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

My Favorite Presentation (No Offense)


All of the presentations were great in their own unique way and I enjoyed being both entertained and moved throughout yesterday's class.  I just wanted to give a shout out to my favorite presentation of the day - Team Jenny.  From Bree's dramatic writing in silence on the whiteboard "What if you could change a life with just one click?" to the innovative video that proved the power of the written word on enciting emotion and communicating information - I was truly moved.  Here is their video:  

Here is the link to their website:  

This was inspiring - thanks Team Jenny.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Ripple Effect

Incredible class today. I was really touched to see Sameer's brother Prashant in class. I thought it was very fitting that he was able to be there and see a small part of the ripple effect that started with Sameer and Vinay. And now each of us is part of that ripple effect, and I don't think we'll comprehend the ultimate impact of our projects for a long time to come. A lot of incredible work was done. You never know how far-reaching an impact you might have. After seemingly banging our head against a wall for the first two months, it was only in the last week or two that our group suddenly started gaining real traction and seeing some real viral distribution of our message... And in the spirit of viral of course I'll provide a link to our video. :)

Thanks all - from Jennifer to the advisors to the guests to all the students - for an amazing class.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Using Humor as a Hook

Hey guys, I found this YouTube clip that uses Humor as a Hook to sending a message for social good.

So far its gotten over half a million views in one month!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thoughts on Virality

A Wednesday morning visit with some of the leaders of a well known social media applications company (to remain nameless) produced some valuable insight into what has made the most popular Facebook applications viral.  Some of these may strike you as counterintuitive:

1. Creative is not viral
2. User experience is not viral
3. Thinking is not viral

Question: please illuminate me....what IS viral?

Answer:  Process

Setting up an efficient A-B testing system that launches a series of SPAM (except it's not spam because it's from your friends).

A book that was recommended for us to read is "Don't make me think."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Facebook: How to make ideas spread

I loved this class! It helped me a lot to test the ideas we had as a Pod about MySpace, as well as generate more ideas on how to use this media and the different type of users for MySpace and Facebook. Just to give you an idea on the users, 4 out of 17 11th graders in our class use Facebook, 15 use MySpace!

I don't want to repeat the things that Vanessa and Anna have already said, so I will just let you know my key takeaways from the class.

1. Facebook has stimulated people to share more about themselves by having privacy settings that make the user feel more comfortable. As Matt said, "the more you can control the information, the more you will be willing to share" I loved it when he compared Facebook to the NY Times or Us Weekly about your friends... hilarious, cause that's exactly how I use it.

2. Always keep in mind the impact of social pressure. How does this usually work in Facebook? "6 of your friends have joined the group..."

3. Julio 5 tips were great. But the one I found more impactful was the power of "getting people angry", not to the point where they hate, but far enough to stimulate people to take action about uncomfortable issues.

4. Finally, Facebook has become highly important in communication. 70% of Facebook users use Facebook more than email in order to share information. This is a reality and the challenge now is how to use it for the right purposes.

Speakers email addresses:
Matt: Twitter: wync

The Perfect Storm of Social Technology

Hey Team PoST,

We (Alex and I - Donors Are Sexy Pod) are trying to follow a recommendation by Julio (Vasconcelos) to try to leverage the power of the different social tech tools to create what he called "The Perfect Storm" of social technology.

To do that, we created a new post on our Blog and included a Digg button as our first step. Our hope is that we get Dugg enough times to get some space on Digg's main page. Julio said you need as little as 200 Diggs to be there. If that works, then we hope we can get to be a featured video in YouTube, which could really boost our reach.

To get the blog read and Dugg we will try to use Facebook (our networks and the group page) and also reach out to two prominent Twitter-ers we learned about in class: Casey Wright and Sarah Milstein to see if they can help us spread our message.

So, if you want to check out our latest post to the blog, follow this link

Also, since you're going there, we would love if you Dugg it! If you still don't have a Digg account, I recommend it, specially now that they are working on a recommendation engine for news that's going to help us filter through the huge amount of content available today.


Donors Are Sexy! Team

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Facebook Case

Monday's class was amazing.

We not only had Matt Wyndowe and Julio Vasconcellos talking about Facebook, but we also had the students from the East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy contributing to the session.

