Did you know that a negative online product review actually has a higher correlation to a product sale than a positive one? Or that a full 20% of Google searches are for terms that were never searched previously?
Were you aware that members of an online community tend to remain loyal to a business about 50% longer than non-members do? Or that only about 2% of the people online actually leave comments about other content?
These are just a few of the interesting facts I found in Mitch Joel’s book Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone (Hachette, 2009).
Because of my own occupation as a business author, I read a lot of good non-fiction books in a variety of fields, including business (of course), economics, science, technology, social media, philosophy, biography, and psychology. I believe good business management requires well-read business managers, so I’ve decided that on Fridays I will post a “Friday Book Share” on LinkedIn, with a quick summary and perspective on a book I’ve read thoroughly myself. These posts will be longer than most of my other posts, because you can’t really do a good book justice in 500 words (although I will try to keep each of them as short as possible while still sharing the best learnings).
Mitch Joel is an experienced marketer. Past chairman of the Canadian Marketing Association, he's now president of a savvy digital agency in Toronto called Twist Image. The central theme of this book on social media strategy has to do with the increasing importance of “community” in defining both our economic system and the competitive landscape of business. It is this feeling of community that empowers individuals to build their own personal brands, and lets companies harness the power of sharing – among their employees, their customers, and other members of their own ecosystems. And the force that is driving the increasing power of community is the rising interconnectedness we all share, technologically, particularly because of social media. Naturally, Joel’s book was a “must read” for us when Martha Rogers and I wrote our own book (our ninth together), Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage, and we reference his work several times.
As a former music industry entrepreneur, Joel starts his tale with a story of how the alternative rock group Radiohead released its seventh album, In Rainbows. Rather than using a record label to produce a slick CD, they launched their 15-song album in an online, downloadable format from their own Web site. And (the reason for the story) Radiohead said they would specify no price for the album. No price at all. Each buyer would be free to make his or her own decision about how much their music was worth. Radiohead's instructions on how much to pay: "It's up to you."
Joel says the band's message to their fans was that even though they know that anyone can easily steal the music with an illegal download, “if you really like us, give us whatever you feel is right. We trust that you will do the right thing.” It's a seminal story that sets the stage for what Joel calls “The Trust Economy,” which is how a sense of community manifests itself in the commercial world. (In the end, Radiohead generated more than a million downloads and about $2 million in digital income, and their initiative was soon imitated by other performers and groups.)
Joel infuses his book with loads of sound advice. Trying to build trust in order to participate in the “trust economy”? Then pay attention to these principles:
Want to build your own personal brand? Then:
Looking for guidelines on how to run a healthy blog, or how to manage other online content? Then:
Six Pixels was published in 2009, and in Internet Years that makes it ancient, and a few of the online tools Joel references are now no longer available, like Facebook Lexicon and Technorati Watchlists. But this is the only age-related weakness of the book. In all other respects, Six Pixels of Separation is chock full of relevant, timeless advice for managing your business today. Worth the read, IMHO.