Book Review: Grouped

Paul Adams is an insightful guy. I was wowed by his early thoughts on online social networks from back when he was trying to plug his ideas at Google.

So I've been waiting to read (and just finished) his recent book "Grouped", and a brain dump of that if you're curious.

It is a fast read, and feels a lot like an "Elements of Style" for online social marketing. There isn't much discourse on theory, rather a list of expanded bullet points on what goes on in online networks, with a focus on marketing. The list of references at the end of each topic is excellent, and worth pursuing.

Should you read it? Whether or not you choose to read this book, here's his perspective:

[To stay relevant] a new knowledge set is required [for] designers, marketers, developers and advertisers: social behavior, networks, and how people think.

The book distills his thoughts on these topics into self-contained chapters, and coming from a guy who's probably had as many scars here as anyone else, it'll be a useful reference for a practitioner to spark ideas and avoid some mistakes.

However, the underlying ideas are things that he's been thinking and talking about for a while, and you can get the general flavor from a video of one of his recent talks if you prefer.

Some of the homilies that stayed with me:

1. The social web is not merely a buzz. It will gradually become what we think of as just "the web."

2. Think of the social web like electricity -- you don't have an "electricity experience" in a product, it invisibly drives everything and you just use it.

3. Center your products around people, not the technology or even the content. Or somebody else will, and eat your lunch to boot. (The video above has a example about Facebook photos and why it grew, interesting perspective for any 'fish readers. Also interesting examples from Etsy, nytimes and so on.)

4. The myth of the highly influential few. Highly connected does not mean highly influential. He points out the situation in social groups is more nuanced -- basically a rebuttal to the tipping point thesis as applied to social marketing.