A Read Well Worth Your While

The Dragonfly Effect and the Power of Social Media

We often view social media as a way to connect with family and friends, to stay up to date on social events, or even to pass the time and relax. But we seldom view these platforms as a means of initiating social change and making a difference in the world. The Dragonfly Effect brings the power of social media into light and does so without the textbook feel of other books that discuss this similar topic. Authors Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith have managed to demonstrate, through the use of case studies, that small actions really can create big change. As noted in the preface, the goal of the book is simple: “to help you harness social technology to achieve a single, focused, concrete goal”. And by the end of the book, the reader is left with the impression that using social media to achieve goals is possible and not complicated as long as you have the passion to do so.

As its name suggests, The Dragonfly Effect centers on a model that is based on the anatomy of a dragonfly—the only insect capable of moving in any direction when its four wings are working together. Like an actual dragonfly, the dragonfly model relies on four distinct wings that, when working together, can achieve incredible results. The four wings are as follows: Focus, Grab Attention, Engage, and Take Action. There is a chapter dedicated to each wing of the model, complete with design principles that make up the wing and numerous case studies illustrating the concepts.

dragonfly model

The book, however, is not limited to detailing the importance of the four wings. It goes beyond to teach the reader about the best way to create goals, how to get people to become involved (ask for time, not money), and how to write an email that inspires action and spurs change (make it personal, informative, and direct). The scope of this book is so immense because of its ability to provide insight and strategies into achieving the smallest activities (like writing an e-mail) and bigger activities (like starting a social media movement).

The book excels in its use of case studies, and there is certainly no shortage of them. While there are case studies of global organizations like Starbucks, Kiva, Nike, and Facebook, there are also those inspiring stories about individuals like Alex (of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation) who created a legacy by raising money for cancer research, and Sameer and Vinay who used social media to organize 24,000 bone marrow donors in just 11 weeks. By using both brief and more detailed studies, Aaker and Smith were able to illustrate the dragonfly model in real-life cases instead of simply defining the model. The accompanying cases opened my eyes to the prevalence of the dragonfly model and the success that can be achieved by correctly implementing it.

Charts and models were also used in a way to reinforce and summarize the main points of the chapters. Not only was it helpful to see a condensed version of what I had just read, but it was also a break for my eyes, making it an easier read. The nature of the book allowed for the use of different layouts (bulleted/numbered lists, diagrams, flow charts) and the authors used them in a way that didn’t take away from the text, but rather added to the text.

how to write an email

What I believe to be the most important aspect of this book is the fact that it provides information that the reader will want to bookmark. Some people “bookmark” the pages (highlight, fold the page corner, write down page numbers) of favorite books so they can go back and re-read quotes or re-live the essential plot twists. In The Dragonfly Effect, I found myself bookmarking pages that I could go back to for years to come. Such topics included: how to test the success of your site (in 3 easy ways); three tips for Facebook presence; grabbing your attention immediately; Twitter bootcamp; and characteristics of highly engaging campaigns. These areas of focus, as well as the plethora of other ones covered throughout the rest of the book, are ones that can be useful in everyday situations and should not be overlooked while reading.

Many books exist that teach the mechanics of social media platforms, but The Dragonfly Effect goes beyond to show the power behind what you can actually do with them. It gives the reader hope that anyone can make a difference. It is a road map to social media and it shows us that social media is not just a medium for sharing funny pictures and videos with friends. It can be a catalyst for change.

What is the media saying about The Dragonfly Effect? Click to find out.


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