The 3 main points explored during class were:

1) How ideas spread
2) Why ideas spread 
3) What ideas spread

How ideas spread

While in the past we had limited tools to spread ideas (e.g. letter to a newspaper, message in a t-shirt etc), today we have several such as blog post, comment on the net, video post etc.

Why ideas spread on Facebook
  • Massive scale: 175M users (50% log in every single day)
  • Identity: users contribute with their real-world identity
  • Friends: users connect with real-world friends
  • Distribution: the best content is distributed - what matters to the user
  • Privacy settings are different from what we had before in the Internet. Before it was either everything private or everything public (e.g. email versus video post)
  • The "newsfeed" is a "magazine about your friends" passively shared
  • There is no cost to share information and it can be viral
  • Friends help you to find content. They "filter" the content for you
5 winning strategies to spread ideas on Facebook

1) Appeal to vanity - people want to look cool
2) Get people angry - they will join a group against x
3) Cuuuuuuuute sells - use cats, babies, dogs (I love the "cuuuuuute")
4) Social proof - again, people want to look cool. People want to be part of a group
5) Everyone can save the world - or at least everyone thinks they can save the world

Some moments during this session I wondered what the Privacy group was thinking about some points - specifically about the filter in each user's newsfeed. I would love to hear their thoughts.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What we talked about:
- How ideas spread
- Why ideas spread on Facebook
- What ideas spread
- Example: captain Junkies

How ideas spread: a brief history
Cave drawings -> stone -> printing press -> telegraph -> phones -> tv -> fax machines -> mobile phones

1970s/1980s: easy to communicate one on one, but what if you wanted to communicate broadly to a group of people (one to many)?
Now: new tools that let you broadcast messages to the world really, really easily

“I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before.” - call it
Zuckerberg’s Law of Information Sharing

Why ideas spread on Facebook
3 things that make Facebook unique:
- 1. Identity - users connect with their real world identity.
- 2. Friends - users connect with real-world friends.
- 3. Distribution – the best content is distributed across the social graph.

Privacy control means more sharing: the higher the privacy settings, the more likely people are to share.

Main ways to distribute content on Facebook:
- newsfeed (this means that things can spread virally without a single dollar spent on marketing
- groups and applications can go form 2 members to millions of members within a matter of weeks: this is really unprecedented in social technology).

What ideas spread
Five winning strategies for the types of ideas that spread:
- Appeal to vanity (i.e. Facebook notes feature “25 random things”; hotness application)
- Get people angry (i.e. starving dog at art exhibit)
- Cuuuuute sells (i.e. fluff friends application)
- Social proof
- Everyone thinks they can save the world (showing that you care about cause; i.e. “causes” application)

Captain Junkies (Logan presents application on Facebook)

Concluding comments:
- This Friday (03/06) is an off-site
- Jennifer will send out email with location of where Monday’s presentations will be held
- Please send all presentation materials to Jennifer so that things run smoothly next Monday
- Feedback evaluations are coming – watch your inboxes.

Thanks for Today

Dear Class,

On behalf of the Kiva for Education team, I wanted to thank all of you for being so open and inviting to the students visiting from East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy. The students appeared to leave inspired and were incredibly engaged and excited after the session on facebook. After our class, we had lunch with them and invited some of our classmates from varying professional backgrounds to come speak with the students about their experiences - we had a doctor, a hedge fund investor, a buyer for Bloomingdale's, a lawyer, and a consultant. I think the words of the panelists really helped these kids realize that they can achieve anything they set their minds to, and that they don't have to have it all figured out right now. A special thanks to Micah for helping us out and speaking to the students.

I feel really good about today's experience and that, in some small way, we've already begun to make a difference.
Hi Class,
A couple intriguing facts from the Generation Tomorrow Research PDF that professor Aaker sent out on 2/13/09. If the Barack Obama case class didn’t make us all feel old, this research study likely will. It truly speaks to the impact social media is having on Tweens (ages 10 – 12).

