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The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change

Jennifer Aaker, Andy Smith, Chip Heath (Foreword by), Dan Ariely (Afterword by) with Carlye Adler
ISBN: 978-0-470-61415-0
240 pages
September 2010, Jossey-Bass
The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change (0470614153) cover image


Proven strategies for harnessing the power of social media to drive social change

Many books teach the mechanics of using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to compete in business. But no book addresses how to harness the incredible power of social media to make a difference. The Dragonfly Effect shows you how to tap social media and consumer psychological insights to achieve a single, concrete goal. Named for the only insect that is able to move in any direction when its four wings are working in concert, this book

  • Reveals the four "wings" of the Dragonfly Effect-and how they work together to produce colossal results
  • Features original case studies of global organizations like the Gap, Starbucks, Kiva, Nike, eBay, Facebook; and start-ups like Groupon and COOKPAD, showing how they achieve social good and customer loyalty
  • Leverage the power of design thinking and psychological research with practical strategies
  • Reveals how everyday people achieve unprecedented results-whether finding an almost impossible bone marrow match for a friend, raising millions for cancer research, or electing the current president of the United States

The Dragonfly Effect shows that you don't need money or power to inspire seismic change.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Chip Heath, author of Made to Stick and Switch.


Introduction: Why Reading This Book Is Worth the Investment.

The Dragonfly Body The System That Keeps It Airborne.

Wing 1: Focus: How to Hatch a Goal That Will Make an Impact.

Wing 2: Grab Attention: How to Stick Out in an Overcrowded, Overmessaged, Noisy World.

Wing 3: Engage: How to Make People Connect with Your Goal.

Wing 4: Take Action: How to Empower Others, Enable Them—and Cultivate a Movement.

Onward and Upward You’re Flying! Now What?

Afterword by Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality.


The Dragonfly Ecosystem.

About the Authors.


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Author Information

A social psychologist and marketer, Jennifer Aaker is the General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Her research focuses on time, money, and happiness, and how small acts create significant change—fueled by social media. Her work has been featured in a variety of media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Forbes, and NPR, as well as CBS MoneyWatch.

Andy Smith is a principal of Vonavona Ventures, where he advises companies on marketing, customer strategy, and operations. Over the past 20 years, he has served as a high tech executive, leading teams at Dolby Labs, BIGWORDS, LiquidWit, Intel, Analysis Group, Polaroid, Integral Inc., and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

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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. (Oct.) (Publishers Weekly, July 26, 2010)

"The Dragonfly Effect is the single best roadmap to social media I have ever seen. With ideas rooted in research and examples rooted in life, it offers both big strategies and small tips that you can use to invigorate your business, increase your happiness, and maybe even change the world. So do yourself a favor: Take two hours and read this remarkable book."
Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive

"The Dragonfly Effect is actionable, credible, and absolutely necessary for anyone looking to use social media and Facebook to drive social good."
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

"The Dragonfly Effect  shows anyone how to get involved and take action on issues that matter to them. Its principles lay the foundation for any organization looking to harness the power of social media to champion a cause and create positive change in the world."
—Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman, eBay; founding partner, Omidyar Network

"So much of the recent focus on social technology has emphasized its power to distract. It is hugely gratifying to see a book which focuses on its power to attract, to powerfully bring together caring people around critical social problems to address them at global scale. The same principles that make a YouTube video go viral can help bring disaster relief to Haiti. It is all just a matter of making it happen. Thanks to The Dragonfly Effect, you can now learn how."
—Geoffrey Moore, Co-Founder and Managing Director, TCG Advisors & author of Crossing the Chasm and Dealing with Darwin

"This book makes envisioning, formulating, and executing a social media strategy an intuitive and—dare I say—fun process!The Dragonfly Effect shows how any individual or organization can turn their passion for reaching out to the world into a concrete set of actions."
—Jessica Jackley, Founder of Kiva and Profounder

"The Dragonfly Effect shows how social technology, openness, and empathy can come together to change the world. Read this book to discover dynamic ways to harness this potential for good."
—Charlene Li, author of Groundswell and Open Leadership & Founder, Altimeter Group

"There's theory and there's applied theory. The Dragonfly Effect brings us all the way from the science into the execution. To me, it's that last mile that most of us miss. With this, you can take your ideas all the way through the last mile."
Chris Brogan, author, Trust Agents and Social Media 101

"This truly innovative book identifies four powerful forces shaping our lives and shows how they are working together in unanticipated and creative ways. The Dragonfly Effect is fundamentally relevant to all younger leaders, who will spend their lives learning to leverage these forces, and to any leader from the baby boomer generation who wants to stay current with the role of social technology in business and our lives."
—Bill Meehan, Director Emeritus, McKinsey and Co., Inc.

