Book Review: Six Pixels Of Separation

Six Pixels of Separation bookAs I mentioned recently, I’ve been working my way through the book/audiobook of Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixels of Separation for a while now. Well, I’ve finally finished it… here’s my take…

The Good

  • Well-written – Six Pixels of Separation is written in Mitch’s usual friendly, candid style. Though the 270+ pages of content took me a while to get through, it certainly wasn’t because it was a hard read.
  • Well-targeted – social media is reaching a point where small businesses can effectively use it to build a presence online. There are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to go about it. This book aims at them, and keeps its beady eye on that audience throughout.
  • Good background – throughout the book, Mitch makes reference to the ways that traditional marketing works, and the ways social media marketing differs from that. It’s a useful perspective for people new to the field.
  • Good primer – Mitch takes his readers on a well-constructed tour through most of the basic elements of social media marketing. If you’re new to this stuff, it’s a great primer. If you’re a recent convert, it’s a good reminder.

The Not So Good

  • Nothing new – Take this one with a pinch of salt as I’m not the target. Whether it’s Join the Conversation or even back to ClueTrain, this book adds little that hasn’t been said before.
  • Same people – listen to Media Hacks or to Mitch’s podcast? You’ll have heard either directly from or about most of the people mentioned in this book.
  • Not so practical – this book is all about “why,” not “how.” If you’re looking for the “how” of social media, look elsewhere.

The Take-Aways

  • Nowadays, everyone researches things online. When they do that, you want them to find as much good content about you as possible.
  • Control is a myth. If you matter to people then they are talking about you, whether you know about it or not and whether you like it or not. The only choice is whether you participate.
  • Content is king.
  • Social media lets you choose and define your own niche, and own it.
  • Mobile marketing is emerging as a powerful channel.

Who should buy this book

Not you.

This book is targeted at small business owners who are still searching for the “why” of social media. If you’re reading this site, you’re probably beyond the “why” and into the “how.” You won’t learn much new from this book.


(See what I did there?)

If you’re into social media or the evolution of marketing, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Unlike some other books out there, it’s not a string of blog posts strung together but a well written, cohesive book that flows well. So, if you’re looking for something to reinforce your general thoughts on social media, this is a good start.

The Conclusion

Most of the criticisms above are based on my prior knowledge – I live and work in this space and I either know or know of almost everyone mentioned in the book, so I’m clearly not the in the sweet spot. This book just isn’t targeted at me.

Despite those minor criticisms, though, I really enjoyed this book – enough that I was willing to pay for the audiobook as well as the hard-back copy. It’s easy to absorb, easy to understand and hard to put down. I’d happily recommend it to a small or medium-sized business owner looking to learn more about this space.

There’s my brief take. Have you read Mitch’s book? What did you think?

19 Responses toBook Review: Six Pixels Of Separation

  • Gary in Toronto
    ago11 years

    Will this book help you sell social media to laggards within your organization?

    I am in a similar position as you but struggling to make the case for a move to social media from more traditional PR.

    • Hi Gary – the book is more focused on marketing as opposed to public relations, but for the right-sized organization certainly makes a good case for the potential of social media.

  • Thanks for the review. I recently finished the book and while there wasn’t a lot of new data for me to learn, as an individual who is involved in social media it opened me up to new ways of thinking. That alone it was worth it.

  • Dave,
    Good review – haven’t read the book, but it’s been on my short list for a while. I’m curious, though – based on your review it seems that, while well-written and top-down informative, Mitch is recycling a lot of shared knowledge. I’ve seen this as a trend among many authors, bloggers, podcasters, etc. At what point does this trend cease? There reached a certain point in the 90’s where everyone said, “ok, we get it – websites are important” and they moved past the why. When do you see us reaching that point with social media, where the importance is conceded, or rather mutually agreed upon, and the logistical and strategic utility is explored more deeply?

    • Hi Pat-

      What a great point and question you bring forward. Here are some thoughts for your consideration.

      On repetition- You can say the same thing to 10 people and they’ll hear 10 different messages, just ask the local preacher! The point is this, iterate until…there is understanding. As a cycle, typically ideas are generated, early adoptors take hold, education and dissemination become more broad based, the good ideas take hold and are broadly subscribed to. I think we are still in that phase of education and dissemination, thus, much repetition going on to reach out to a broader audience and foster the process of understanding.

      On “we get it”- What was the point of ‘we get it’ in the 90’s? Remembering back, those websites were pretty much simple brochure style offerings for the most part. (amazing that so many sites are still basically brochure type stuff!) So what did they do for business? Could it be argued that they opened up a new door for business that was very cost effective? Similarly, I think we need to keep pounding away all points of value for SM because ultimately the success will be in our ability to effectively demonstrate ROI to the DM’s.

      On strategy and logistics- Look to thought leaders. This is an incredibly dynamic space and there are ideas being tried and circulated. Keep reading, implementing, commenting, talking etc…keep the conversation alive, because, no doubt, we can make this really great…

      We’re at the edge of the future!


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