Generation Tomorrow Research
· Research Parameters
o By Martin Lindstrom
o The world’s largest study on kids and their relationship with brands.
o 600 researchers, psychologists and strategists
o Research conducted in 70 cities across 14 countries
· Tweens have become the primary decision makers in 80% of all cases
o 60% decide the car brand
o 58% decide the clothing brand
o 57% decide the mobile phone brand
· Kids are most likely to become just as influential decision makers in the households as their parents within 5 years. Why?
o ½ of the world’s population is divorced
o They are exposed to substantially more media and advertising through the web
· TV ads no longer work
o % Recall
§ 1965 = 34%
§ 1990 = 8%
§ 2005 = 5%
· Key Tween Statistics
o 44% of tweens prefer Internet to TV
o 87% of remember brand messages integrated into video games
o 15% of tweens prefer to text instead of talk if they’re sitting beside the person
o More than ½ of the worlds tween population is concerned about terrorism and say religion is important to them (substantially higher than previous generations)
§ Over 90% say safety is most important to them
§ Music has become today’s religion to tweens
o Close to 10% of all tweens have their own website – ½ of them want one

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"The Facebook Era" and more demographics

I wanted to share with you the website of the book "The Facebook Era," by Clara Shih, who Jennifer introduced to me few days ago. The book was not released yet, but it is already on sale.

I am very interested in reading the book and I also found a good report in the website regarding common characteristics among social network users, which may be useful to our work.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


In preparation for Monday's class and discussion of Facebook - I thought whoever hadn't read this article about the latest statistics on growth and participating demographics on Facebook. Having witnessed my mother's "transformation" after joining Facebook last month, I have been increasingly interested in how this mode of communication will impact families for the better as they strive to stay in touch with one another's lives.


Twitter on NPR

As someone who is still a bit mystified by Twitter, I thought this NPR story with Dan Schorr was great! Link to the listen live button, NPR blog, and other info:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Marc Andreessen Interview with Charlie Rose

Great interview with insights on current technology trends and important innovation on the web. Video below and full interview transcript here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Best Marketing Campaign in History

Last Friday, we had 3 amazing speakers that discussed the roles that Google, CurrentTV, and Facebook played in the success of the Obama campaign.

Current TV, which is a social news network, took the conversation that people were having on twitter and pushed it through the TV. (For a taste of what the company does, check out So, as viewers watched the debates, they could see live commentary from twitter. The company was able to take a fragmented audience and bring them together. People felt involved in the political process. They felt heard.

Facebook helped to propel a grass roots movement. I’m still in awe over the power and reach of this social networking tool. (When Facebook placed a register to vote banner on its site, targeting adults in Iowa, participation within this demographic increased 3000%)! The company launched politician pages, teamed with news networks like CNN, and served as a platform for several applications that were used to attract donations.

I think Lexicon and Causes are applications that could be useful for our final class project. Lexicon tracks where people are talking about what. Currently, the topics that can be search is limited, but I believe this tool has some amazing potential. Causes is one of the most popular Facebook applications. For the Obama campaign, a user could do things such as donate his/her status update or airline miles.

Eligible voters who didn’t vote cited a lack of information as a primary reason for not casting a ballot. This is where Google stepped in. The company increased access to trusted information and made it easier for people to participate. They were involved in a variety of projects, from directing users to the appropriate voting locations to handing out video cameras at the Iowa caucus so that the individual experience could be documented. Throughout the campaign, it is estimated that 1800 videos were uploaded for 110mm views. This is equivalent to 46mm in paid advertising—clearly a smart use free of resources.

So, what innovation should we expect in the 2012 campaign? It seems mobile technology will play a larger role. However, I think the more interesting questions that stems from this presentation are: 1) how scalable are the methods that were used in the US election and 2) will traditional brands more willing to increase their use of social media following the success of the Obama campaign? The answer to these two questions is still to be determined. Moreover, I secretly wonder how effective all these methods will be once they are common practice for every marketing campaign. At that point, will we just be lost in a deluge of information, unable to process it all? I guess that is where innovation will have to step in once again.

