Review: The Dragonfly Effect

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By Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith with Carlye Adler

The Dragonfly Effect is a must read for those inspired by the expansive opportunities presented by social media. Since the creation of the first blog, social media users and social do-gooders have scratched their heads trying to determine how to unite their two groups. How can social media be harnessed to promote positive changes and make a difference in the world today? This is the exact question that authors Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith explore in The Dragonfly Effect. The book provides readers with a guide on “how to bring people together in the age of distraction, and how to inspire widespread change without money or power.”

The most convenient and helpful aspect of the book is its layout and language. Rather than give a boring presentation of the facts, The Dragonfly Effect uses simple language, headings, and “feature” boxes throughout the book making it useful for both business professionals and high-school students alike. Further, charts and diagrams are used often to simplify concepts and theories. Finally, by dividing the book into chapters (“The Dragonfly Body,” Wing 1, Wing 2, Wing 3, Wing 4 and “onward and upward), Aaker and Smith created a book ideal for referencing back to when developing social media initiatives.

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Throughout the book, the authors ensure that readers truly understand concepts by providing in-depth examples of the concepts in action. These real life examples make the material more relatable and intriguing for the reader. Recognizable brands such as Zappos, Nike, and Toms also speak to the timeliness of The Dragonfly Effect, a stark contrast to many outdated manuals and guides.

In the constantly evolving world of social media, it can seem impossible to grasp the concepts needed to create meaningful and long-lasting social change. The Dragonfly Effect is a quick read and useful reference guide containing invaluable information for those seeking to harness the power of social media to make a difference.

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Its Not You, Its Your Website

Politics has been a part of my life since 2002 when my mother was elected into local public office.

Post Election Party with my family

Post Election Party with my sister (left), mom and dad (center), and myself (right).

I never thought that I would become involved in politics myself. Thirteen years later, my life took a turn. Entering my senior year at TCNJ, I was afforded the incredible opportunity to intern with a top lobbying firm in the state.

Clip from a news brief recorded with my internship

Clip from a news brief recorded with my internship.

On a day like any other, I was assigned the task of locating contact information for the city councils, clerks and attorneys for over 25 municipalities. It was on this day that I discovered a terrible flaw in the county and municipal websites in New Jersey: THEY STINK! Okay, to be fair they don’t ALL stink but many of them do.

Pinaki Kathiari, founding partner of Local Wisdom, suggests that user experience is defined as a “hypothesis of different people in different situations, how they would use interfaces that are easy and pleasurable and provides value while satisfying a need.”

Simply put, people want to visit a website that is visually pleasing, easy to navigate, and provides the desired information. In researching municipalities around the state I found that many left me unsatisfied in these categories. And so, this is my ultimatum- cater to these needs or I (and other site users) are leaving… for good. But don’t feel bad, it really isn’t you. Its your website.

1. Visually pleasing-Below are two examples of poorly designed websites. Lack of color and poor formatting are the demise of the Allentown webpage (note that the video cuts off important text) while Alexandria Township suffers from small text, lack of images, and simply BLAH.
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2. Easy to navigate- through my exploration of countless city and municipal websites I have found that this feature is lacking for most of them. Often times contact information is strewn across the website rather than having a single “directory” page. Cluttered interfaces make it difficult to hone in on what you’re searching for. Faulty links lead to dangerous security warnings! Ease of navigation is critical if a website hopes to keep visitors coming back.

Security advisory presented when following a link to the Borough of Lawnside website.

Security advisory presented when following a link to the Borough of Lawnside website.

3. Provides desired information- With a majority of internet usage happening on cellular devices, it is evident that our society wants information and they want it now. Immediate gratification is something that should be provided by a website if it hopes to be successful in engaging its audience. City and municipal websites in NJ fail to provide this critical component. For example, after spending over three hours locating contact information for city council members I was forced to spend an additional two hours making phone calls to fill in information gaps. For a few towns, their websites didn’t list ANY of their city council members contact information. When I spoke to the clerks in these towns, they were easily able to provide this information from memory. This begs the question: if they have it memorized, how many other people are calling and asking for the same information. Just put it on your site! I’ll stop calling, I promise.

