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on 29 March 2012
This is probably the first book I have read when I was glad to stop reading it. Let me clarify that:

I read books like this during my lunch at work, as it provides a welcome break from the office and a chance to muse over some psychology and philosophy points that I invariably don't live out in my life. To that end, I like a book which stimulates and challenges my thinking, but also provides a good sense of direction. I like to pick up little tit bits to ponder in the afternoon.

The problem with this book is that it is not at all fun to read. It's the reading equivalent of that shaky-hand wire game, and you have to constantly concentrate and keep check of yourself. I do think the topic being discussed is important and highly relevant. Critical even. But I found myself constantly hoping that the next page would be a good place to stop for the day, and that meant that it took the best part of 3 months to read this book, by which time I had forgotten most of the points made at the start. It's also fairly heavy on the marketing lingo at times, so be prepared to puzzle over what "MVC" and "MIC" are?

My core criticism of the book is that it doesn't seem to really know where it is going. It builds and builds and builds like there is going to be some kind of epiphany moment brought on by all the countless examples and case studies. But you never really reach that summit, and so rather than providing answers it just poses more and more questions. You leave feeling intellectually battered and bruised, and looking forward to going back to your 'real world', even though you have now been convinced that it is a false and useless real world. The crux of this book teaches you one thing: people are relational and social; businesses have misunderstood (or refused to accept) that. But it doesn't really provide much in the way of direction for what to do about this. The examples of success given are all there, but you feel they don't really apply--can't be applied?--to your own situation.

One final point, the book is completely inaccurately subtitled. A better subtitle would be "Why you will rarely change mass behaviour because you don't understand our true nature". It doesn't tell you how to do it; it just points out that most people are not doing so. Scratch that, it does tell you how to do it. Somewhere. But I can't remember what the answer was...
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on 18 December 2010
This is an intersesting book on herd mentality and how to influence people or sell them something or an idea. It wasn't quite as scientific as I was hoping- more a marketing/management slant due to the author- but there are some references in it so you can follow up the background stuff if you want. His writing style is a nice and easy to read and his humour is great; and there are lots of interesting asides from the examples, for example discussing the Join-Me movement who enact Random Acts of Kindness to strangers. Although you might expect a book about influencing the masses to be a bit of a downer, in fact one of the things that comes out is that we are a super-social species and work best in our herds- or troupes I guess as we are apes- and some positive thoughts about society and the future. A good and thought-provoking read.
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on 20 September 2013
I saw Mark Earls deliver the keynote at a conference a few years back. I remember enjoying the talk and having great intentions of reading Herd....but then never getting round to it.
It's just fallen into my lap, as we're doing a project where herd psychology reared its head and seemed pretty relevant...so my colleague Katie thrust Herd into my hand as a useful book.

I now love it. Here's why:

It's not just a `business' book (which I endeavor to read many of... and often end up getting halfway through and giving up). It jumps straight into the nature of humanity - The super social ape. For anyone interested in psychology or just intellectually curious - it's fascinating, and underpins the book with an academic grounding.

It's practical and applicable to my work, now. It doesn't just sit on the fence and say why the the rest of the world is wrong, it gives you a framework to actually do stuff differently.

It's inspiring and I regularly get ideas whilst reading it. Unfortunately it's my friend Katie's copy, so I'm going to have to get my own to scribble in the margin.

It's well written and fun.I try to read books on the tube to and from work. This book I get out of my bag as I leave the office.