Andii Davis
In addition to what others have posted, my big insights from our meeting with Oren and Justine were:
  • Take the risk of creating drama for the audience. Oren suggested that we try to line up our narration around key points in our video. Although it would be tricky, he said that it would really hold his attention because he would be wondering throughout the presentation if we were going to be able to pull it off.
  • Don't ever let your auditory and visual components repeat each other. What we say in the presentation should complement and add to what's on the screen, not repeat it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

takeaway from storytelling workshop

It was great to meet with Justine, Oren, and JD. My main takeaways were

  • you have to dive in and become the characters if the lights/power/comp go out, be ready for "what if" scenarios to still sell people on your idea
  • smart, creative people will have different views (see Oren and Justine), you can't please everyone with a single video or presentation and there are many ways a story can be interpreted

Takeaway from Oren and Justine

Oren and Justine stressed the importance of making a clear call to action - and perhaps more importantly tailoring this to the audience. It may change with each presentation. In addition, JD added that it is important to keep the call to action brief, but offer more than one option.

Gavin Newsom Facebook Invitation

Hey Class,

Here's another email I got from Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco. I found the opening line particularly relevant given the discussion we had as we debriefed following the Obama session...

Why Facebook?

With our state government in pieces, it's clear that the old guard can’t put California back together.

But the problem is so deep that even the boldest new leader is going to need significant help to get California back on track.

That’s why Gavin Newsom has spent so much time so early asking Californians to do much more than vote for change. He knows that a new direction for California is going to require a new kind of campaign for governor.

And that means giving his supporters the tools to be heard and the ability to make an impact themselves.

For Mayor Newsom – a new kind of campaign means bringing together Californians from every corner of our state who share a vision of progress on universal health care, on new green jobs, on investing in education from pre-kindergarten through college.

That’s why his campaign is organizing in traditional ways – and in new places, like Facebook and Twitter.

He’s shown what’s possible in San Francisco – he’s made his city the first in America on its way to universal health care; he is creating new green jobs with a smart economic strategy; and significant investment in public schools is helping to raise test scores and raise expectations for every student.

If there are two things Gavin Newsom has learned in San Francisco they are that bold change is possible and real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down.

He knows the old ways of campaigning might win an election, but they won’t change California. That’s going to take all of us. And that’s why we are spending time early asking Californians to join us on Facebook, sign up on our website and stay in touch on Twitter. These do more than allow Gavin to talk with us about his ideas. They allow us to talk together about what must be done at this moment in California history.

If you want to become a part of Gavin’s exploratory campaign for governor, contribute ideas or money, or make your voice heard – please join us today.


Eric Jaye
Campaign Director
Newsom for California Exploratory Committee

P.S. To learn more, please visit, and to stay in contact, please join him on Facebook Facebook .

If you would no longer like to receive emails from Newsom for California, please click here to unsubscribe.
Paid for by Newsom for California Exploratory Committee. FPPC #1308175
4104 24th Street, #766 San Francisco, CA 94114

Paid for by Newsom for California Exploratory Committee, FPPC #1308175
blank Sign Up Upcoming Events Join Gavin on Facebook Facebook YouTube Flickr

understanding twitter

for those of you still trying to figure twitter out (and what people use it for) like I am, see the below article, written by a friend of mine, in HBS's weekly publication.

Takeaways from Oren and Justine

"Feel your pitch" - My biggest takeaway from our meeting arose from some technical difficulties we had with imovie. Due to an oversite on our part we were not able to play the clips we came to show. In pitching my idea to Oren and Justine I adopted a passive tone, trying to explain to them what the videos would have been like.

While they seemed to like our ideas, they said it would be much more effective if I took on an active role and actually "became my video". I explained a concept of a video where Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies sings the Baby Back Rib song (trust me this ties into our idea) and Oren sensed that the pitch would be far more effective if I acted his out. I believe his exact words to me were "you are fat bastard" - which is not as offensive as it sounds.

This is something I will take away with me in future interactions where I work to enage my audience.

