Connect and Transform with Groundswell

How can an organization form meaningful connections with their target market? Today, we see more and more companies connecting with their consumers through social online interactions. Even though traditional advertising is still prominent, companies are producing cost-effective ads to youtube and other social media sites to attract the younger generations.

This blog post will look at Chapter 11 in Groundswell and how organizations can master three key elements to transform how companies interact with customers and five ways they can prepare for the transformation.

Essential Elements

The three essential elements of this transformation are to first take this change step by step. A company cannot jump into strategies without giving time for employees to adjust (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 217). For the company to become successful, they must slowly adopt groundswell thinking as a part of the organization and their process. The second element is to treat each step as climbing stairs. This leads to a natural progression and momentum that can lead the company to the next step towards their goal. The third element requires you to have executive support “if you want your ideas to catch fire within the organization” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 217).

The Dove evolution beauty campaign is a fantastic example of how Unilever transformed its business to work with customers by using groundswell thinking.

This commercial begins with a “normal” woman and the process to transform her into an unrealistic standard of beauty. According to Groundswell, the video gained more than 5 millions viewers in the first year in 2006 (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 216).

5 Ways to Prepare!

The five ways an organization can prepare for a transformation are as follows.

  1. Start Small! 
    Pick your battles strategically because change takes time (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 230).
  2. Educate your Executives!
    Get everyone involved to promote specific benefits by creating internal blogs, social networks and collaboration within departments (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 230).
  3. Get the right people to run your strategy!
    Pick a person who has the most passion about starting relationships with customers (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 230).
  4. Sync Agency and Technology partners!
    Invest time and resources to ensure the departments communicate effectively (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 230).
  5. Plan for the next step and for the long term!
    Organizations need to know where this is going long-term (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pg. 230).

Connecting with WestJet

In a previous blog post: Social media Madness and WestJets Response, we see that companies like WestJet have taken advantage content communities. They really embrace transforming their company and connecting with their consumers by their Youtube video content that trend globally on social media platforms. Their most popular videos result from their Christmas Miracles and April Fool jokes. They have realised the importance of Groundswell and strategize by hiring the right people to make their brand in sync with technology.

Most recently the residents from the Fort McMurray wildfire were surprised with a WestJet miracle gaining over 1,394,266 views in 2 months.

This is nothing compared to the 47,110,307 views three years ago when they promoted their video WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-time giving. According to Global news, “WestJets Christmas Miracle videos have been viewed more than 54 million times since the first one in 2012” (Kornik, 2016). I believe WestJet successfully put listening and connecting with their shareholders/consumers first by applying groundswell strategies.

I think they’ve taken a lesson or two from groundswell.



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

Kornik, S. (2016) Global News. WestJet’s 2016 Christmas Miracle video features Fort McMurray wildfire victims. Retrieved from

WestJet (2017) Youtube. WestJet’s Official Youtube Page. Retrieved from

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