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 .

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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.

On a lighter note

An interesting article to express my feelings in the class today -

Friday, February 20, 2009

Enthusiastic yet scared

Today's class was really interesting. I found the work these individuals had done in their organizations fascinating and it is impressive how - without much support in the beginning - they brought their companies to get behind their ideas. However, the thought I wanna share is a more controversial one. While I share the fascination for the change social media and social technology is bringing to reporting and news coverage, I find it a little bit worried how overly enthusiastic, number-centric and how little reflective our guest were regarding their work. What they basically did, although they mind argue some nuances, is turn Google and facebook into a content provider or at least content filter machine in that case (Election). They might argue that this process was initiated, steered and controlled by the user base but I think there is some grey area where the companies have large impact on how news travels the social graph.

Traditional journalists at CNN, MSNBC, NYT or BG - one might think about their work what one wants - all share that they are very reflective and self-critical about their work, their influence, potential biases and impact. With today's individuals I was missing this selfcritical reflection and instead got a lot of pure enthusiasm.

I think it is worthwile debating what kind of (self)-regulation is necessary when internet service providers in the social space like google and facebook will become the most prominent power in content and news generation and coverage. As content coverage and generation shifts more and more to the internet, this will undoubtedly happen. Currently, these companies employ no journalists, have no guidelines for these kind of questions and are not regulated or closely absorbed regarding this criteria. I think this has to change.

also, I think that Google, facebook, twitter and others have to go a long way in filtering out meaningful content in a way that is convenient and informing. The social media revolution of news and reporting should be one of increased depth and added perspevctive and not just an explosion of noise.

Gavin Newsom for Governor

Hey PoST class,

I got this email from Gavin Newsome, current Mayor of San Francisco. I found it incredibly relevant to the GET framework we've discussed in class. Check out the site. Very interesting way to use social technology to try to enable group thinking...

"Don't Do It Gavin" When I first started talking to friends and family about running for Governor, I was excited at how much enthusiasm there was for the idea.

It’s not a decision I’m going to take lightly – but of course it’s nice to hear friends say they support the concept.

That’s why I was a little taken aback when I asked my father what he thought. Without hesitation the man whose opinion I value most came out and said it:
“Don’t do it Gavin.”

I think my father must have seen my face – because he immediately said – “Of course I think you would do a great job – it’s just that nobody is going to be able to solve the state’s problems. I don’t want to see you fail in a job that's impossible to do right now.”

I hope all of you get a chance to meet my dad. He is the smartest, toughest and most caring person I know. He is at once a small town judge, an activist jurist and the product of a rough and tumble San Francisco political culture. He knows what he’s talking about.

I agree with him – changing California is going to be the toughest job imaginable. And my dad’s right – one person alone can’t do it. In struggles as big as we face today, we must all be activists if we are to succeed.

But what about 1,000 people? What about 30,000? What about 100,000 Californians who come together to make change?

I can’t do it. But we can do it.

And that’s why I’m asking you to join me on or Facebook .

I’m putting together an exploratory campaign for Governor to see if we can take the hard-learned lessons from the many reforms we’ve made in San Francisco and apply them to the State of California. Making big changes wasn’t easy in San Francisco, and it won’t be easy in Sacramento. But together we can make the changes the state demands.

San Francisco is the only city in America that is making universal health care a reality. If one small city can do it, together we can do this for the entire state. Like California, San Francisco has weathered historic deficits, but we have learned we cannot build for the future with business as usual. We have made sustainable long-term budget reforms to successfully balance a multi-billion dollar budget and save for tomorrow in our "Rainy Day Fund." If San Francisco can, then California can. We have made our city a national model for recycling and greenhouse gas reduction and a center for high-wage green jobs. If we did it here, then together California can do all this and more.

But it's going to take tens of thousands of us coming together to make the big changes we need. As important as a strong grassroots and netroots army is going to be in order to win the campaign, it will be even more vital if we’re going to win these much-needed reforms once we get to Sacramento.

That’s why I hope you will join us. On Facebook . On . And in person , as we travel around the state to make this vision for a better California a reality.


Gavin Newsom
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If all else fails, use puppies.

Hey Class,

One more thing I found interesting about the kinds of videos that grab attention online. In this case, it was more of an accident that turned into a phenomenon. These people wanted to check in on their puppy’s litter so they fixed a webcam so they could view the litter online. The link spread organically and over 4 million strangers tuned in to view the pups. I found this interesting because advertisers spend millions of dollars trying to create the next viral video, but a zero cost production like this spread through word-of-mouth and outperformed videos from some of the biggest brands today.

-Justin Wismer

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Think Small

I agree with the previous "PoST-ers" that Sep Kamvar's work is touching and engaging.