Justine/Oren Takeaway

My biggest takeaways from the storytelling lab with Justine and Oren were:

1. Importance of contrast - a story is oftentimes most intriguing when there are key points of contrast. In our case, this could be achieved by describing East Palo Alto and related statististics (% of EPA students that go to college, high school rankings, x% below the national poverty line, etc) and contrasting this with the Phoenix Academy and what the students there are trying to do (the school is a beacon of hope for these kids, they show up for school despite incredible commutes, they work hard to get good grades, the school is doing its job in preparing them academically, they are overcoming all odds in spite of the surrounding environment). This contrast shows these students as doing everything in their power to make a better life for themselves...and the only thing they are missing is the financial support they need to do so. This contrast creates a more compelling reason to donate.
2. Use of ticking clock- I had not previously thought about it, but Oren and Justine noted that we could really generate a compelling call to action by using the idea of firsts (this class is the first to graduate from EPAPA, these students are the first in their families to go to college, they went to their first prom this year, etc). The fact that these students are graduating from high school in 2010 creates a greater since of urgency for people to go ahead and get involved now. Oren and Justine did a great job of bringing this point out for us, something I think we had largely overlooked.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Today's coaching session (self-esteem group)

To add to the takeaways that Adri already described bellow:

1) Having less text and more pictures, given the emotion pictures bring to the presentation.

2) Having an "unexpected" factor. In our presentation was a contrasting photo, but it could be something else with the intent to surprise and call the attention.

3) Include some data to support our cause (e. g. statistics related to self-esteem).

Don't Be Bashful in Your Call to Action

What a great opportunity tonight to have another chance to share our stories with Oren, Justine and JD.  The biggest insight I walked away with was to be clear and direct in your final call to action. That means you have to know what your communication goal is for that specific audience. This also means that it may and *should* change with different audiences. 

So go ahead. Don't be shy. Call-to-action.

Story-Telling Lab

Takeaways from tonight’s Story-Telling Lab:
[1] “The power of the eye”
- Faces are memorable to audiences, especially if the faces are visually distinguishable. Introduce differentiating facial characteristics that audience members can use to distinguish between main characters. Faces are important; they can be used instead of names. The most important part of a face are the eyes.
[2] “The power music”
- Using music can be legally complicated. Be careful to not distribute copyrighted works outside of this class. Music is powerful, but use it carefully; in that it can evoke many previous memories.
[3] “The power of stock pictures”
- “show, don’t tell” (w/ images)
- Jennifer will forward link to a site that has a good set of stock pictures once she receives it from Justine. A good one that I know of is Once you register (the site is free), the images will no longer have the getty watercolor. If interested, play around with the key word searches - the site gives really good results.

A few other recommendations (note: may not apply to all Pods):
- “Use humor as a hook”
- “Ticking clock” gives sense of urgency.

Every Pod should be able to answer the following:
- Who is the intended audience?
- What do people leave with?
- What would people want to do?

Biggest Takeaway from Justin and Oren

In the storytelling workshop conducted by Justin and Oren, we learned several ways to improve our appeal and drive traffic to our Facebook group site in order to increase hunger awareness.

Perhaps the single biggest take away is taking the contrast of overweight comedic characters and the 18 million people who suffer from hunger to a whole another level. We had originally planned to show a clip of "Fat Bastard" from the Austin Powers movies among two other clips, but we learned that having a collection of comedy clips from some of the most popular movies can drive more traffic than having multiple types of videos (serious/funny/emotional) attempting to cater to all demographics. In addition, we can communicate excessiveness by showing images which display gluttony and overindulgence to create a stronger contrast between the haves and the have-nots.

This creative way of showing exactly the opposite of what people expect to see in a hunger awareness "ad" has the potential to spark interest far greater than doing what is expected.

Coaching session w/ Oren and Justin

When Oren and Justine first came to the class I was amazed by their different ways of evaluating stories. It was quite interesting to hear their feedback on Oren’s and Nicholas’ presentations. Knowing that, we were looking forward to hearing their take on our idea. It was such an eye-opening experience. They helped us see the story from the target audience's eye. Among everything they said, the one thing that struck all of us was the power of telling the story without narrating it. Oren literally showed us how difficult it is to convey a message just using images; but, once it could be done, it could be way more powerful.- Kaan

Final presentation: A few tips from Oren and Justine

Our group (Self Esteem) met this afternoon with Oren and Justine... their feedback was so useful! They're amazing! Although I have to accept that Oren is such a fast speaker that it was very hard to get everything he said. Here are my main takeaways:
1. You can definitely use photos instead of videos for your presentation. But these have to be GOOD pictures. A great tip to take a powerful shot: Focus on the eyes, the eyes are the window to the soul
2. Contrasting stories (a girl enjoying a manicure version followed by a female wrestler) provide an interesting yuxtaposition for the audience, contrast make them feel curious about the link that exists between two significantly different realities

Mozilla: The power of invitation and the power of thank you for participating

We started off today’s class discussing our sentiments about Friday’s class where we had guests from, google, and facebook.

