Monday, March 16, 2009

The Power Of Social Technology in El Salvador's elections

I didn't think Social Technology was going to be as relevant for El Salvador elections as it was for the US elections. But during these past two days (Saturday and Sunday) I have been following all my friends' Facebook status updates and I'm very excited of what I have seen. To give you a little bit of context, El Salvador has two parties - Right party which has been governing for 20 years and Left party which came from the communist organizations of the civil war. Left party was most likely to win, according to the surveys.
Here's what happened in terms of Social Technology:
1. Openness: In the previous elections, everyone that supported the Left party was criticized and would be too open to let people know about their beliefs. Now, with FB status, everyone is being honest and yes, criticized, but still want to share what they believe. A huge development in our society.
2. Dialogue: The ones that criticize my status updates are my friends. Otherwise they wouldn't be in my FB network, of course. The ability to have a one on one conversation without generalizing and saying "all right/left party followers are wrong!" makes me believe that the dialogue is now real and we can talk about our differences and still be friends!
3. Pride: It makes me proud that this new generation is so committed to talk about these issues. It was about time that we owned the future of our country. And it makes everyone feel proud of being a Salvadorian, regardless of them winning or losing.

Great lessons of the Power of Social Technology. It's real! Even in such a small country

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Falling in Love

Though many of you have likely seen this video before, I thought it demonstrated so many of the principles and techniques we learned in this class over the last quarter, in particular falling in love. Thank you all for making this such a memorable experience.  Cheers, Shal

PoST Wrap Up - The Last Class

Considering the experiences we have each had during our time in Professor Aaker's Power of Social Technologies class, today will certainly be a day of mixed emotions and reflection.  Here we go:

One sticky insight from the class:

Clarity of Ask/Storytelling
Give up Control

Putting it out there – iterate – user interaction
Think small
Share yourself – belong to the group
Learn from others through the process
Put yourself in someone else’ shoes – what did they have for breakfast?
The messenger matters
People are good (viral) People are lazy (busy – need a clear call to action) People are simple (reduce)
Find one clear emotion to tap into and to drive

As we went around the room sharing our stickiest takeaways, it was clear that while there were similarities in lessons learned, each person's experience was unique.  I also enjoyed hearing the comments and knowing what that particular team had accomplished having seen their presentation a few days before.  Moving quickly, we transitioned this wrap-up discussion into Professor Aaker's lecture on Happiness.  

This lecture is data driven and provides a great opportunity for self-reflection.  A couple of funny videos helped to articulate some of the challenges we face in our attempts to be happy:

From Conan O'Brien - this comedian helps us to remember why gratitude and recognizing how fortunate we are is a key to happiness.  Louis CK:

From SNL - this clip help us to remember that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence and something's gotta give when we pour the majority of our time and effort into a career.  Kelly Ripa – Crack Cocaine:

This lecture is posted online so I will spare the details, but I did want to share 2 tactical takeaways:

1. Carve out your areas of incompetence:  There was some debate about the downside of such a principle (ie: young girls jumping quickly to say "I'm bad at math" when they might have a tremendous, although dormant, capacity for mathematics) but overall there are some apparent benefits to this practice.  One tangible example was given of a consultant who joined some firm and, rather than follow suit with his colleagues and claim he could handle any of the potential tasks thrown his way, he chose to be very upfront, to carve out his areas of incompetence, and tell the people he worked with exactly what he wasn't good at.  The story goes that he was promoted faster than any of his peers because of this practice.

2. Brand Family Traditions:  we talked about the power in branding traditions to create powerful memories for our children.  One example that will stick with me forever was of one family's "Linda Evangelista Spring Cleaning Fashion Show."  The family would, each Spring, pull out all the clothes from the closet, have a fashion show, round up all of the old clothes, and before the end of the day drop them off at Goodwill and organize the closet.  These clever parents were able to brand an activity, Spring cleaning, in such a way that it became the treasured memory of their 19 year old daughter when asked "What is your favorite family memory?"  Pretty impressive.

The Last Class – Course Reflection and Discussion on Happiness

Each class at the GSB concludes with the obligatory thank you from the professor, the extended applause as the professor exits the stage, and finally the awkward moment of silence as students pack their belongings. While the components of this three-step process rarely vary, the emotions invoked throughout the process are often the distinguishing characteristic of the class’s value. When I looked around the room during this process today, the value of the first-ever PoST class was validated by not only the wide range of emotions invoked, but also by the lack of one reaction in particular: apathy.

The passion that the PoST course instilled in our class was apparent in the last class session as we started by sharing our most valuable personal insights from the course. This collaborative reflection served as further proof that individuals exposed to the same message can have vastly different takeaways. Classmates touched on a variety of subjects (samples below) ranging from highly emotional to straightforward and tactical. We then transitioned to a discussion on happiness (highlights below) that served equal parts 1) tying together class frameworks and 2) tying together life frameworks.

Classmates’ Stickiest Insights:

-Grassroots movements are most effective when initiated by an “insider”

-Relinquishing control of your message can be a scary, but necessary, step in allowing it to spread

-Even experts cannot predict what will go viral and what will not

-Bias for action. Test, refine. Test, refine. Test, refine.

-People want to share, so give them something worth sharing

-The power of storytelling and multiple subplots

-Thank people so they feel like a rock star

-Don’t underestimate your audience. Tell your story and be brief.

Jennifer’s Insights:

-Grab Attention

-Own a color

-Fall in love

-different than being in love

-Choose words carefully

5:1 ratio, positive:negative


-Photo of African woman at market


-Think small

-Be brief

-Call to action

-Butterfly framework from sameer and vinay


-Happiness is poorly understood

-We’re not all talking about the same thing

-Happiness “setpoint” are hard to break

-State of happiness is often normalized within six months after winning the lottery, fighting cancer, etc.