We began with 5 minutes to brainstorm how to think smaller for our POD projects- and contrasted this with our typical call to think bigger. Like Maalika, I found this a refreshing (and helpful!) exercise.

Kamvar began by telling us. "I am not going to walk through a How-To on how to think small. There is really not a whole lot to it. Just take whatever you are thinking about/doing and think a little smaller." Instead he told us stories about his work, and his own experiences "thinking small."

Within these stories he highlighted his four lessons:

1. Think small to think new
2. Think small to think deeply
3. Be small to think small
4. Often, the biggest rewards are the small ones

In these lessons, Kamvar reminded us to approach our work with humility. (Similar perhaps to Jessica Flannery's advice.) He reminded us that most people don’t care about your work when you think small. They tell you to think bigger-and don't pay attention until you do. It requires confidence and humbleness to stay small- but this offers its own rewards. When no one is paying attention to you, you can explore new ideas, even break some rules without notice. Through this flexibility and time to explore, you can potentially be more innovative. It also offers an opportunity to listen and learn more deeply. And, starting small (w/o a lot of operational expenses) provides its own flexibility to take risks, respond to opportunities, etc. Finally, he noted that appreciating the small rewards in life is perhaps most important.

Kamvar also offered tips on how to disseminate stories and ideas:

4 lessons
1. Tailor the medium to the mission
2. Be playful
3. Bring work to where people are
(Corollary 1: Make People feel is viscerally (feel it emotionally)
Corollary 2: Don’t be afraid to work outside the system)
4. Have a point

Especially when considering difficult social issues, it seems important to engage on all four of these. He showed us Banksy's street art as examples. Banksy effectively (and playfully) addresses serious, often depressing issues, with a humor and playfulness, that does not diminish the seriousness of the issues. It works.

Since the presentation, I have been thinking a bit about the power of information and story telling through aggregate data, combined with individual stories - and, the possibility to invite people who are often not invited to the table to tell their stories. Kamvar is working on a new, more accessible platform for storytelling for just this reason. I am very much looking forward to seeing his future work in this area.

PoST Blog - February 18, 2009: Think Small

Today's class was incredibly interesting and engaging. Sep Kamvar began his talk by challenging the traditional assumptions in business that thinking bigger is always better. It is a message that is repeated over and over again in the business press and has powerful advocates such as Donald Trump telling us to "Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and in Life". Yet despite the prevalence of these messages, Sep suggested that doing just the opposite and thinking small frequently has far more potential. Sep started the class by telling us a story of his first startup, Kaltix. Interestingly enough, it didn't start as a story of his startup but rather as a story of his Ph.D. work reading through hundreds of academic papers in an attempt to settle on a thesis topic. While reading through a paper by one of the founders of Google, Sep became captivated by a single paragraph on search engine personalization.

I found it really interesting that it was that single paragraph that occupied his thoughts for the next two and a half years. Rather than trying to pull out the macro trends from all of the academic research he had consumed over the years, focusing on this one small thought eventually led to key insights that in turn, led to remarkable breakthroughs in the way Sep was able to focus on the small details – such as a user’s individual browsing patterns through billions of pages of content, while abstracting large macro trends that eventually led to something much, much bigger.

As an entrepreneur, I also appreciated hearing Sep recount his startup experiences and risks he and his partners took to make Kaltix successful. Despite being three months from his Ph.D., Sep dropped out of school and spent his life savings building machines that would allow him to test the cutting edge technology that he and his partners believed possible. He negotiated hard with Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing and was able to beat out some of the Valley’s biggest companies for exclusive rights to the intellectual property and patents that he had created while working on his Ph.D. He turned down initial offers from venture capitalists, while building a working prototype of Kaltix that increased the company’s valuation 3x over the course of a few weeks. For the next four months, he dedicated his entire life to pursuing this one singular idea – spending so much time each day coding that he had to ice his wrists at night.

Ultimately, the story of Sep and Kaltix and its subsequent sale to Google, helped illustrate the key takeaways of Sep’s “think small” message:

Think small to think new: The idea for Kaltix emerged from Sep’s focus on a single paragraph in a thesis that was among hundreds that he had read while at Stanford. In order to be successful, one needs new ideas – and new ideas come out of thinking small.

Thing small to think deeply: Focusing on large ideas makes it difficult to dive down and explore in any detail or depth. By limiting our focus, and going after something small, we can begin to uncover key details and insights that may lead to something revolutionary.

Be small to think small: Venture capitalists and corporations are almost entirely focused on the “big” ideas and want to hear such ideas from the people they fund. To counteract the tendency to go after “big” ideas, Sep suggested that we try to be small – cutting out all of the expenses and overhead that tend to distract us.

