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The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change Hardcover – September 28, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Q&A with Authors Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith

What is the Dragonfly Effect?
The Dragonfly Effect is a model that taps concepts from social media, marketing strategy, and consumer psychology to help people achieve a single, concrete goal. We named it after the only insect that can move swiftly in any direction, and even hover, when its four wings are moving in harmony. The four “wings” of the model—Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, and Take Action—work together to help readers produce the change they seek, and that desired change can take many forms: social good, employee morale, or customer loyalty, among many others.

The name itself is a tribute to the “Butterfly Effect,” which is itself built on chaos theory. It describes how the flapping of a butterfly’s wings might have an impact on the weather halfway around the world. The dragonfly, however, moves with tremendous speed and force, and compared to a butterfly, it has about twenty times more power in each flap of its wings. You can imagine that potential is even greater when harnessed and coordinated on a mass scale. Al Gore, former vice president and master viral-message maker, once said, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Small acts create big change, and working in concert maximizes your ability to go farther faster—and in any direction you choose.

What inspired you to create this movement (or ecosystem)?
There were three underlying reasons we started working this book: first, Andy’s experience in marketing and harnessing social media to build brands suggested that the social space could be deployed in a fundamentally new way; second, Jennifer’s research on happiness, which shows that what people think makes them happy isn’t really what makes them happy; and third, most importantly, our own personal experience working with amazing, smart people to find a bone marrow match for a friend, which, as a result, helped to build up a bone marrow registry that’s helped thousands of others. Those stories, and the tools that were developed as a result, are described in this book.

These three things led to “The Power of Social Technology,” a class that Jennifer teaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The class is designed to help entrepreneurial students harness the social web to cultivate good in the world. The course demonstrates not only that people are clamoring for ways to use the social web for good, but that there’s a framework and a repeatable process that can help them achieve their goals quickly. We wanted to share this model with as many people as possible and are excited to see what can be achieved as even more people get involved.

Lots of books describe how to use social media. How is yours different?
That’s true; there are many excellent books that teach the mechanics of using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. And some explain how to use these tools to compete in business. But few books address how to harness the incredible power of the social web to make a difference. The Dragonfly Effect shows you how to tap social media and insights from consumer psychology to achieve a single, concrete goal. We walk readers through the Obama campaign and how they pioneered social technology strategies to create political change; how Starbucks uses the social web to engage with customers and educate fans about social-good initiatives, such as buying fair trade coffee; how ProFounder provides a platform for crowdfunding for small businesses, making micro-loans easily available to entrepreneurs; and how everyday people are able to improve the chance of survival for cancer patients.

We also have direct insights from the founders of eBay’s World of Good, storytellers from Pixar, and leaders from Facebook, Twitter, and Google…all offering their unique expertise and success stories. Throughout the book, readers will also find Dragonfly Toolkits designed to break down potentially intimidating first-steps and walk them through the process of getting started with easy-to-implement actions.

What do you mean by “the ripple effect” and “emotional contagion”?
Just as a rock thrown into a pond leads to a series of waves that radiate in all directions, the small act that you do can lead to big, often unimaginable results. Research shows that ripple effects result from small acts that have a positive significant impact on others over time. When the action at the epicenter of the ripple effect is based on deep meaning (or something that you believe will make you happy), a multiplier effect can occur because of principles of emotional contagion.

Emotional contagion is the tendency to feel emotions similar to and otherwise be influenced by the emotions of others. So when others around you start to feel the way you do, they can become more strongly energized and mobilized. The fact that your feelings of happiness or meaning can actually infect others also helps explain why some initiatives work and others don't. It underscores the potential for organizations of all types to cultivate social good—which is often tied to happiness and meaning—when they’re trying to capture the imagination of their employees and customers.

From Publishers Weekly

Marketing gurus (and married couple) Aaker and Smith turn Aaker's popular class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business into a handbook on using the power and popularity of social media to do good in the world. They employ real-world examples--an e-mail campaign to register bone marrow donors for hard-to-match patients, a Colombian engineer who used Facebook to organize a protest against the Revolutionary Armed Forces, Obama's grassroots campaign, the microlending site Kiva--to illustrate their mantra F+GET: "Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, Take Action." This is the "Dragonfly Effect," named for the insect's ability to move in any direction when its four wings work together. Specific, practical advice teaches readers how to translate anything--a product, service, community concern--into a powerful narrative that invites participation, how to communicate with potential supporters, how to craft a compelling video, and more. A fascinating, comprehensive guide for how to take your cause and compassion viral.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470614153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470614150
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on February 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Dragonfly Effect is recommended as one of the better books that discusses how social media works and to get advice on how to think about your own initiative. The authors focus the book on the application of social media to social causes, but do not let this focus deter you from thinking that the book is only applicable to not-for-profit situations.

