Books I Read #4. Grouped by Paul Adams

Paul Adams, Grouped

The power of friends and small networks.

Despite all  the leaps in technology we are still complex social creatures and an solid in-depth understanding of psychology rather than technology will define the winners in marketing and business.  Paul Adam’s book ‘Grouped’ is a surprisingly short read (it took me two afternoons and I am a slow reader) but its insights are based upon a lifetime of research as evidenced in the long reference lists.  He debunks certain commonly held truths (the primacy of the ‘online influencer’) and also gives a succinct analysis of human behaviour.  I studied psychology in college and really enjoyed the pragmatic, if possibly selective nature of the why we do certain things.

Paul works for Facebook and previously Google so sometimes the books feels initially like an justification of why certain services are so good for business but rapidly it become clear that the online functions we see and accept on these platforms are based upon a deep understanding of anthropology, psychology and human interaction.  A ‘like’ feels like such a frivolous thing until you start to think about permission marketing and changing attitudes.

Some of his takeaways are:

  • The web is being rebuilt around people and the social web is here to stay.  Those who can market to connected groups of friends will win.
  • Our immediate networks are small but those closest to us have a disproportionate impact on us.
  • The impact of influencers is overrated in spreading ideas over the structure of networks.
  • Our non conscious brain drives most decisions, emotion carry more weight and we look for things that match our beliefs.
  • Information overload will increase emphasis and reliance on friends for evaluation, decisions and information.

The light presentation of conclusion makes this book seem like common sense but its only as a glance back through the pages that I get the deeper meaning and significance of his points.

A lot of work went into making it this simple.

On a complete aside Dublin does get a few mentions and its interesting to seem Jameson Irish Whiskey mentioned a few times as a case study.

You can see more about the author here.


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