The biggest rewards are often the small ones: Despite Sep’s success of having sold Kaltix to Google for millions, and despite having achieved what most people will never achieve very early in life, I was surprised and encouraged to hear Sep talk about his biggest reward – the five minutes he spent with his mother after selling the company. All of his effort to date had led him to participate in an extremely lucrative acquisition by Google, and despite the financial success, the knowledge in that moment that his mother was proud of him was far more important. This struck me as a fitting reminder to all of us that even though many of our small ideas will become big, successful ideas, the real, lasting rewards of our efforts are often intrinsic.

Sep continued his talk by painting a compelling picture about how the internet has changed our potential for collective storytelling. Now, more than ever before, we have an opportunity to get extremely granular in our stories and life experiences while also being able to show the macro scale of such stories at the same time. The Vietnam memorial in Washington DC is a great example of a story being told on two different scales at the same time – one sees the vastness of the sacrifice and tragedy of the conflict when stepping back and seeing the memorial as a whole. When we get closer, we see the thousands of individual names and stories that make up the larger whole.

Two fundamental changes have allowed us to accomplish the same kind of dual-scale storytelling online. The first change is a cultural one – more and more, people are sharing private stories, feelings and experiences in a public way. Blogs have become more and more popular – giving the public access to granular, personal stories. The second change is a technological one represented by the availability of better, faster visualization tools and techniques. These tools allow us to sift through the millions of individual stories in a search for collective meaning. To clarify the collective story, Sep suggested that we need to add detail, and the web allows us to do this on a massive scale.

Sep ended with an overview of some of the work he is doing with and Because other posters have talked about these projects in greater detail, I’ll just outline the key takeaways:

Tailor the medium to the message: It is important to meet people where they are and tailor one’s message appropriately. Sep shared some powerful images from an artist that chose to display art outside – as a way to engage people in their daily lives.

Be playful: Playful messages helping to engage people. For example, adding some images and a storyline of a cartoon fox to iGoogle was playful and increased engagement significantly on the site.

Bring the work to where people are: Sep encouraged us to work outside the system and make people feel your message viscerally. Images like the “one nation under CCTV” and children pledging allegiance to a Tesco flag create raw emotions in people where they work and live.

Have a point: Ultimately, we are all trying to convey a message and we need to be focused on what that message is. The clearer we focus on that point, the more impact we will have.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sentiment analysis

Think small - Understanding macro picture in a discipline often involves aggregation of micro-data. For example - GDP of a country is the sum of all income and output (not strict though), average happiness level is simple average of happiness index (let's just assume there exists one) among many other. Aggregation helps us "simplify" our observation. You can use sum(), average(), range () type functions to define the aggregation mechanism of a data. Since we often don't have technologies to use telescopic and microscopic view using the same device, the aggregate function (especially the average) leads to the conflict between intuition and reality.

Sep's work on sentiment analysis ( is exciting because it provides a unique flexibility to decompose the data and to aggregate them at the same time. The difference between small and large has become smaller !! This is a very powerful application of technology. It's like the ability to observe a social phenomenon from both macro and micro perspective.

Imagine - If we could build a massive machine that will monitor all the "economic activity" of the world and help us get a microscopic view of the economic world. If we could Geo-track the outbreak of disease or other social disruptions to the detail. How about observing the effect of a new marketing campaign or promotional message ? Did today's in NYtimes create more positive feelings or negative feelings ?

Interestingly, there are some companies who offer sentiment analysis software (refer to Sep has also offered some APIs for others to build applications on his work.

Think Small

I thought this morning's class was fantastic. Sep seemed to use all the material that we have studied so far in one class, namely, start with a story to grab attention and engage us, and give many mini stories throughout to help us take away his 8 small yet powerful lessons and finally look at the potential of making a big impact by focusing on the small things. The best part was, he seemed to neither know nor particularly care about when and how this big impact was going to happen. His focus was entirely on the small things: pay attention to individual emotions and see what they can teach us.

That said, I just wanted to summarize the 8 lessons, 4 from his own personal story:
- Think small to think new
- Think small to think deeply
- Be small to think small (I thought this was humility)
- Biggest rewards are the small ones (the small ones also happen to be the intimate ones)

The next 4 lessons were from Banksy's ( street art

- Tailor the medium to the mission (customer service?)
- Be Playful (Tea House iGoogle theme)
- Bring the work to the where the people are
- Have a point (this makes the work sticky, meaningful)

I was moved by today's talk and I am not even sure why, maybe because the power to think small is valued so little in the business school and yet it has the most potential to create action as it lowers the barrier to create impact: a small one will do.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sharing Some Communication Planning Materials

Hi all,

As everyone starts to shape their communications campaigns, I thought I'd share a planning framework that I think is simple, but really useful: the Spitfire Strategies Smart Chart. Spitfire Strategies is a group that helps non-profits on communications work. I'm not sure how to attached the pdf here, but you can download the full document and a one-page writable worksheet from their website:

There are also some fun story-telling, ad, and presentation resources at Andy Goodman's group also helps non-profits and others design communication campaigns. I re-read his "Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes" often : ).