The book is organized around the four things the authors have learned in developing course materials at Stanford's business school. The four things are:

Grab Attention
Take Action

The authors employ these areas and their own advice in this book by concentrating on a focused subject - the use of social media to do good. They start with attention grabbing stories of individuals and how they and groups formed using social media to do good. The material is engaging from the perspective that the reader can see how they can apply these ideas or would want to participate in such a cause. Finally, he decision trees and other support leads one to take action.

This places the book somewhere between the thinking and content found in a Seth Godin or Clay Shirky book and the plethora of recipe oriented books about social media. The advice in this book is similar to what you will find in just about every book on social media. That may lead you to discount this advice, but I believe that Aker and Smith found it first and have described it better.

The book is recommended for people who want to understand the principles, practices and ideas that drive social media as its more at the general public than others. Marketing and Communications will find more advice than managers who are looking for ways to think through these issues with an eye toward implementation.
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Format: Hardcover
This excellent book focuses on how social media have the power "to make a difference." In a way, that's what all the books about social media are about. However, the special focus of The Dragonfly Effect is to emphasize the behavioral components that drive the actual impact of social media campaigns, and "make them stick," to reuse the expression coined by Chip Heath, who wrote the foreword of the book. The dragonfly metaphor gives the authors the four wings of the model that governs the efficiency of a social campaign: Focus + GET (i.e. Grab Attention, Engage, Take Action): "A dragonfly travels with speed and directionality only when all for wings are moving in harmony," the authors note. Each wing constitutes a chapter, and each chapter details the specific design principles for building up the emotional contagion process.

The book starts with the powerful story of two teams who ended up joining forces, Team Sameer and Team Vinay. Contrary to most social media stories, we are not in a fairyland here: Sameer Bhatia and Vinay Chakravarthy both lost their battle against leukemia in 2008. But both teams achieved phenomenal success by making an impact, not only by raising awareness about donating bone marrow, but also by getting tangible results - i.e. changing mindsets and doubling the number of South Asians registered with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).

The initial condition of success in social medial is to have a focus; in other words, "to hatch a goal that will make an impact." This focus is driven by five design principles: Humanistic, Actionable, Testable, Clarity, and Happiness. Yet, focus, however clear it may be, is not enough. How are you going to stand out in an "overcrowded, overmessaged, and noisy world?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book provides a great road map for harnessing social media for infectious action. Reading it will be of enormous value to both individuals and organizations wanting to mobilize support for a cause or brand.

As someone who does research on cause-related marketing, I also consider this book to be very relevant for understanding how firms can most effectively communicate their CSR actions in a way that has maximal impact.

However, this book is not just for nonprofits and companies involved in cause related marketing. Indeed, although many of the examples are about efforts to help others, the book also offers concrete ideas that can be used by brands to build meaningful relationships with customers as well as employees. The broader scope of this book is on using social media to inspire people to take actions that will truly make a difference. Illustrations of how this can work for brands include examples from large companies such as Nike, eBay, and Google as well as from smaller ventures such as FourSquare, Groupon and Cookpad.

In a world where so many organizations are struggling to develop a meaningful social media strategy, this book does a great job of offering hands-on tools, based on solid academic research, for how to do it right. Its definitely a must-read!
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Format: Hardcover
These days, it seems as if everyone is, in some form or another, connected to social media. Between tweets, posts, photos, videos, articles, and websites, all people are surrounded by endless conversations. In The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change, Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith wish to cut through the ongoing chatter to give anyone looking to achieve social change a road map to do so. Their audience has no limit -- Aaker and Smith attest that this book is for YOU "regardless of the change you seek to effect in the world".

In a nutshell, the book is effective in accomplishing what it sets out to do. The concept of the dragonfly effect itself is brilliant, summed up in four steps (Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, and Take Action). Aaker and Smith use an array of other acronyms to sum up the sub-topics of each step, though some (HATCH and TEAM) are much more easily digested than others (PUVV?). In addition to the alphabet soup of acronyms, Aaker and Smith discuss a slew of design principles for each step, drumming up many key means to succeed in the digital market. For example, the idea of innovation arrives in the form of Seth Godin's Purple Cow, or as the Happiness Machine installed by Coca-Cola to satisfy hordes of undergraduates during finals week (bonuses ranged from flowers to a ten-foot-long sandwich). The concept of "stickiness" is discussed much in the book, as related to campaigns of companies such as Bonobos, a clothing retailer designed with those who don't like to shop in mind. Twitter is touched upon here, with accounts for Dell's Outlet store, and using mentions (@username) to effectively engage your audience.
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