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.