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on December 16, 2011
I consider "Grouped" a must-read for people interested in learning about social media and its expanding influence on marketing and advertising.

Author Paul Adams is a social media domain expert who, as a Google employee, pioneered some of the concepts now embodied in Google+, and created a broadly influential presentation, "The Real Life Social Network" ([...]), that was viewed more than one million times (between two versions) as of December, 2011. Having also worked at Facebook since early 2011, Adams is uniquely well-positioned to understand and explain social web dynamics and their significance for relationship-centric business.

"Grouped" is an unusually ambitious book, only approximately 160 pages long, but deftly integrating themes from books such as "Connected" (Christakis/Fowler), "Incognito" (Eagleman), and "Thinking, Fast and Slow" (Kahneman) into a compelling narrative. In addition to addressing topics such as how our relationships and brains influence us, "Grouped" also clearly explains social web implications for marketing and advertising.

The book is likely to be an eye-opener for anyone exploring social media, and it also provides insights into how exceptionally well-positioned Facebook is today, in terms of its potential for advancing the state-of-the-art in marketing and advertising.
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on December 10, 2011
I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Adams at a marketing conference earlier this year, where he gave a stirring lecture on the social web. Within a few minutes, the crowd was mesmerized and his talk was the highlight of the day. He delivered a clear message that there was promise for marketers in social, and to be successful, there were some key principles to adhere to. Ever since then, I've been thinking about how to create content and experience that really means something to the people we're trying to reach.

Adams expands on his thinking in Grouped. His approach is thoughtful and purposeful leaving the reader with a framework of how to approach social marketing. Unlike a lot of other self-styled experts in the field, Adams grounds his ideas in research, not 140 character sound bites or meaningless industry jargon. The content gets to the point quickly -- beginning with how the internet itself is shifting from content to relationships to the basis of relationships. Adams then builds his case for how how only close friends truly have an impact on our decision making process, while weaker relationships can broaden our horizons of information. He goes on to debunk a number of myths about influencers, instead suggests ideas get spread through a combination of "innovative" and "follower" hubs. This is an important distinction to make because spreading of ideas isn't merely a one-step process. It is a combination of art and science that requires more than people with large followings. The last parts of the book go deep on the impacts our own physiology and environment have with respect to our information-processing and thus decision making abilities. (hint: we do a lot of unconscious processing). At the end, he wraps up permission marketing and how it is the gateway to creating trust, credibility and ultimately loyalty.

Some books are quick reads if they're well-written and make you want to keep flipping pages. Grouped had a slightly different effect on me. I anticipated reading each chapter, but the more I read, the more I found myself pausing and thinking about what relationships I had, why I had them and how my own network influences my decisions. I would say I got as much out of reading the book as I did with the self-reflection one goes through when applying the thinking. And that's where the beauty lies in Adams' writing; by creating content that is compelling and relevant to the reader, he's practicing what he preaches. His writing is clear and concise -- just as he is in person -- making concepts easy to digest. He also couples theory with quick tips from his work at Facebook, making his points are more credible and practical. At the end of each chapter, he includes a summary and a further reading section that act as informal footnotes that encourage the reader to dive deeper.

Whenever I'm reading a book I really like, I often slow down towards the end, to savor each page before reaching the end. Grouped was no different, with one exception -- It made me want to go out and apply his thinking at work. It's at a level where most practitioners of social media can grasp conceptually and has relevance for strategists looking to make social the core of their company's offerings. Highly recommended.
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We live in a world of exponentially increasing information which we can't consume anymore. Consequently, we gradually increase our reliance on our social networks to make decisions. In other words, people spend less time interacting with content, and more time communicating with other people.

What role do the social networks, and especially Facebook and Linkedin play in this transformation? How can we leverage them to grow our business?

Paul combines product design experience at Google and Facebook with an outstanding skill to lay out complex topics in a simple and easily understandable language. That unique combination of experience and skill ideally positions him to write a book about social networks and about the best ways to use them for business growth.