Many students felt confused and uninspired by the’s promotional video. Jennifer noted two things about communication:
· Less is more (2 things max)
· Audience focus (how representative is a company’s presentation style representative of its own culture vs. targeted towards the particular audience?)

A lively discussion ensued about the effect of social technology on the way people are discussing issues as well as some speculation about the future of these technologies and how we will interact with social media down the line.

Jennifer then introduced our guests for today, including Asa Dotzler from Mozilla.

There are three principle causes that Mozilla publicly and passionately supports: Open Standards, Open Web, and Open Source. Asa spoke about joining the Mozilla team early on and how they went about establishing a set of rules and principles without stifling growth as they added programs to Mozilla.

They used a grassroots campaign with the goal of purely getting people to talk about Mozilla – Mozilla now has a community of 150,000 people who are participating every day to get news about Mozilla out there. Asa and the rest of the team initiated this grassroots effort by merely emailing friends, and the growth they saw from this was incredible. The team took out ad in NY Times shaped like the Mozilla logo containing the names of everyone who had contributed to campaign. The tagline they used was along the lines of: “Get your name in the NY Times and help our campaign” – As and team had to shut down the site in 10 days because raised $200,000 (as compared to an anticipated $150,000 over a month!). The NY Times ad generated more coverage from bloggers, articles, etc online than there were actual viewers of the ad in the Times.

Asa also spoke about a group of Oregon students that created a giant crop circle in the shape of the logo and, again, emphasized how Mozilla really strives to empower groups of people to participate in the way they want to participate by providing new opportunities for people to get involved and bring their expertise to the table. Asa said they try to portray the message that, “If you want to do something for us, go out and do it.” This reminded me very much of the Vinay and Sameer campaign where individuals were empowered to run with the cause in the way they see fit, organizing their own blood drives, etc.

Asa then introduced Seth who is in charge of the global localization program at Mozilla to translate the browser into as many languages as possible. Seth emphasized the importance of empowerment of individuals and leverage – everything they do is volunteer driven. They have over 200 million users worldwide with 20% market share yet have a budget that is only a miniscule fraction of that of other browsers. Mozilla currently exists in 64 languages and 85% of current users hear about Mozilla through word of mouth. This is an amazing statistic given they have essentially no marketing budget and is a true testament to the power of using social technology. Seth attributed part of their success with this type of marketing strategy to having a specific call to action that encourages people to get involved (and makes it simple for them to do so). Seth said his goal is to localize new elements of the product so people accessing the internet for the first time can have a more familiar experience. Seth then introduced Sunil, who works at Mozilla Labs group which also strives to decrease barriers for people to participate in product development. Sunil spoke about ways to involve people with less technical skillsets (artistic, marketing, etc) by developing new products outside of just browser (cloud computing, etc). Sunil noted that, at Mozilla, people take ownership of the message they produce, since it is their own spin on the message even if they weren’t involved in the early days.

We concluded class by discussing the power of an invitation and the power of thanking people for participating. How do you empower people to help? Mozilla’s participants are their customers. Motivation for people is that they want to be a part of this and they know they are a part of it when their voice is heard.

We spent the last 15 minutes of class with our groups discussing our projects while Asa, Seth, and Sunil informally spoke with some of the groups.

2/23 Firefox Case

Key Points:
- Less is more (2 things max)
- Audience focus
- The power of quotes
- Become a voice.
- Power of an invitation. Power of thank you.

General comments on Friday’s “How to Think Small” presentation:
- Interesting: does corporate culture seep into presentation style?
- Use metrics to measure the amount of debate that is happening.(i.e. how many individuals from an opposing viewpoint communicate with one another)
- Social technology and change is moving very quickly. This is reality - we have a choice to stay with the status quo or to change.
- Standing out from the noise is important right now.
- Social technology increasing the number of people who participate in a conversation, even though it is not a direct replacement for a conversation.
- About social media: feel like a “kid with a gun who has not been trained to use it.”

