How does one navigate the contemporary marketing scene of ubiquitous internet, email, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and online blogs? 

Authors Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith show how to harness the power of social media in their book The Dragonfly Effect. 

Jennifer is a social psychologist and professor of marketing at Stanford Business School; Andy, her husband, is a marketing consultant. 

The couple’s research led to developing a model of how to “Focus + GET” success.

The principles of the Dragonfly Effect are rooted in the insect’s ability to fly in any direction, or hover, depending on the actions of its four wings. Jennifer and Andy link their “Focus + GET” model to the dragonfly by labeling its wings as Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, and Take Action. These components, like the wings of a dragonfly, need to be well coordinated and balanced, they say: 

  • The Focus wing is more effective when one chooses a goal that is realistic and meaningful enough to create happiness. A narrower scope of focus is recommended. For instance, a campaign to get more people to register their bone marrow focuses on the specific needs of a particular person for a transfusion. 

 

  • The Grab Attention wing is stronger when it creates deep visceral feelings through emotional images, surprising events, and a personally relevant message. For example, a pop manufacturer grabs attention by setting up a machine in a cafeteria that randomly gives prizes. The company then takes DVD’s of people enjoying their winnings and posts them on YouTube. Another cause starts with a viral email that invites readers to join a social media group and read a web page.

 

  • The Engage wing gets others involved by telling stories that they like, empathizing with them, and being authentic. This wing knows that audiences that are engaged are driven by emotions more than reason. A micro-lending enterprise strengthens can strengthen wing by posting the success stories of its clients on its web page. 

 

  • The Take Action wing empowers others to join in by depicting a movement as easy to join, fun, and open to newcomers. Many social causes attract members by first getting them to join a group on Facebook or Twitter hoping their discussions will subsequently lead them to developing needs to take action. The web pages of more effective campaigns then provide users with links for taking action.

 

The authors of The Dragonfly Effect claim that it goes beyond the mechanical emphasis of most other books about the internet and social media. The book links the best of prior social research to the evolving field of electronic social media, and shows how to tap into contagious energy and promote social causes. 

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At one point there is a reference to research in positive psychology that indicates that happier people are more likely to take action. The authors add to prior research by proving the effectiveness of their ideas when they have a class of graduate students apply “Focus + GET” in the real world. 

The Dragonfly Effect is a more effective book because of its layout. There are flow charts that guide the reader in implementing each wing of “Focus + GET.” The major points of each chapter are highlighted in a shaded box. The content is made real with many in depth examples and case studies – some of which are quite successful. 

Overall, Aaker and Smith convince readers of The Dragonfly Effect that “Focus +GET” is the best way to get social media to work for one’s cause.

 (Patrick Buckley is a freelance writer and computer systems analyst based in Ottawa.He can be reached at patb@ncf.ca)

 

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