He makes three key points that have profound implications:

1. The Web is being rebuilt around people and moving away from being built around content.
2. We can now measure social interaction.
3. Independent small groups of friends determine how people are influenced (not the influencers).

The application of Paul's points to marketing and advertising are straightforward: Permission-based marketing trumps traditional advertising or interruption-driven marketing. Precise peer-to-peer based advertising is the most effective and efficient advertising. Marketing campaigns need to support conversations instead of merely sharing content. Advertising content must rely on people remembering relationships and not - details. For example, using experts in marketing campaigns can lead to over-promising and under-delivering.

On the other hand, effective permission marketing seeds multiple groups with ideas and avoids targeting a few trendsetters. It focuses on emotional arousal and gaining trust through word-of-mouth endorsement. Marketers need to focus on preparing content that is "shareworthy," customizing data around people's social connections, reinforcing their message by having multiple people within the same group repeat it, and then showing others' behaviour to influence people.

A separate chapter focuses on helping people change their behaviour:

1. Change people environment: trying new things in a new environment is easier
2. Minimize cost of change - break it into small manageable tasks making the new behaviour easier to perform, and so more likely to be repeated and therefore forming a new habit.
3. Ensure that people observe others doing the desired behaviour and then see the rewards

Other ideas focus around choice reduction and helping people to feel that they are getting something for free and now.

All-in-all, a great and concise book for marketing professionals and business owners looking for modern ways to grow their business.
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on February 3, 2012
Grouped, by Paul Adams is an easy, interesting, worthwhile read. Essentially, it talks about the social web and how people are influenced in today's constantly connected world. You'll feel smarter after reading it, but you don't need a PhD to understand it. Paul's done a great job of distilling and simplifying copious amounts of PhD-worthy research for the masses.

If what you do relates to marketing in any way, you'll appreciate the ideas Paul puts forward. Even if you're not, you'll learn enough to make it worth your while and it'll make you see many things in a different light. For example, where you may not have realised an online interaction is actually influencing your behaviour in the past, you'll sure as hell notice once you've finished the book. Our emotions and subconscious play a much bigger part in our seemingly logical decisions than we realise.

The best ideas are the ones that are easy to understand and seem obvious, except they didn't occur to you until now. For example, the fact we work hard to conform to social norms, observe how others react to understand what is acceptable thus shaping our behaviour seems obvious. But we don't consciously realise that's how we tend to behave. We apparently also communicate with the same 5 to 10 people most of the time, but it's not something I realised until I thought about it. I'm not doing the content justice in my paraphrasing, so you're better off reading the book than trying to gain any useful insights here.

The book is well researched, has a nice selection of case studies and examples, and best of all, doesn't take long to read. I should point out a lot of the examples are from Paul's experiences at Facebook, but I don't think he means for the book to be a big advertisement for the Facebook platform. He simply used the relevant data he had access to given his position at the company.

Then again, the fact I'm being positive about this book could be because we generally don't want to appear to be negative in public, especially when doing so in a non-anonymous manner. Perhaps I've been Jedi Mind Tricked into this way of thinking by Mr Adams.
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on December 13, 2011
I really liked this book and I recommend it. It is a short but powerful first step in converting marketers everywhere to a more enlightened social understanding. What I learned through GROUPED will impact my work immediately and for years to come. Bravo! I'm already looking forward to more from Paul Adams. He's a beacon of insight for marketers who want to succeed by building connections on the "people-based" social web.

The book is small: only 160 pages including title pages, credits, and index. I read it completely and even revisited a couple sections over two nights before bed and a flight from LA to Houston. So don't use time as an excuse. You have the time to read this. In fact, I think it is professionally irresponsible for marketers to NOT read it.