Experience Project Class Notes - February 13th

We heard from Julio Vasconcellos from the Experience Project on Friday. Here are a few of the discussion topics that I found most interesting:

- As someone who doesn’t actually use social technology much beyond e-mail and Google, I was interested in hearing Julio’s short list of websites that can help create buzz. A key to creating tipping points here is the idea of “all or nothing” – either you get the votes and get to the top story on a site (via others voting on it), or you don’t . . . and if you don’t, your article really doesn’t take off. There is also a difference between being popular and becoming viral.
  • Viral Equation: (% people who pass on the story) x (% invitations accepted) x (average number of people invited)
  • If > 1, then goes viral
- Some of the sites Julio mentioned:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Stumbleupon (this one seems to be a service that finds a relays sites that you might like)
  • Yahoo!Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Kirtsy (targeted toward women)
- As in traditional media, it is important to think about the match between your message/issue and the audience of the social technology you are targeting. You can look up demographic information and topic use (e.g. categories like news, animals, etc.) for most of the sites. Quantcast (free) and Comscore (paid service) are two places that do monitoring. You can also get to know audiences by tracking different bloggers, spending time on these different sites, etc. Bottom line: know your audience and target your message.

- There also some interesting ways to message-test. Julio used Facebook ads, which are relatively cheap, to test combinations of messages/headlines and pictures. You can set this up to monitor impressions and click through rates. There are some specific issues here with regards to tracking whether someone just saw an ad vs. acted upon that ad . . . CPMs vs CPCs (if you are interested in exploring this further, I would talk to Shal). Jennifer also sent an email with information on message testing techniques, and the Google analytics information is really helpful too. As someone who has worked on non-profit communication campaigns for many years, the idea of having so many ways to do cheap message testing (as opposed to more traditional focus group work) is very exciting.