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on 13 March 2007
This book was totally compelling - my copy is now completely covered in crib notes - having devoured it at some speed I now want to go back and read the whole thing again. Not just interesting for people working in marketing, but also for those, like myself, working in small businesses, or, frankly, anyone interested in social psychology. Put simply (although there's nothing much simple about this book) Mark investigates how we are less driven by independent thought than we would like to believe, and more by peer influence; more than simply recapitulating that word-of-mouth is the best form of marketing (something we already knew) he gets right down to the roots of how it occurs, who perpetuates it and what it actually consists of, throwing up some fascinating insights into human behaviour in the process. He then strips back many existing marketing assumptions and presents some compelling new ideas as to how these theories should affect marketing in the modern world. Marketing tips aside, the book leads you to re-examine your choices, decisions, preferences, taste and even identity. It's immaculately researched and a totally absorbing read. Steven Poole in the Guardian compares him to Malcolm Gladwell on speed; I'm thinking more Robert M Pirsig with a point.
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on 27 July 2010
"Although there were a few interesting things, this was a bit of a disappointment considering all the positive feedback this book has been receiving. Firstly, the book is longer than it could be mainly due to far too many examples through which the author is trying to prove his thoughts (was the rather long baseball example towards the end really necessary to show that we should work as a team??). Secondly, the style of writing was quite similar to university dissertations - too many quotes of someone else's thoughts, absence of clarity, too long (and often off-topic) descriptions of otherwise straightforward points. Thirdly, the book's main point that our behaviour is influenced and shaped by interaction with others is nothing new; the author just gave it a new name. I also lacked examples of the successful implementation of the herd theory by businesses. If you are not sure whether you want to immerse yourself in this book, just check the very handy conclusion which will help you decide. "
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on 26 January 2017
This book is saying all the right things that we (at least I) want to hear: collaboration and co-creation is how you get the best things done, companies should be driven by a mission and/or a purpose, trust your partner and employees, ....
So, I definitely love the conclusions of the book.

However, a couple of negative points really make the book not more worthy than 3 stars.
- part one feels, at the beginning, like a "scientific" book. I.e. 1) it is full of references to various studies, and 2) it feels like the author is laying down the ground for bringing up his big theory. However, all this build-up fizzles out in a very general statement: we (humans) are a social species, and modern marketing acts as if we were a collection of individuals.
- most of part 2 principles are basically personal opinions of the author, somewhat backed by anecdotal evidence. As I mentioned, I do have the same opinions, and I do have anecdotal evidence as well that supports these opinions. However, I was looking for something more... scientific. Like a theory, backed by studies, that explains the whys and hows.

All in all, a decent book that mirrors my personal beliefs and views, but did not add much to my thinking.
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on 9 February 2007
I've just finished reading Herd. Actually, I devoured it in two sittings. And I urge you to go and read it if you want to think about how to better trigger changes in mass behaviour.
Unlike most business or marketing books it's not a set of case studies or a 'how to' process guide to mechanistic thinking.
Rather, it's an excellently written analysis of the new thinking (and the forgotten old thinking) about how people think, act and behave. It doesn't give you answers or tell you what to do, but rather raises questions in your mind about the principles on which most communications thinking is built.
Already, it's made me question a lot of the assumptions I have been taking for granted, made me think differently about some of the problems I'm trying to solve and helped me ground some of the different thinking I've been doing over the last couple of years.

The new paperback version adds fresh content and argument to further strengthen a strong argument and make it a worthwhile purchase for existing readers.
Whether you agree with all the conclusions or not, we need more stuff like this that brings fresh, challenging, provocative thinking into the far too conservative world of marketing and communications.
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on 16 June 2014
Mark Earls is an advertising and marketing man. His misgivings about how traditional marketing is done (assuming we are totally rational beings who act in our own self-interest) chimes with my own long held bias that marketing would be more successful if we know how people actually behave. The problem is that traditional marketing gives us an illusion of control. Marketing based on 'irrational' human behaviour is, on the other hand, messy. Many people who provide budgets for marketing feel more comfortable with the illusion. Earls demonstrates that marketing success will increasingly be about co-creation and conversations, about copying and believing in something that others can metaphorically buy into. It is a different (and to my mind more accurate) way of looking at the world and is full of cultural examples. An easy read for the intelligent layperson. Recommended.
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on 27 September 2013
Clever people get simple things and over complicate them.

Smart people get complicated things and break them down so we can all understand and access easier. Mark does so in this book. Evidence is in your own reaction when reading. You're left asking more questions and making more connections to your relationship with the world around you. I think that shows impact and true transfer of the material held in the text.

Well done Mark, a smart book for our times. Thanks.
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on 15 May 2013
An interesting book explaining, in easy and simple language, why and how new social phenomena catch up quickly amongst the masses.
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