Connecting with the Groundswell to Transform your Company


Companies should embrace the internet and fully utilize all that it has to offer as part of their marketing plans. A company really starts engaging with the groundswell when the internet becomes a vital part of the marketing plan.  A benefit of “engaging with the groundswell is that your organization goes through a mental shift–  you become so engaged with your customers that you walk in step with their needs ad wants” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 217). The essence of this transformation is to take an idea known by only a few within the company and make it an organization-wide movement (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 217). The transformation consists of three key steps.

Step 1: Take it step by step
Changing the thinking of an entire organization takes time and practice. Change and progress cannot be made overnight so it is extremely important that a “repertoire of share successes” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 2017) is established. Moreover, these changes need to become a regular part of the company’s processes or else the changes will be quickly forgotten about and abandoned.

Step 2: Requires a progression set up like stepping stones.
A company will not only “need a plan and vision about where you want to take your organization” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 2017) but also need to develop a foundation that will help the firm naturally progress to increasingly difficult groundswell activities.

Step 3: Have Executive Support
Regardless how great you think your ideas are it is nothing without the support from upper management. Good ideas with the support from executives have a higher chance of catching fire within the organization (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 217).

After looking at a case example of a company that successfully embraced the three key elements of groundswell thinking to transform how their company works with customers (Unilever), as well as an example of a company that nearly crashed and burned (Dell), here is what you should do to make sure your company succeeds.

  1. Start small.

  2. Educate your executives.

  3. Get the right people to run your strategy.

  4. Get your agency and technology partners in sync.

  5. Plan for the next step and for the long term

(Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 230).


Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, USA: Forrester Research Inc.


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