Friday, February 13, 2009

PoST Blog 2/9/09

Today’s class was about how to tell a story. It was really interesting to hear from professional filmmakers about how they tell stories and for a few groups to get feedback on their stories.
JD Schramm
• Find an hour with him and pod to hone final presentation, do this early on if possible, ideally 2 weeks before final prez, between Feb. 27 and March 9.
• Hone the final presentation (share the draft) OR Share the various pieces with him, ask for help in constructing final presentation
• All stories about brand should add up to one message
• SUCCESS framework from “Made to Stick” is useful but is not about HOW to tell a story
• Know when to shut up
• Pick specific roles for your story, articulate it through one word (“Defender” for Land Rover, “Queen” for Range Rover”), minimize cannibalization, nothing is fatty
• Practice distancing from your project, get some perspective
• Follow-on class in the spring will build on these ideas, Jennifer to maintain energy and build personal relationships with us
Guest: Oren
• Worked on Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life
• STORY by Robert McKee spent 40 years of his life collecting info and telling stories, much of Oren’s comments will draw from this book
• A story is a thing and a cultural practice
• Story usually about an inciting incident, facing a point of choice, compelled to change some aspects of their lives
• Always introduce yourself when pitching
Casablanca review
• Rick’s life is changed when she walks back into the bar and thus back into his life, now he must face the demons left behind in Paris
• This happens late in the script in order to give more backstory about Rick and the war, at 35 minutes into the film, this is late by general movie standards
• Several other sub-plots add interest to story and add weight to main story line through resonance and dissonance
• PLOT- set of specific set of choices that occur in an order facing the main characters, must have an introduction, inciting incident, climax, and a resolution
• Subplots- often simplified, edited out details, characters must change in the end, collectively pile on weight upfront to the main story line between Rick and Isla
o Bulgarian couple: she was going to sleep with officer to get papers, Rick helps the guy win money through roulette to pay for papers, this follows the main storyline of the film in which Rich helps Isla and Laslo
o French vs. German citizenry: great singing scene, see tension between the two groups
o Refugees in general: They look longingly at airports departing, smiles & frowns come and go to reflect mood of the movement
o Yvonne: dodgy love interest, her loyalties quickly change from Rick to German officer to France
o Laslo: leader of opposition movement, trying to get to America, spent time in concentration camp
o Rick vs. Ferrari (owner of other bar): Ferrari starts off just being a buyer of people, doesn’t care about anyone, but in the end decides to help Laslo leave Morocco
• Rick changes, combatant before in two different wars, he begins the movie neutral and mad at universe, he treats his own people very fairly, he becomes very partisan by killing German officer and helping out Laslo and the cause
• Lots of music in this film, 12 songs, more songs than Cats or Chicgao true musicals
• Rick’s Café echoes the American stance of neutrality
• Pickpocket was there for comic relief, he never changes
• What is the role of sublots?
o Jennifer suggest writing down all subplots related to your cause which add to overall plot (resonance) or show a contrast (humor or differentiation), write down one-liners (“Here’s looking at you, kid.”)
• More specific characters can be more generalizable (Rick is America)
Guest: Justine
• Was an attorney, hated her job, makes less $ now making films but is happier
• When telling stories to their kids or making films, she simplifies things, edits out hours of footage
• Law school helped her practice the art of getting to the core story
• Pitched a story idea in front of 80 people at Sundance, received $500 to finish her film “Paper or Plastic”
• Trailers are another vehicle to tell a story within 2 minutes
• New project- commitment, passion, and food, about 3 people who want to change the world through chocolate
o Frederick, the heart of the story, want to create factory at the source and sell it locally
o Diego, cow farmer in Brazil, sustainable farming, he is the earth
o Chloe, she is the mind and educator, highest paid chocolate connoisseur, only takes 4 chocolates a day, Robert Parker of the chocolate world, show consumers how to buy good chocolate
• Want to tell a larger story about food production, consumer
• Mental exercise of separating yourself from the project, was able to cut 30 minutes out of old film gave perspective and made it less personal
Guest: Oren
• Oren says to entertain yourself first and foremost is the priority, understand that audience comment cards are not everything, it is better to watch the audience watch the film, see when they laugh and when they are distracted, they lie afterwards on cards, don’t change whole structure but can tweak small things
• If something doesn’t work or a joke falls flat, go back and fix the core issue before the problem, why did you get that reaction?
• Notes from informed audience is helpful and dangerous, maybe they know too much
• Need to have a core vision and stick with it
Group Pitches & Feedback
1. Hunger group (Oren and Andii)
a. Got Wendel point, setting and character is heavy (homelessness, joblessness, health problems, hunger)
b. Powerful and dangerous to silence a room, held group
c. Don’t know what will happen to him next- he seems screwed (cancer and no $), add hints
d. Is this a redemptive story? (only goes up) Or a punishing one? (go further down)
e. Simple opening (“we went to a soup kitchen”) was good
f. Look at audience during prez
g. St. Vincent’s was his hope, tell more about St. Vincent, show faces, picture with backs of heads is distant, picture of him will help us connect
h. Gag yourself and ask “can you hear him?” on last slide
i. Wendel needs to change to make this a real story about him, a societal call-out is using him which is fine, give way for audience to feel good and do something about it
2. Education (Nico)
a. Complicated audio-visual set-up, a lot going on, video + Nico + handout, blocked Oren’s view, hard to talk over a video, must control what the audience sees, could have spoken entirely alone or entirely video
b. Don’t read your slides, make it a handout afterwards or don’t share at all, dangerous to hand out something while you are speaking
c. Oren: Appeal to credibility should be edited out, don’t share interpretation of the story, seems like justification, meta-comment makes Oren suspicious about why you are doing that, let audience come to that conclusion themselves about Vincent or the school
d. Justine: Liked knowing he was a friend, gave it a personal connection
e. Liked the last 30 seconds of video with kids saying their names & career goals best, shows potential
f. Think of 5 one-liners that best convey the story
g. Know who your audience is, are they funders? Word of mouth?
h. If goal is funding, then need to show conflict and need for $ to make a call to action, school must seem successful but not going to make it without funding, show how hard the current climate is, tell a compelling story about vinny, about the school, what the problem is
i. Combine Vinny story, student, school progress, and need for funding, makes for a complicated plot


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Class 02/09: How To Tell A Story

- Email JD Schramm to meet with him for one hour
o if you would like his help extensively starting to build out story from data, meet at least 2 weeks in advance. If already have story and data then it is okay to meet for an hour about one week beforehand.
o Jennifer’s suggestion: to write down sub-lots before meet with JD (i.e. subplot can add to main plot)
1) Title
2) Something to talk about
3) Two discrete groups
(ideal viral videos will speak to two discrete groups):
o Start writing down one- liners for your pod
o Can email Jennifer your pods’ one liners to be passed on to Oren, JD, etc.

- Building Your Personal Brand: class Jennifer will teach next semester.

How to Tell a Story Presentation
- Little stories should add up to one big story
- Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional --> great framework that make a story stick
- Think about arc
o Story climax that brings about absolute, irreversible change
o Story structure is critical in arousing emotions

- A silhouette factor
o Let’s you know what to cut from a program by judging the number of people that walk out of the show/room.
- Inciting incidence: characters at one point of story where they decide to take an action that will change the rest of their lives
o In Casablanca: 34 minutes into the film the (page 15 of the script).This is unusually late into the story.
o Ilsa walks in, Rick can no longer deny his past.
- Main story in Casablanca: Rick makes a decision to send Laslo and Ilsa to America after Ilsa says“I cannot decide. You decide for us”
Subplot: often simplified plot; includes introduction, escalation, climax, resolution, but edits out the main part
o All 5 subplots reinforce the main plot in the film
o Can edit out main elements of the story arc, i.e. important actions can happen off-the screen
- Plot: series of choices and instances that occur in order

o Beginning, escalation and end --> characters come out as fundamentally different human beings
o In the beginning: Rick is neutral; at the end he completely changes: sends Ilsa off with Laslo, kills German general
- “If your characters don’t change, you’ve told no story, you’ve related the incidents.”

