Network Effects: Advice for TJ’s and Any Organization

You know the routine. Get up. Walk and feed the dog. Make tea. Check email. And there is a note that David Armano is following me on Twitter. Being the half brain for names that I am, I say, “hm, I know that name” and click in to follow back. Then I click into some of the links in his tweets and find my  way to his blog and this great post. Logic+Emotion: The Best Little Ad Trader Joe’s Never Made

First, the embedded YouTube video – a customers video of “if I made an ad for Trader Joe’s” is amazing. (Dear readers outside of some parts of the US, Trader Joe’s – or TJ’s as we know it – is a very successful grocer that plays by its own rules. Intentionally quirky? ) I’m embedding the video because first, it is a fabulous piece of work by the creator, and second, David’s point about the video carry weight for any organization – even my colleagues and clients in international development.  Over 257,000 views of this video in just three weeks. 

Here’s the video:

Here are some snippets from David – click in to read his specific advice:

There are close to 100 comments on the video and over 33,000 views of the video. Track all mentions and embeds of the video and listen to how people are responding to it…

The video is mostly complimentary but shows Trader Joe’s warts and all… Remember, a brand isn’t what you say it is—it’s what they say it is. What can Trader Joe’s Learn if anything?

Use the video as fodder to figure out how your orginzation will respond to these types of inevitable situations…

Engage your customers in the comments…. Then go back to listening—lather, rinse and repeat.

I heart Trader Joe’s. And this video. It’s catchy as hell and one of the best advertisements they never made.

I am getting ready to co-facilitate a short online workshop on social media for communications managers of a large international network of research centers. I am going to link to the TJ’s video and David’s blog. This idea of listening may not seem as relevant to a research center whose most numerous constituents are poor people who are very much NOT online. But a smaller, strategic constituency is more and more online: funders and policy makers. And future brilliant researchers they want to attract. And influentials they want in their court as they undergo their own evolution forward in a changing world. These centers  can listen, tell their own story, ask their constituents to tell their stories. It’s not the same as TJ’s, but the potential of the network effect is the same. And it matters.

We know not every non profit is going to make a clever video. But one of their constituents just might share something that gets to the heart of the matter, especially if they inspire the kind of love Carl feels for TJs, even with his criticisms. After all, we take advice better from our friends we know love us. They tell us if we have brocolli in their teeth!

Two more things. Read more of David’s blog. He gets the visual thing, the network thing and the friend thing. And I remembered now, how I know of David. Of course – through my network – via Beth Kanter. Small world, eh? That old network effect. It is real. Powerful. Ignore it at your own risk.


P.S. Also check out David’s visual graphic on Twitter.

Hot List from the Communities & Networks Connection

Rachel's Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies from cc Flickr photoLast week Tony Karrer and I launched the Communities and Network Connection, a place to bring together and surface good stuff about communities, networks and all the juicy stuff around them. Tony continues to tweak the code behind it and one of the outputs is a hot list of the posts that got the most “social juice.” Tony explains how it works for one of the other aggregated sites he stewards, the eLearning Technology site.  Check out Hot List : eLearning Technology

Tony explains: 

In other words, we are using what is happening:

  • with the content out in the network
  • on the eLearning Learning
  • searches that land on us and that occur on the site,
  • and various other kinds of behaviors.

Together these social signals indicate that the content is likely of higher quality (or at least of higher interest). Thus it belongs in both a best of list and a hot list. This is going to take some work to get it right, but we believe it will help to highlight various hot list content.

We are particularly excited that this capability will soon allow us to have a weekly post that highlights hot list for the week. This will be something like:


  1. Branding in the age of social media
  2. Clay Shirky: nonprofits must become new-style convenors – or lose their members
  3. Assessing the health of a community of practice using net promoter score
  4. Mathemagenic ” PhD conclusions in a thousand words: blogging practices of knowledge workers
  5. From Command and Control to Collaboration and Teamwork – Preparing Business Leaders for the Knowledge Economy
  6. Knowledge Retention will no longer be an explicit strategy
  7. Co-operatives: The Feeling is Mutual
  8. Avoid Profile Potpourri
  9. MicroGuilds Musings on Scrum and Team Integration
  10. Digital Habitats: stewarding technology for communities

 Other Items:

  1.  Online Community Success and ROI | Will Pate’s Blog
  2. Facebook | Community Manager, Advocate, and Evangelist
  3. Facebook | Should Brands Join or Build Their Own Social Network


Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies photo by rachel is coconut&lime