Book review: Grouped, by Paul Adams

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Grouped is a brilliant book, which you need to read immediately.

Written by Paul Adams, a researcher at Facebook, it’s the most lucid and useful thing I have read for marketing and media people on the subject of social networks yet.

Everything else that has been a major inspiration for me and the Brilliant Noise team – for instance, Linked, Connected and Everything is Obvious – has been noted and referenced within this concise and practical tome.

I first became aware of Paul’s work when he was working at Google and published a great study called The Real Life Social Network which explained why social networks weren’t designed around people’s actual social networks (since then Google has launched Google+, which used the Circles feature to answer this need, and Facebook has developed its friend list features further).

Grouped brings together some of these ideas and adds a great deal of depth, effectively collating and structuring a mass of academic research on social media, networks and influence more broadly.

First off the reader is given a briefing on how social networks work. We then get taken through how influence works in social networks.

The book is superbly structured, thought out with a clear UX sensibility: summaries, recommended actions and suggested further reading are neatly packaged in each section.

It’s a clever approach, which makes it feel much more like a platform for developing your marketing or business strategy and building a broader understanding, than a traditional business book.

Basically, this book works for a living and resists the urge to harangue, grandstand or show off. It’s a short book, and unashamedly so – rather than pad itself out, Grouped achieves what it set out to do and then gets out of the way.

To get more of a sense of the content, have a look at this talk Paul gave at UX Week in September:

We’ll be blogging more about this book in the next few days – it’s sparked a whole load of ideas and debate in the Brilliant Noise office – but for now… just get a copy.