- Storytelling
- Start wide, cull many stories before cutting
o Interweave the many stories you come up with, and then boil down to the essence of each; that is, make sure the final product reveals the most important part of each character
o Everything else is superfluous or additive material
o Keep asking yourself: is this superfluous?
- Sometimes it is hard to cut something yourself, this is why it is good to have other people edit and cut for you

- Words: tiny change (3 words can change a character i.e. in “A Bug’s Life”)
Know when to shut up
o Brevity makes the audience feel respected
o Brevity mystifies

- If you find your sub-plot becoming more important that your main plot, drop your main plot and elevate your subplot
“The power of one-liners”
- One-liners: lines communicate the souls of characters very efficiently – they are effective, terse. i.e. “Here’s looking at you kid” (there is weight in the context of the film)
o The craft of screenwriting is to communicate the feelings of the characters obtusely (around the issue).
o Screenwriters use words only to add to what the audience sees on the screen. There is no need to describe what the audience already saw.

- Documentary film-maker
- Go into film with an idea, shoot many, many stories and then cut the extraneous materials
- Commitment, passion and food and 3 people using chocolate to change the world.
- Characters: the more specific information that is given about a given character, the more general that character can become
o Make sure that you are not coming across in a way that you couldn’t predict
o Notes do matter when audience interprets something differently from what you intended.
o Always look before the note/comment was given.
- “Own your audience.”
- “The only time audience does not lie is when they are watching a movie.”
o Watch the audience watch your film / audio/visual work.
Be careful about receiving feedback from the audience.
o There needs to be one person and/or one core group that has the vision for the project. You take all the notes and zero in only on the ones that make sense for your story.

- Practice distancing yourself from your project.

- Story of Wendel – one face among many
o Feedback: powerful and dangerous thing to silence a room
o Which way will take the story? It starts down, if go up then story will be one directional. If down, it is a bit sad because we already start low.
o One liner intro was great: we went to a soup kitchen
o Physically be consistent with your story – i.e. physically do not talk. i.e. gag yourself and end PPT with “can we hear him?” --> engage the audience.
o You put audience into an emotional state, now make the audience take action.
- Viny Dotolo
o Opened school in Harlem to give students a chance
o Be careful if toggle between various versions mediums If have audio/video going in the background when you are talking, be very engaging
o Do not comment about your own story, just tell the story. Let audience come to that conclusion yourself; this respects the audience.
o Know your audience.
o Hand out information at the end.
o Can tell multiple stories: i.e. of both Vinny and the kids.
3 story telling tips:
- “A good story, well told.”
o A good story is not enough. It must be well told.
- “What happens is fact, not truth”
o Truth is what we think about what happens.
- “A story must somehow express everything you left out.”
o Let audience make inferences.

Monday, February 9, 2009

How To Tell a Story - Class Feb 9

Since this represents the class’ midway point we began with a summary of what we have done so far. We have learned of the power of social technology and experimented with sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. We have done an ethnography of Entourage. We have been inspired by the stories of Sameer and Vinnay, and Kiva; and in the case of the former we have been heartbroken as well.

The lesson for today was to learn how to tell a story and our guests were Oren Jacob from Pixar and Justine Jacob, a former lawyer turned independent movie maker. Oren spoke first, besides having a really cool name he also spoke really fast because he had a lot to say in a relatively short amount of time.

We used Casablanca as a spring board to discuss effective story telling. Oren said that almost all movies begin by introducing us to the main characters and their world. Then an interceding event occurs which changes the world in which the characters live at which point our protagonists must address this change by taking some form of action. In most movies this interceding event occurs near the beginning. But in Casablanca this happens at the 34th minute mark when Ilsa reenters Rick’s life which leads to the famous line “of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”. It is at this point that Rick’s world shifts, and he must now decide how he will respond.

We also discussed sub-plots and the idea that while the main plot must have all elements of a story, sub-plots can do away with certain segments of the story and let the viewer infer the remaining pieces.

Justine Jacob spoke next and told us a bit about her career, and how she shifted from a career in law to one making movies. Her movie “Paper or Plastic” ( about the National Grocers Association’s Best Bagger competition was recently released and she is currently working on a new movie about how chocolate can change lives (shocking but true).

