Six Pixels of Separation – A Book About Real Connections


I’m probably one of the few people that still purchases books from an actual book store. Of course, don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon as much as the next person, but I thoroughly enjoy a leisurely afternoon or lunch hour walking around a book store sipping a cup of coffee.  During one of these beloved lunch hours several months ago, I stepped into Borders and came across Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel. What caught my attention was the title.  I had been diligently working with my boss on how to explain social media to a group of folks with little to no experience with it – or so they thought.  He had just proposed using the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to explain it.  Fun Fact: there is a gentleman at our company that is 5 degrees from Kevin Bacon.  Therefore, anyone that knows this one guy is Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon. Pretty cool, huh?  This really helped explain the connections we make and how social media makes those connections even easier.  During a presentation on this, I could see the light bulbs go off as the group began understanding what social media is all about with a little help from Kevin Bacon.  So even though I hadn’t previously heard of the Twist Image blog or of Mitch Joel, I knew instantly what this book must be about and couldn’t help but pick it up.  The biggest take-away I got from this book is an understanding of how these connections operate best and how that will inevitably affect your business.  Mitch does a phenomenal job explaining how you can immediately start making your connections even better.

Taking it slow
Social and digital media are hot topics right now. Inevitably everyone with any business objectives whatsoever is jumping to tap into this mighty online force, and if they aren’t, they are falling far behind.  We’ve all seen the videos and heard the stories about how the online community has skyrocketed sales for a company or spread the word about any and everything within seconds. What we most often don’t hear are the stories about slowing growth your online community, taking steps to really reach out to customers and connect with them.  Doing things fast, reacting quickly are definite staples in the online community.  However, taking things slow, realizing that your content will live on for a very long time is just as important.  It really set in when Mitch threw out this little stat on page 32,   “Over half of all traffic to Wired magazine’s website,, is to the archive.”  He then goes on to say, “The older the content, the longer it has been online and searchable through the engines, the more people who have linked to it, shared it, and tagged it, the more valuable it is.”  The real value of digital connections comes with age.  We must be ready and willing to put the time in to grow and keep cultivating that community.

Adding value and giving things away
Mitch points out that Google is working through a ‘Faith-Based Initiative’ by giving free products away to help you so that you become more loyal to them and likely to spend money with them.  This is one of the most difficult initiatives to explain to those in business because we don’t operate that way in business.  We buy and sell things – we don’t give them away.  But what if you buy and sell things that someone else does for about the same price?  What makes you any different and how can you be sure to bring people into your business over another?  What if you both have great customer service, friendly associates, and a respectable company?  Then you have to go that extra step of being awesome – start giving stuff away.  But not just anything, you have to give away something of real value to your customers.  Before you can even do that, you’ve got to really know your customers, know their issues, know their struggles, and then swoop in to make it all a little bit easier for them.  They’ll likely thank you for it (whether they say it online or not or even out loud) and probably remember that next time their out to spend a little money.  We think now more than ever about how and where we spend our money. 

Recognizing people who talk about you and thanking them
Immediately after I read the chapter on ‘The Trust Economy’, I went to Twitter and found the blogs where people were talking about my company and thanked them for it.  Mitch talks about treating your online conversations as private “even if, in reality, there’s nothing that could be more public about it.” People are talking about you, but what are you doing when they talk? Are you just RTing something awesome that they said, or are you sending them a reply of thanks and gratitude for going out of their way to do it?  Just when someone says something nice about you right in front of you, taking a humble position of thankfulness is the right thing to do. So why not do it when people say stuff to their friends about you?

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Six Pixels of Separation.  Aside from being filled with great words of advice, Mitch talks like a real person, as though you are reading this straight from his blog.  I enjoy reading things you can tell were a joy for another person to write.  If you would like another person’s opinion on his book, you can also check out Jason Falls’ interview with Mitch Joel.


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