-People are not good at recognizing what makes them happy

Disneyland – people remember it fondly even though it was not that great

-Difficult to predict what make you happy

-Stop chasing happiness, start chasing meaningfulness

-Work on projects you love

-Carve out areas of incompetence

Two small notes:

-Email Jen if you want to continue your project but need resources.

-Email Jen if you have suggestions on how to form groups effectively.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

PoST final presentations – a great highlight in our Stanford experience

And the day came. High expectations were set the first class when Jennifer told us about this event. And there we were, remembering once again Sameer and Vinay, who’s memory will live strongly through this course.

Family, friends, students, staff, VC’s, entrepreneurs, public school teachers, you name it. They were all there waiting to see what had gone on in PoST for the past 10 weeks and understand, to some extend, how social technology was changing the world in eight five minutes presentations.

• The College Reform Team came first and was able to explain what was the BCS team was and how they came up with their results to determine who wins and loses. It seemed ridiculous and felt that this guys just had to “pull the trigger”. If they aim right, great change could come along? Who are they going to use to champion it, NFL, “underdog universities”?

• The Dance Project gave us a great insight: make sure you give ownership to the right people – in an unofficial way -, only then, social technology will do its part. Determining who “the right people” are is done 1 on 1.

• Team Jenny brought emotions to another peak. I thought the “white board” idea was brilliant. Although we didn’t really know who Jenny was and how could we help, it made us feel that she was talking directly to us.

What was also great was to realize how corporations get connected to social causes: by the individuals within and below, not necessarily from above. A Google executive was in the room and explain how she had got $15,000 from the company to help Jenny find the comparables she needs to cure her illness.

• Hunger affects all of us. There are 36 million people out there, with different stories from which we can’t just “tune out”. Families, children, seniors. Wendell is one of them. Cancer took everything away from him but he can’t complain because there are others “so much worse than him (me)”. What can we do? Simple: Click, call or care (,

• Public education is failing big time. In East Palo Alto, 50% of the students are not graduating from high school. Just across 101, 15,000 students are getting the best college education in the world. How can this be? It matters less than what we can do about it: support the “front line heroes” throw, a social network that is supporting oung guys like Mike Berman who are doing whatever it takes to make sure that at least some of this kids of East Palo Alto will make it through college.

• Did you think that organ donors could be considered sexy? I didn’t, as well as 25,000 others who took the time to watch a simple video, with simple guys and a simple message. Amazing traction. Much higher that many more sophisticated ones that usually don’t go beyond 700 visits. Results? 88 of them are sexier now than before our class started.

• You may not realize how exposed you are in the web until someone shows you a picture of someone that could have perfectly been you within the last month! Remember that there are millions of (video)cameras out there capturing too many images… This is just an advice from “”. After feeling that exposed, everyone should want, more sooner than later, to control his or her information and profiles, more even its advertising free - Orlando, it seems that you’re on to something big.

• Did you know that the word sex bring up the most beautiful thoughts for some and the most disgusting to others? Yes. Among the latter, the 70-90% of female delinquents that have been sexually abused in their life. Where do we start from there? Connecting them with themselves and their dignity. How? Through Yoga. Can Yoga help on tough people? Definitively. If you don’t think so, ask the 49ers! The Art of Yoga Project have got it right and its founders want to spread the word to meet similar needs around the world.

10 weeks, 32 students, 1 teacher (and good friend), 8 breathtaking initiatives that change the world. Are you still skeptic about the Power of Social Technology? Get on board and feel the impact. Now.

(When I was young my goal was to change the world; I grew up and realized that this would be impossible and aspired to change those around me; time passed and I then only hoped to change myself; I changed, and the world begun to change around me – Mother Theresa.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Social Media Trends from a Mintel Int'l Group Study (October 2008)

I thought some of these statistics might be of interest - how lucky are we that we had the opportunity to take a class on this emerging wave of marketing / communication!

Study of 2,000 adults 18+ with Internet access in October 2008

Some 43% of adult respondents stated that they had created at least one social networking profile.

79% of 18-24-year-olds and 71% of 25-34s reported doing so.

Approximately 76% of those with a profile reported having created one for MySpace, while 71% had posted on YouTube and 61% on Facebook.

Picture and video-sharing are becoming much more popular and are activities at the heart of the social media trend. Some 39% of respondents reported uploading pictures or video, but 68% of 18-24s and 64% of 25-34s reported doing so.

45% of the individuals surveyed are now blogging online and 77% read blogs.

Some 34% of respondents reported clicking an advertisement on a social networking site in the week prior to taking the survey. However, the research suggests that blogs and product reviews have more influence on consumer behavior than ads on social networking sites.

Source: Social Media Trends by Mintel Int’l Group (October 2008)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Opportunity to use new PoST skills

I was so impressed and inspired by all of the presentations yesterday.

Just wanted to share an opportunity some may be interested in- it could be a 390, an independent project, or potentially a SMIF:

Peninsula Open Space Trust is seeking ways to engage new groups and increasing numbers of potential supporters through different web-based social networking tools. We are working with someone now to design a Facebook page for POST, for example. What we're looking for is feedback from other environmental organizations on if/how they have engaged these emerging, and increasingly popular tools, and what the future might hold for how environmental NGOs and POST can communicate their work through these channels. How have others used them, with what success, what frustrations, how much time have they had to spend maintaining/updating them? etc. would be among the questions we're interested in.

Gordon C. Clark
Conservation Project Manager
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST)
222 High Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Phone: 650 854-7696
Direct: 650 854-8384 x332
Fax: 650 854-7703