Finally we discussed three key insights to telling a story:

1. Arcs
- Story structure is critical but chronology does not matter (think Pulp Fiction). You just want your story to follow an interesting pattern.

2. Start wide, cull many stories before cutting
- Don’t bore your audience with superfluous information that doesn’t add to the story.

3. Know when to shut up
- Don’t explain everything. Let the audience draw their own conclusions and interpretations.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Class 9: PET Brainstorm: How to Inspire Others to Take Action

Introduction to Jamie Hartmann from Taproot: Pro Bono Action Tank
- Multiplier effect drives the organization

Call with Steve Knox, CEO of Tremor, at Procter and Gamble 31 years
- PG mission statement: “improving the lives of consumers”
- The most powerful way to market is friend-to-friend word of mouth: stories
- Social media does not equal digital media; #1 form of social media is face-to-face interaction (only 15% social media interaction is digital)
- Product Adoption curve: innovators --> early adopters --> early majority --> late majority --> laggards
- “Trend setter” pronoun is “I”. Once their idea is adopted, trend setters drop it.
- “Connectors”: very similar to regular consumers, they simply have a much larger social network (5-6 x larger than average peoples’). Connectors are “Trend Spreaders” – their pronoun is “we.”

- Word of Mouth: The Right Message
-- There is a message the consumer wants to HEAR (i.e. typically advertising
There is a message the consumer wants to SHARE
-- These two messages are always different
- Messages that consumers hear typically have 2 parts to them
Advocacy factors “Reasons to care”
Amplification factors “Reasons to share”
-- High Advocacy / High Amplification – High Word of Mouth potential
-- Low Advocacy / High Amplification – no effect on market share, waste of promotional funds (i.e. Office Max elf viral marketing, Budweiser “Wassup” commercial)
- People like to stay in psychological equilibrium; people talk if equilibrium is disrupted, talking helps return to equilibrium
- Consumers talk about brands for 2 reasons: 1) positively reflects on the consumer 2) consumer feels that he has something that will help someone else (altruism)
Brand Congruency: information presented on brand must be congruent with foundational truth most of the time and incongruent some of the time
-- Brand Foundational Truth --> Disruptive Equilibrium -->“Buzz Tactics”
- Take-Away:
Connectors need to be scaled in the market place
-- Messages need to be rooted in foundational truth of the brand most of the time and need to be related to disruptive equilibrium only some of the time
- Q&A
- Can check out to get a sense of screening questions that are asked of Connectors
- Measurement is very important
-- At Tremor, measure representative population to get measurements
- Connectors are not compensated monetarily

Jennifer Aaker’s Lecture:
- Critical Words (3 types; the exact words that you use)
-- Positive words: compel people forward
Neutral words
Negative words

- Q to class: What are the words that have traditionally been used with your pod/project?
-- Brainstorm other words you can use
-- In-class exercise: Write down 5 words that have traditionally been associated with your cause THEN reverse the words or use other more-positive words that you would like to be associated with your pod and cause. (i.e. on topic of privacy: “secretive” --> “selective”)
Metaphor Model:
-- If start to develop a set of metaphors around a business model then can get people on board faster, or at least engage them to a greater degree

- Keep in mind:
-- The words that you choose will be influenced by your pod members
-- Words mean different things when different people say them (i.e. some may say certain words in more authentic ways than others)

- GET Framework
- “Get Attention”
-- Aesthetics (that get attention i.e. bring green color, pleasant design)
-- Personal connection (i.e. joke, humor, something that resonates)
-- Surprise (“sticky ideas”)
- “Engage”
-- Fall in love (think in the context of our brands, pods)
- "Take action”
-- Emotional circumflex (?)
--- Negative emotions are highly motivating, but not as sticky or long-lasting as positive emotions are.
----> Fear
----> Anger
----> Guilt
--- Positive emotions also motivate, but do not drive action as much as negative emotions do. Compared to negative emotions, positive emotions are more sticky and long-lasting.
----> Empathy
----> Happiness
--- Powerful use of negative emotions in the right context is very important for your pod. This class is focused on getting others to take action, negative emotions are extremely effective at this.
--- The combined use of negative and positive words is very effective. For example, two words that are not aligned are at times very powerful (“i.e. peaceful energy”)

Friday is offsite, watch Casablanca
- Watch or read screenplay

Take Action Assignment (due this Wed 02/04 7pm):
- create some sort of action/message/ video/ etc that inspires people to take action.
-- For example: Do two things and write-up a one page that explains each item: 1) inspired people to take action b/c [look for metrics, use experimentation] and 2) another did not inspire people to take action b/c [look for metrics, use experimentation]
Keep in mind that this assignment is not limited to digital technology; just make sure to keep the right metrics in place.

Word of Mouth Spread - February 2nd Class

Hello everyone, here are my notes for today's class.

