Blog on “The Dragonfly Effect”

Insightful, informative, and lackluster—these are the three words that come to mind after putting down my newest read, The Dragonfly Effect. The title immediately captured me. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “The authors are focusing on the dragonfly instead of the butterfly. This is already a ‘hipster’ book.” I have to say that the title was ingeniously chosen as it has the same message as the butterfly effect in that small actions create big movements, but there is the added portion of the dragonfly—the only insect that can push itself in any direction with the four wings working together in harmony.

The authors, Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, took the analogy of the four wings and broke them into the road map of four principles that work together to drive social change: focus, grab attention, engage, and take action (or as they call it: Focus + GET). This was only the start of their double-digit number acronyms that they said throughout the book. It got to a point where the acronyms became too distracting and defeated the purpose of reinforcing the topics aforementioned in the chapters. When I was able to put the acronym-happy writing aside, I was able to see the true meaning behind their message: social media can drive social change! After finishing the book, boy can I see it more than ever.

Each chapter goes through a “wing” principle and then further into the individual’s design principles. I’ll leave my frustrations about acronyms out for the remainder of this blog, but let’s just say that the principles and design principles got all the action. Anyway, the first wing, Untitled1focus, was where the book kind of lost me. Personally, I think that this topic is pretty self-explanatory. To put it bluntly, I did not dog-ear any of the pages, and that speaks volumes in the world of highlight-happy readers such as myself. This chapter is what gave me the lackluster feeling that I mentioned in the beginning of my blog. There was nothing that gave me the “ah ha” moment that I so desperately look for when reading books such as this. Don’t get me wrong though, I loved all of the example stories that the authors went through in this chapter, and I especially appreciated the mention of the Obama campaign in the book and on The Dragonfly Effect blog (, a perfect explanation for how focus can create success.

Continuing on, this is when the book got me. My “ah ha” moments and dog-eared pages exponentially grew throughout the next three chapters. The height for me was in Chapter 2 talking about grabbing attention. I couldn’t help but think back to my last blog post about Your Brand: The Next Media Company. The author, Michael Brito, spoke about taking a brand into the social media world successfully. In this, he keyed in on the idea of pushing through the advertising clutter. Similar to Aaker and Smith, Brito talked about how important it is to get your name out there more than 3 times in order to have your brand be seen or heard through the clutter. Aaker and Smith label this concept “grabbing attention.” The statistic that was the most astonishing to me was that 94 percent of people have turned their backs on traditional advertising. I hope that this part of the dragonfly’s wing is flapping extra hard because there is certainly a lot of ground that needs to be covered in order to grab attention in creatively different ways.

Aaker and Smith speak of sound as a major way to make a visceral coUntitlednnection. Such as the one-second long SVU sound connects with listeners all around, so too does sound and color connect with people in campaign aspects as well. Sensory grabbers like the color red linked with Coke and yellow linked with Lance Armstrong or SVU’s advertised sound are all major players in the attention grabbing game.

Logically following grabbing the attention of an audience is keeping them engaged. Even Brito went into the topic of engagement in his book with one of his vendor spotlights: Spinklr. The constant mention of how important it is to grab attention is of course an important one, but really thinking about it, it is also important to retain their attention. Thus, engaging would be just as big of a topic! If you are not creatively keeping a viewer fixated on your campaign, then you run the risk of losing what could have been a big success.

The last chapter—the time to take action. This could not have ended better than with the story of Alex and what is now known as Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Personally, as a big proponent of ALSF, I could not have been happier with the highlighted pages that this great foundation received. It is so true that this is the perfect embodiment of all of the wings: the focus, attention grabbing, engagement and action that this non-profit was formed upon and still hold true today are exemplary examples of what this book and social change should be about.

In all, I really enjoyed the message behind this big and was so glad that it shone light on some great non-profits that I have both heard and not heard of in the past. Getting involved with social change through the non-profit world is where I see my life headed, so this book certainly provided a great framework of how you can make a meaningful impact if you take your goals and guide them into the right channels and see your dragonfly fly.


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