Sticky points from Friday’s “How to Think Small” presentation:
- The power of quotes
- We may not remember specific details, but will remember the feelings i.e. thirst for metrics, feeling like a kid with a gun.
- How do you do justice to voice what you believe in, but you are also open and transparent to other opinions, views, etc.

Aza Dotzler (Mozilla)
- Why we did this?
-- Mozilla is a non-profit; it’s mission is to promote choice and innovation on the net and ensure that there is social opportunity for participation
-- Web browser is the mediator between you and the web. To use the browser you used to have to be a programmer. Mozilla’s ultimate success depended on increasing the scope of activities/ getting the product into the hands of users.
- How we’re doing this?
-- Compared to Wikipedia, open-source programming needs a few more regulations (because if you incorrectly code something, the program may not work). Challenging to find balance of imposing rules, but not having them be too stringent.
-- Mainstream marketing:
--- Initially worked to take out 1 page ad in NYT to help launch Mozilla. Needed to get 10,000 people to donate $10. Those who donated saw the web as an opportunity to preserve an educational, interactional space.
-- Grassroots marketing:
--- Crop circle in Oregon. 1 acre crop circle of giant Firefox logo. It raised awareness of the product and encouraged people to get involved.
-- Learned to have a process to handle things.

Localization (Firefox available in 64 languages, didn’t pay for any translations)
- Global effort to translate the browser into as many languages as possible
- Firefox gives individuals a call to action. “Here is a Mozilla browser, you can help by translating this into your language.”
- Anyone can start contributing: i.e. support, localizer, developer, marketing, testing, add-ons, marketing.
- 85% current users hear about Mozilla through word of mouth.
- Become a voice: hack on code, schedule events, join campus reps, support end-users, spread Firefox, take part in the Affiliates Program

Mozilla Labs Groups
- Get broader community involved
- i.e. if you are an artist à create art that can be integrated in the browser
- i.e. if you are in marketing à you can work to help promote the browser
- 2008 political campaign: 1992 older-school campaign with a handful of tightly controlled messages v. new school of loosening up multiple messages and letting them evolve [beauty behind the latter is that people take ownership, control, and pride in their message].
- Next question to ask: How do we support people who want to make a movement on-line?

Openness, Transparency and how to foster that in Mozilla?
- Engaged with people who were already saying good things about the product. Emailed those people thanking them and [action] asking them to put a button onto the front of their page.
-- A few people did not know how to do this, so built a self-service tool that could be downloaded.
-- Asked people to post soundbites of 1 sentence description of Firefox.
- Get more people to use it, and get them to tell their friends about it.
-- Don’t focus on how to market Firefox as a brand. Focus on what is needed by the customers. Every feature that Firefox has is there because it makes sense to the end-user.
- Power of an invitation. Power of thank you.
-- Individuals who do these very simple things well will have a lot of power.
- Different projects have different types of participants. Firefox’s participants are altruists.

Reminder from today's class...

Never underestimate the power of an INVITATION and the power of a THANK YOU.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Barack Obama Case

I was really impressed during the elections by the participation of Facebook. So, having someone who worked directly with it and also people from Google and Current in class to talk about how it happened was very interesting to me.
Mainly, I was positively impressed by how well the websites could contribute to the elections, motivating people to vote through tools such as the "counting" and the voter registration in Facebook, the video with CEOs, Google Maps showing where to vote etc.
On the other hand, the fact that the Internet still reaches a very restricted demographic and that fewer Republicans use Internet compared to Democrats made this entire work to be a lot more about Obama than elections. I also wonder if the effect could have been similar with another candidate. It seems to me that Obama's charisma and the "change" message contributed significantly to mobilize people also through Internet.
They mentioned the challenges to scale this work internationally, but I think even locally the effectiveness will depend a lot on the candidate and the moment.

