How small groups of friends are the key to influence on the social web

GroupedI didn’t come up with this title, Paul Adams did. In 2011, he wrote a book named Grouped: How small groups of friends are the key to influence on the social web (Voices That Matter) explaining how the web, which is celebrating its 25th birthday, is undergoing a fundamental change and catching up with offline life. Paul is an ex social research team at Google, ex Global Brand Experience Manager at Facebook and now VP product at where he helps to create the best way for web businesses to communicate with their customers. In his book, he synthesized fascinating academic research papers from leading universities to describe how people are connected, brand messages spread through social networks and, ultimately, provides guidance to build a business around social behavior.

If you are not familiar with those concepts, I highly recommend this book that will help you to dip into this universe, even though it was published in 2011. I found the book a fantastic read since it is backed with deep academic research which, I admit, I enjoy a lot. Don’t worry, the book is well written and very accessible; you don’t need a PhD to understand it.

Under the assumption that the web is being redesigned around people and their relationships (and not content anymore), Paul takes a scientific approach by looking at the way the brain works in terms of how we make decisions, what is happening in the brain and how it is structured. If we look at the past 15 years, the web has been driven by technologies (e.g. chips, conducting polymers, batteries) which have led to revolutionary consumer products (who would have thought about the iPhone just 10 years ago?). Bright people keep innovating at faster pace but our behavior needs time to catch up with these technologies. This is a two-speed evolution and to align them, marketers must understand that we are mainly driven by our emotional nonconscious brain (versus rational thinking).

So in his book, Paul insists on focusing on people instead on technology; on connected people (ie. groups) instead of influential people. Those are new cost-effective assumptions on which marketers must build their strategies. The web is much more than an experimental playground for web entrepreneurs. It is now fulfilling its intended role: being a reflection of the offline world

If your company is looking for modern ways to grow your business using social media, read this book as soon as possible to learn scientific-based discoveries and understand the profound changes at play.

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