"Too few executives take happiness seriously as a brand attribute, missing opportunities to build into products and services those features that would increase the overall delight and well-being of users and employees alike. Aaker and Smith have created an interesting, thoughtful, and engaging book to provoke new thinking about the power of joy."
Joel Peterson, Chairman, JetBlue Airways

"The Internet has made it possible for individuals and small groups to have an impact far beyond their size. Read The Dragonfly Effect to learn how to translate your good intentions into actual, real, tangible, world-changing good!"
Avinash Kaushik, Analytics Evangelist, Google & author, Web Analytics 2.0

"The Dragonfly Effect is an inspiration and joy to read. Drawing on design thinking principles and emotional contagion, this is an important read for anyone contemplating the virality of ideas and creating infectious action. You will love it. It will transform you and your work."
Pat Christen, President & CEO, HopeLab

"Motivating and inspiring, The Dragonfly Effect makes readers answer the question ‘how can I make an impact in the world?’ with yet another question: 'what am I waiting for?' Whether acting as an individual or a corporation. Aaker and Smith show you how to harness the power of social media as a force for good, in a way that even a CFO will love."
Lisa Edwards, Head of Global Business Development, Visa Inc.

"This book takes the fast-evolving world of social media and offers a clear, inspiring guide to create social change."
Bobbi Silten, Chief Foundation Officer, Gap Inc.

"An excellent read. The Dragonfly Effect offers a guidepost for every marketer struggling to stay on top of fast evolving social media trends and use peer-to-peer marketing to mobilize a mass audience. Even more powerfully, the book demonstrates that by using our networks for good, we will be happier and more successful individuals—in life and at work."
Joanna Drake Earl, COO, Current Media

"If you are ready to change the world The Dragonfly Effect has the social networking secrets you've been looking for."
Gregory Baldwin, President, VolunteerMatch

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Press Release

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

Much has been said and written about how companies can use social media to improve customer relations and grow profits.  THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change (October 1, 2010/ Jossey-Bass/$25.95 hardcover), by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, takes a different perspective: How organizations and individuals can harness the power of social media to achieve social change. 


'Most of us have experienced how social technologies are changing the way people relate to each other," the authors write.  "But we are only beginning to understand how these same technologies can fundamentally shift how we engage with and inspire all these networked people and empower them to participate in global movements for change."  THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT shows how social technology can be used to achieve a single, focused, concrete goal--whether it be to inspire others to join your social movement, mobilize political change, or simply satisfy an individual need.  Based on one of the most popular courses at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, it integrates the authors' two distinct disciplines--research and insights on consumer psychology and happiness (what really makes people happy as opposed to what they think makes them happy) and emotional contagion (the infectious spreading of emotion, where happiness seeds subsequent action), combined with the practical applications of marketing strategy in social media, which fuels this infectious action.




THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT is named after the only insect that is able to move in any direction—with tremendous speed and force—when its four wings are working in concert.  Similarly, the book incorporates four key "wings," or skills, which the authors express as Focus + GET:


            Focus – identify a single concrete and measureable goal.


            Grab Attention – catch someone's eye.  Cut through the noise of social

            media with something authentic and memorable.

            Engage – create a personal connection, accessing higher emotions,

            compassion, empathy, happiness.  Engaging is about empowering the

            audience to care enough to want to do something themselves.

            Take Action – enable and empower others to take action.  To make action

            easy, you must prototype, deploy, and continuously tweak tools, templates,

            and programs designed to move audience members from being customers

            to becoming team members—in other words, furthering the cause and the

            change beyond themselves.

THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT introduces these four “dragonfly wings” and explains how to coordinate them to harness social technology in order to spark disproportionate results.  The book features original case studies of such global organizations as the U.S. Navy, Gap, Starbucks, Kiva, Nike, eBay, Twitter and Facebook, as well as start-ups like Groupon, Bonobos, COOKPAD, and more.   There are also examples of how individuals and groups—on their own or on behalf of corporations—have used specific tools to create impact, whether the goal was finding an almost impossible bone marrow match for a friend, launching a unique product, raising millions for cancer research, organizing a protest against the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Columbia, or electing the current president of the United States. 

The information in THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT is supplemented with flowcharts, graphics, and sidebars.  The Dragonfly Toolkit provides social media cheat sheets and boot camps specifically designed for people whose other skills rank ahead of technical proficiency.  Dragonfly Frameworks include new models that will help you implement your goal, and Dragonfly Tips are simple, and sometimes unconventional, ideas inspired by consumer marketing research.  Expert Insights offer the wisdom of leaders in social media, entrepreneurship¸ filmmaking, technology, and more, showing how they have uniquely used social media to achieve spectacular results. 

In addition, Aaker and Smith apply concepts from design thinking, a methodical approach to program and product development that helps creators to get over their unintentional biases and misconceptions in order to create things that are better for the people who will ultimately use them.  They also reveal the secret to cultivating "stickiness," so that your goal is not relegated to Internet oblivion but instead reaches an audience of people who will help propel it forward.

Whether you're an entrepreneur, an employee of a for-profit company, a volunteer at a non-profit, or simply an individual trying to improve someone else's life, THE DRAGONFLY EFFECT is your playbook for using social media to execute your goals efficiently and effectively and propel your cause from awareness to action.  "Ultimately, this book demonstrates that you don't need money or power to cause seismic social change," the authors write.  "With energy, focus, and a good wireless connection, anything is possible."



Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change

By Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, with Carlye Adler

Publication Date:  October 1, 2010

Price: $25.95 hardcover

Pages: 256

ISBN: 978-0-470-61415-0

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