But really, I hope we can work this out. Our relationship has so much potential. So fix your website and lets see what we can achieve together.

Want to check out YOUR local page? If you live in NJ, check it out here!

Digital Killed the Print Marketing

Video killed the radio star in 1979. More recently, digital marketing has been plotting the perfect time for it to overtake traditional print marketing. While the hostile takeover still has a long way to go, digital marketing has already permeated almost every aspect of our lives. While many of us may automatically think of internet advertisements like banner ads when considering digital marketing, it flows through various other channels as well including television, phone, and applications on smart phones.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, these advertisements shape our purchasing decisions on a daily basis and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon…

When you log onto Facebook, “sponsored” advertisements fill your news feed. For me, the social media site has determined that I am a twenty-something college student, a member of a sorority, and an avid online shopper. My ads are shaped to reflect this (below).

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As technology continues to improve, the targeting that these social media sites and other digital advertising platforms utilize will be fine tuned.

How about Twitter? Yup, they’re guilty of the same tactics. When I logged onto the site this morning, the VERY FIRST tweet I saw was…you guessed it! An advertisement.

Well… I guess Twitter knows I’m trying to eat a healthier diet.(take note that I do not follow this company)

These are just two examples of ways that digital marketing is permeating every waking moment of our lives. This style of targeted advertising is only the beginning. We can expect to see these tactics grow and develop as social media platforms continue to emerge and grow.

Twenty years ago, no one knew what Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram were. Today, they are the epitome of both social media and digital marketing. But just as quickly as these platforms emerge, they can die out (RIP Myspace, AOL instant messenger, Google+). So, what social media sites will be gone five years from now?

  1. Vine– is this even still popular? Who uses it? This ones already on its way out the door. It seems that solely supporting a “video” function didn’t do as well as expected. To put it in perspective, Instagram (which also offers video posting capabilities) had around 130 million users last September. Vine hosted only 13 million. Need I say more? (Source)
  2. According to some talented researchers at Princeton, Facebook will lose about 80% of its users in the next 3 years. When comparing Facebook to the life-cycle of Myspace, it seems quite likely. Facebook isn’t “new” anymore and unless it can come up with a rebranding tactic that draws in new users, its failure is inevitable. (Source)

 

The real question at hand is what NEW social media platforms and digital marketing techniques will emerge as the current generation of technological advancements are placed in the “old news” file?


 

10 Core Strategies for Social Media Supremacy

Facebook has 1.28 billion monthly active users. 500 million tweets are sent every day. Over 20 billion photos have been shared on Instagram. The numbers don’t lie. Social media websites have permeated our world in the blink of an eye. Businesses pay social media strategists, managers and coordinators big money to help them develop a positive web presence. I, however, am offering you these 10 core strategies for social media success free of charge.

1.Talk with them, not at them. People are using social media because they want to be SOCIAL. It’s right in the name! Treat your social media accounts as tools to connect with the market and learn from them. After all, they probably know your products and services better than you do.

2. Honesty’s the best policy. Always. Whether you made a terrible judgement call when posting a tweet, allowed a glitch in your system to expose personal photos, or you simply released a flop of a product, the people following your social media accounts want the truth. Covering up mistakes only leads to distrust. By addressing issues head on, your company will gain respect for being proactive and responding to your audience’s needs.

3.Understand the purpose of each social media platform. If you don’t, it will be evident and the size of your audience will quickly shrink. Here’s a simple breakdown:

4.Update. Update. Update. Your audience is following your posts for a reason. They want to know whats going on. They want to know now. There are few things more frustrating than being left in the dark. Share! Comment! Post! Tweet! Do it all and do it frequently.