I liked the first half of the book best. The first half focused more specifically on the social web, The second half got into human behavior and how our brains work. I've seen much of that research before so it was more review for me than enlightenment. I see the value of it though. Sharing it together with the earlier observations makes sense.
The third topic featured (small, independent, connected groups) is the MOST IMPORTANT one. It's kind of referenced throughout the book. If you're searching for influencers to carry your message, you're on a fool's quest. There are no influencers. There are only small, independent, connected groups. If you buy this as a marketer (and I do).... How will you change your messaging? How should you change your campaigns? Can you effect a real change from interruption marketing to marketing that creates and guides conversation among small, diverse, connected groups? This is the urgent challenge. This is the immediate opportunity.

GROUPED is about sharing research. It is light on solutions. It focuses on simply describing what is happening and providing context for why it is happening. The solutions that are suggested aren't so much "solutions" as they are conversation starters. I think that's perfect.... Starting the conversation with research based insights is fantastic. We are at the dawn of this transformation to a web built around people. It's gonna be awesome.

P.S. This book would be worth the price if you bought it simply for the extensive footnotes in the "Further Reading" sections. So many great citations. I cannot wait to dig into the detail on some of them...
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on December 21, 2011
I've been working in technology marketing for over ten years and this is the business book I've been waiting for. Paul Adams does a tremendous job of cataloging, synthesizing, and summarizing volumes of social science research of the last decade. Grouped has new examples and new analysis based on current research proving our online social behavior will eventually mirror/replicate our offline social behaviors. If you are doing product development or marketing for today's global and social consumers, you have to have these new tools and skills to succeed. I will be using Grouped as a marketing practitioners guide to understanding consumer behaviors and purchasing decisions. The book is organized such that it is simple to re-read, re-reference, and re-visit for future projects, challenges, and debates. Our online world is being redesigned and reconstructed around users as individual people as well as our many groups of friends, family, and colleagues. This is the social web and it will redefine the internet. If your business is not organized to take advantage of this new social world, it will be passed by competitors sooner rather than later.
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on October 7, 2014
Informative and helpful read on navigating your world in selling whatever your selling in social media marketing. Because in a world of too much information, people turn to their friends to help them make their purchasing decisions. Now the trick is getting all those Facebook "friends" and twitter "followers" to convert and be your disciples of commerce. "Grouped" - is a great book to start on how to figure that process out and will get you on your way!
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on March 4, 2012
"Grouped" is not another manual on how to behave online social networks. Not just another book trying to explain the best practices in social media. "Grouped" focuses on issues related to the behavior of the people who matter to understand and leverage social networks. It is mainly an exciting approach to the heuristic rules that explain how to establish the relationships between people, how to strengthen relationships and trust zones in groups and communities, the reasons for the rules that explain our behavior and the principles on the basis of human sociality. The main achievement of the book is to bring all these issues in a rigorous and entertaining way, making it all understandable for everyone and analyzing concepts and theories that are not commonly used. Digital technologies create new spaces of social practice. Exploiting these spaces is of great interest. "Grouped" has the answers to all questions about these topics and also generates new challenges that are called to set the tone for the design of future online social spaces.
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on January 21, 2012
Social media have transformed the way in which people connect, learn and communicate. Its effects cannot be undone, and will continue to rock our world. In this book, Paul Adams outlines a unique understanding of what's happening on the web, and how influence, trust, credibility and ultimately, loyalty, are created. His work is grounded in research, and each part of the book is concise, getting to the point quickly.

Paul provides a solid framework of how to approach social marketing. If you are a marketing practitioner or are at all curious about how technology and 'connectedness' is changing our world, Grouped is a must-read. It is a short book, no longer than it needs to be. Grouped achieves what it set out to do and then gets out of the way and will leave you with an invaluable and concrete understanding of social networks and the web.
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on March 15, 2013
Grouped provides a very good overview of social groups and how they influence individual behaviours. It is worth reading for this alone. However any reader just needs to be aware that (a) it is very much written through the lens of Facebook - lots of examples, sometimes not at all relevant to the point being made, of how well Facebook reflects how people behave in groups, and (b) there is surprisingly little (anything?) said about social behaviour in a work context, neither the social influence of colleagues or how a work setting influences individuals is covered. This is a peculiar oversight.

Overall I would view this as a promotional tool for Facebook but useful nonetheless.
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