Finding the signal in the noise

During the class discussion on the Obama case, Chloe made the point that the new great skill set in this era is “finding the signal in the noise” – aggregating all the myriad tiny points of individual user data into the big picture. It echoed the goal behind Sep’s project, and until this week, I had only thought about using Facebook or Twitter to keep up with people I know, not to look at the overall trends of all Facebook or Twitter users. I played around with Facebook Lexicon a little bit ( -- you type in a word, and it graphs the number of times the word appeared on wall posts by date. It’s pretty interesting to see the trends – for example, if you track the word “super bowl”, it peaks every Monday, right after Sunday’s NFL games. “Hip hop,” on the other hand, peaks mid-week every week and drops significantly on Saturdays. I guess that’s related to when new albums come out?

I do think, though, that it’s dangerous to draw too many conclusions from this data. For one thing, I thought the guests in Friday’s class overestimated our generation’s use of social technology. When I’ve talked about this class to other friends at the GSB, many of them have never heard of Twitter, or if they had heard of it, they had never used it – and I think of the GSB student body as a tech-savvy group. I don’t know much about the demographics of Twitter, but it doesn’t seem to me to be a very representative population sample. Also, I had many conversations about the election last fall, but the vast majority of them occurred in person – not on tweets or Facebook wall posts. Maybe most of my conversations about the 2012 election will occur on Facebook or the next online platform, but I doubt it. I do agree that there is some important data to be mined from these sites, but it makes me nervous to think that it will be taken as reflective of what my generation thinks.

Overall, though, I thought the class was fantastic, particularly the statistics on how much voter registration increased (3,000% among young adults for the Iowa caucuses, according to Randi) and how effective Obama's use of YouTube (according to Brittany, his videos had 1,100 million views -- the equivalent of $46 million in paid TV advertising). Clearly, neither party can afford to ignore social media in the future.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Barack Obama and the responsibility of social media

Traditional media outlets such as TV and Newspapers have developed over the years a "professional code of ethics", with truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability as some of the most commonly cited principles or core values.

As we saw in class the efforts of Google and Facebook around the election were highly motivated by the passion the speakers in class had for the subject and led by small teams. Even tough Britney and Randi seemed very well intentioned and discussed some concerns they had around trying to remain impartial, the level of their thinking around the implications of their actions and their responsibility now as a key media outlet seemed still very incipient and far behind their actual level of influence. As Alex commented on his post, these companies - especially Google, are becoming more like content providers and have to consider the responsibility associated with the role.

Another interesting thing, IMHO, is looking at the type of content that was popular during the election and how much it really "help stimulate the debate". If you search for Obama on you'll find the story of the "Obama Girl", which was actually a character created by the site and was tremendously popular, with videos that had over 13 million views on YouTube.

On an unrelated note, browsing through is fun and if you want to make an video advertisement for the G1 phone you can submit it and if selected to go on the air you can get $2500. User generated ads could be relevant in the near future, especially if the user-generated content continues to please the crowds, as Chloe mentioned they are currently preferred 9:1 on a study made by


More people are talking, but are they debating?

Another thought that I couldn't finish earlier and that I explored in a post-class discussion with Jon. 

The question I'm asking is: What is the effect of social media of the structure and nature of the public debate?

And my hypothesis is: The more importance social media gains, the more people will stay isolated in their ideological silos. The public discourse will become more and more fragmented and more and more opinionated. 

With public debate I mean the basic democratic process of the exchange of opinions, information and arguments that forms the fundament for every functioning civil society. Social media like facebook, twitter, etc. makes it very easy for very individual to only read blogs, to only see clips and to only interact with people that share and strengthen the own conviction. While classical media - due to its limitations and journalistic background - forced every consumer to get at least into superficial contact with contrarian viewpoints, social media makes it possible to live in a world without real debate.

Given these thoughts, I strongly disagree with the thesis presented in class by yesterday's guests that social media automatically makes the public debate richer, deeper and broader. The opposite could be the effect. More people are talking, but nobody is debating. I'm not saying this can not be prevented or overcome but so far the basic insight that noise is not equal to debate seems to be lacking.

Please don't interfere from my critical postings that I don't see the value and fascination of the social media revolution. Yet, as academics, we should put our focus also on the potential dangers, weaknesses and backslashes. See you all next week and have a great weekend.