‘The Dragonfly Effect’, written by husband and wife team Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, is a book that breaks down the steps to incorporating social media into marketing and creating social change. A well-written and quick read, the theory proposed in the book suggests that four steps, named ‘dragonfly wings’, can help you use social media effectively to market your brand. The four wings will be further discussed and critiqued within this analysis.
This book and theory contribute extremely valuable and succinct knowledge to the field of social media marketing, as the authors capably demonstrate each point with their writing style and case studies, and spell out tips, how-to elements, and things to avoid in every wing and form of media. The format of the book and simplification of the process to create a social movement gives the average person the enthusiasm and tools to believe that they themselves can apply the concepts and drive change.
The dragonfly metaphor is used because dragonflies can move in any direction they want when all four of their wings are working together. The authors use this to remind their audience that in order to create change effectively, all four wings must be utilized. The dragonfly wings proposed in this model are: focus, grab attention, engage, and take action, and are laid out in a logical order that leads one through the process from initial idea to growth and maintenance of a movement. Focus asks the actor to set a single goal, break it into smaller pieces, build ways to measure success, and create the action plan. The grab attention wing sets the hook for the potential audience, using images and taglines to create brand recognition. Engage involves telling your story in a way that involves the audience’s emotions through various forms of media. Finally, take action is the push to have your audience become actors themselves by simplifying the methods of interaction and remaining in contact with them as the movement continues.
‘The Dragonfly Effect’ presents a marketing tool that can help any organization increase awareness, raise funds, and reach a larger audience. This tool is exceptionally useful for small organizations and not-for-profits, as they often find it difficult to spread their brand and increase the size of their audience. The methods introduced in the book clarify the necessary mechanisms for success that can elude those of us who do not fully grasp the potential of social media.
The principles and acronyms given by the authors help readers to streamline their story and focus, preventing unintentional inundation of their audience and building skill sets that will assist in engaging those that encounter the organization. For example, the acronym PUVV encourages the use of personal, unexpected, visual, and visceral components in advertising.
‘The Dragonfly Effect’ uses stories to tell the audience about the brand’s mission, vision, and values. These stories also facilitate emotional bonds being formed, which engages the audience. The authors recommend utilizing social media to promote the brand, but also suggest that the incorporation of encouraging and conversation-enhancing elements in the social media platforms will involve viewers further in your storyline.
Overall, I think that the authors’ arguments are valid and supplemented well with anecdotes. Their methodology inspires readers to rethink their position on social media as a tool, opening eyes of older generations to the vast possibilities encapsulated by the technology, and challenging the self-centric mentality that younger generations have when utilizing these platforms. The simple steps that ‘The Dragonfly Effect’ is laid out in – the initial four wings and subsets of lessons, principles, and tips – provide those interested in acting upon the theory with small, measurable goals to begin. The writing style is engaging and the many case studies reinforce the points that the authors make. I believe that one of the strongest arguments in favour of this effect is embodied by the theory itself – as one reads, it becomes clear that the authors wrote the book utilizing their theory as the basis for the layout. They have also gone beyond the print version, building a website for their audience to interact with and spur each other on to action. The proof that the theory is an effective means of creating social change is present in the success of the book, website, and offshoot elements such as events.
The weaker portions of ‘The Dragonfly Effect’ are in the physical structure of the book. I find that although the writing style is extremely engaging, the simple graphics and flow charts that begin with questions such as “Can you access the internet?” (pg. 163) are nearly offensive in the perceived assumption of the reader’s stupidity. I also fail to see the point in acronyms that do not spell words – I am not more likely to remember a series of words because of a random sequence of letters.
The stories of ‘The Dragonfly Effect’ in action are useful, however, the number used in the book was over-stimulating and I thought that the intended outcome was lost. There were also very few stories that gave examples of unsuccessful usages of social media. There could have been more scientific evidence of the theory incorporated, as the stories meant as ‘proof’ began to feel anecdotal. The overuse of the examples and repetition of points leads me to believe that the book was too long, and that it would be better suited to the format of a workshop, workbook, or blog. However, the theory and steps to implement it are powerful, and based on my experience of social media and social change movements, seem to be accurate and effective.
‘The Dragonfly Effect’ is a theory that is accessible and potent, and has the potential to improve the marketing of individuals, not-for-profit organizations, and other businesses that struggle to grasp the prospective sphere of influence present in social media. The inclusion of tips for various social media platforms assists individuals not familiar with the medium to embrace the technology and spread their brand. The four wings and simple steps included within provide readers with ability to act upon the new knowledge. However, the theory was simplified a little beyond what was needed, and has the possibility of leaving the reader feeling mocked. The function of ‘The Dragonfly Effect’, nevertheless, is not diminished, and the authors have successfully utilized their own theory in building their brand and creating social change through it. Readers are encouraged to put the steps into practice and share their experience on ‘The Dragonfly Effect’ website, and the writing style is engaging enough that readers will finish the book and be intrigued enough to investigate the online aspects. Overall, this book is an extremely well-written and composed theory that will assist the average person in building, marketing, and utilizing their brand to create social change through social media.
Hey cohort - do you agree, disagree, have any other points to contribute to this review? Leave it in the comments! I'd love to hear what you thought of 'The Dragonfly Effect'.
Aaker, J. & Smith, A. (2010). The Dragonfly Effect. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Baas, an imprint of Wiley.
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.