5. Keep it relevant. As much as we love funny memes, there is a time and place for everything. If you’re updating your social media regularly but you’re populating it with random nonsense, it will hurt you more than help you. This also means posting current info, not last weeks news.

6.Keep the spam in the can. We don’t want to see it. We get enough of it in our email. We’re also pretty sure there is a 10 year old can of it sitting in the back of our pantry. Keep it to yourself.

7.Have a personality. Make us laugh every once in a while. What videos go viral the most often? The one’s that leave us on the verge of peeing our pants. Old Navy released outtakes from their recent commercial campaign featuring Amy Poehler…HILARIOUS. It got them more publicity and it didn’t cost any additional filming time or costs.

8. Know what’s important to your audience. What are they involved in besides buying your product or service? As hard as it may be to believe, they do have other interests. The best way to form a relationship is by sharing common interests. Why do you think beer companies advertise so frequently during football games??

9.Get to the point. “How to lose 10 pounds in 1 week.” “The miracle 20 minute workout.” “Instant streaming.” Everyone is in a rush, there are appointments to get to, kids to pick up, and countless other things to get done everyday and we only have 24 hours to do it. When posting content, get to the major point quickly. Another option is to have a “spark-notes” version for readers who are in a hurry. If you choose not to do either or both of these things, you can count on losing a significant portion of your audience before you “hit it home.”

10.Satisfy your audience and your audience will grow. Word of mouth is undoubtably the quickest way for information to spread. If you make your current audience happy, they’ll invite their friends, who will in turn invite theirs. The cycle will continue.

For more social media usage statistics, check out this site!

Samsung ALS Challenge

This past summer, people all over the country were doused in ice water in order to raise funds and awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The disease, more commonly known as Lou Gherig’s Disease is a neuordegenerative  disorder which results in muscle spasticity (learn more here: http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html). While the Ice Bucket Challenge has reportedly raised $110.5 million for ALS research, there has been controversy over whether the challenge was more of a”cop out” or a way for participants to avoid donating to this worthy cause. While this debate is ongoing, the astronomical increase in monetary donations has proven this to be a successful social media campaign.

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Above, Justin Timberlake participates in the ALS Cold Water Challenge

In an attempt to profit off of the hype associated with the ALS Challenge, Samsung released their own Ice Bucket Challenge. The twist? Samsung didn’t pour the water on employees or company executives but rather on their recently released **waterproof** Galaxy S5.

WOW! How cool! A phone that can be submerged in water and still work. This is great news for the tech community but what does this commercial mean for Samsung’s reputation? The question at hand is did Samsung disregard the “Rules of Engagement” for social media usage when they created this commercial?

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

  1. Use social media channels as intended
  2. Don’t be a dirty spammer
  3. Assume people don’t care about the product
  4. Have a personality
  5. Provide context when seeking connections
  6. Be transparent
  7. Talk about the topic
  8. Social media profiles are not billboards
  9. Be Nice

In my opinion, while the advertisement for the Galaxy S5 was distasteful it did not violate these rules in their entirety. Despite this, by not adhering to every rule, Samsung has put their reputation on the line. How? Rule number 4 states that people connect with other people “on a deeper level than they can with a brand.” Samsung’s commercial stripped their company of its personality by seeking to mock other companies rather than promoting their own. Instead they should have sought to form a bond with their audience by creating their own identity and personality. This explanation also helps to explain how Samsung violated rule number 9: BE NICE. Not only did Samsung utilize the typical “Siri” voice, it also proceeded to challenge other (non-waterproof) phones to take this challenge as well. By doing this, the company created a childish, catty public image for themselves. It almost reminds me of a political campaign commercial in which one opponent endlessly bashes the other. The commercial feels as if it is not only mocking the “inferior” phones, but also the community affected by this disease.

Here’s to hoping that the public backlash from this advertisement will help Samsung realize that taking advantage of charitable causes is not the best way to increase their profit or popularity.