It’s got me fired up to see how Kudda can take advantage of the social networks. Thanks

  2. Although I am sure Mr. Li has his followers, the current trend is away from innovation, both in the point of hardware and software, in favor of security and more reliability. An excellent book on the topic which was just release is :

    “The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it”
    by Jonathan Zittrain
    Published by Yale University Press New Haven and London

    Mr. Zittrain points out that the trend is towards machines, which he refers to as “appliances”, which cannot accept new software other than proprietary software approved by the manufacturer.

    Mr. Zittrain also deals with issues in his book which threaten our civil liberties and property rights, such as cell phones being able to be used as eves-dropping devices even when not in use, the government’s use of GPS automobile navagation devices such as Tom-Tom and Garman to track our movements, and the instance of a camcorder company who lost a lawsuit and sent a code to its products to self destruct.

    Since this is a new item, if your library does not have it it will not be available through inter-library loan for some months; however, since this is such a high profile book most do have it in stock.

    Mr. W.E.Sinkhorn

  3. This might just be an appropriate place to ask a question about the status of APUS courseware. I often wonder why the basic functions of blogs are not available in the classroom. For example, it would be great if students could leave comments on the announcements page. Also, if I could keep up with class developments through a simple RSS feed it would really save me time versus signing into class and clicking around on different links each of which may or may not have any updates. Are there any plans to add these functions?

  4. Michael:

    Thanks for the comment. There is no easy answer or response, so I will attempt to provide a few thoughts.

    1) The idea of replying back to a professor’s course announcement in the announcements area is creative. I’m not sure if there’s any LMS that can do this. That said, I’m not sure that the announcements area is where many professors would want to encourage a dialogue with their students.

    2) RSS notification feeds from events in classroom. That’s an even better idea. Once again, I’m not sure that any LMS allows for this, but I think it’s a really good idea. One issue that works against a quick implementation is that Federal Student Aid (FSA) requires participating institutions to take attendance in the classroom. If the students were given RSS feeds to notify them of classroom changes, they might not login to the classroom as frequently and could possibly be withdrawn from the class due to the attendance rules of FSA.

    3) Our LMS, Educator, does have a student notification feature although it’s not RSS. Believe it or not, we discontinued using it several years ago due to the number of students who requested messages sent to their cell phones and who then complained when they received messages from us AFTER they had exceeded their monthly text message limit.

    Your ideas are great and I hope that we can find ways to implement many of them over the next few years.



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