Today we had Steve Knox from Procter and Gamble’s Tremor division talk to us about Word of Mouth Advocacy over conference call. Steve has worked there for 31 years and ran Tremor for 8 years. Tremor is the world’s largest consumer research division in the world.

There is a misperception about where social word of mouth is taking place.

Actually, only 15% of conversations are happening digitally (digital is a small portion of social media), 85% of conversations are conversations, phone calls etc. I found this to be an eye opening statistic as I believed most conversations now happen over text, emails, and online websites such as Facebook. This made me realize that for our group projects, we need to do more than just set up Facebook groups, or send out emails.

Steve also talked about the product adoption curve which shows different groups of users ranging from innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards. P&G targets “Connectors” (10%-15% of consumers) who are trend spreaders which is different from trend setters. Spreaders tend to use the keyword “we” and setters use “I”. A connector talks to 20 to 25 people daily vs. 5 people on average.

You can identify connectors through research in usage behaviors, and demographics.

There is also a difference between the messages consumer wants to hear vs. share. These two are ALWAYS different.

Buzz Marketing (amplification without advocacy) does not drive business results. Advocacy (need to use) vs. Amplification (easy to talk about) and you need advocacy to have effective advertising.

So when do we share ideas? When there is a “disruptive equilibrium” (this razor is so good, I don’t need lotion – Venus Breeze). Consumers talk about brands two reasons:

1. It’s cool

2. I have information that can help you

To spread word of mouth advocacy, Brand Foundational Truth, Disruptive Equilibrium and Buzz Tactics must all be connected.

For more please visit: or

Next, we talked about word associations and how we can redefine “negative” words associated with our cause. An example would be changing the word “death” to “end of life” or “peaceful journey”.

Strategically, this allows people to freely spread ideas and be more comfortable listening and talking about subjects which may make some feel guilty.

Most people who want to “do something” are associated with anger. Fear, Anger, Guilt, Empathy, or Happiness are drivers for action (in that order).

Rest of the class, we met with our PODs for PET Labs to discuss how we can encourage action and word of mouth spread for our causes.

Falling in Love – Class January 23rd

(Hi all - I finally figured out how to post! Yes, I am that naive about social technology. Apologies for this going up so late!)

“Losing control. Emotions take over, and you have to go along with it.”

“Everything else falls away.”

“You feel like you have the strength to do anything, no barriers can get in your way.”
“You can’t imagine life without that person.”
“It’s losing yourself. It’s not a moment, it’s a whole nebulous thing in here. You lose yourself.”
“Total inability to express in words.”

These are just a few of the snippets I wrote down as people in class answered the question, “What does falling in love mean to you?” (who thought we would ever be quasi-cold-called to answer this question in a GSB class?). In Friday’s class, we talked about what it means to get people to truly engage with your cause or idea . . . how do you get people to “fall in love” with it? In the grab attention, engage, and take action framework, engaging requires that your idea becomes personally meaningful to your audience. It evokes emotion. When people are personally captivated by your cause, they are excited enough to share it with others and use their own networks to draw a wider circle of people to your cause.

“You don’t see any of the negatives.”
“Scary. Vulnerable.”

We also discussed the importance of authenticity when you are asking people to engage. If you are successful in grabbing attention and enticing people to become personally vested in your cause, the consequences of disappointing these people are significant. It can be dangerous to get people excited about an idea that isn’t authentic, or with promises that cannot be met. (I like to think about this in terms of having a hook - it’s great to have sexy hook that grabs attention, but if your hook isn’t attached to a fish, then you will quickly lose the affinity of your audience.). We talked about the Dove self-esteem campaign and how social technology can play a role in keeping companies (like Dove’s parent company, Unilever) and individuals honest.

“The process is different between falling in love and being in love.”
“You just feel really happy with that person. Pure and calm.”
“Nervous energy combined with a calming, grounding feeling.”

Once you have people engaged, another piece of getting people to stay in love with your cause is to listen. What do people want? What do they care about? What does this issue mean to them? How do you acknowledge peoples’ voices so that they can continue to believe in your idea and remain personally engaged? Jennifer shared a great tidbit about how simply acknowledging what you have heard from others and confirming their feelings can defuse anger and calm them down. This leaves room for people to problem-solve on their own.

“It’s like a pot of bubbling water with the lid on.”
“Intrigued. You want to learn more, go deeper.”
“You start to think bigger than yourself.”

I think a key to getting people to both fall in love and stay in love with your issue is to make sure you have a quick 1-2-3 punch with grabbing attention, engaging, and taking action. After they have turned their attention to your cause, people need a way to immediately connect to your idea in a personally meaningful way (it’s interesting, but why does it matter to them?). And once you’ve drawn them in, then you have to think about how and when to continue to keep them engaged. This naturally leads to the need to provide ways that people can turn their new energy around your topic into taking action.