Well, to define it according to Josh Bernhoff, Groundswell is “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations”.
Take the example of digg.com. A company who allows readers and bloggers alike to “digg” a news article, a video, or a blog and then generates the top stories at the top of the Digg.com homepage. On May 1, 2007, a user blogged an encryption code, those who “digg” really dug this and created a frenzy on Digg.com. However, digg.com was the one to be punished. To make a semi-long story short, digg viewers heard the news and asked that digg take down the blogs. Instead, thousands of blogs talked about the encryption code and movie companies were now out of luck. The groundswell effect had taken place and corporations were no longer in charge, people on the Internet now controlled the message.
Groundswell also includes social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. So, why should those in the Public Relations field be worried?
Because of the Groundswell effect, corporations are taking a chance of not being in charge of their own message. However, those who accept it, end up thriving. Groundswell is giving corporations a way to really listen to their consumers. So, if used properly, it can be beneficial to everyone.