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Six Pixels, 10 Questions: an interview with Mitch Joel

Editor's Note: This interview was originally published on David's blog and he has kindly given us permission to repost it here. Mitch Joel, Jones' interviewee, has long been a supporter of, and one-time contributor to, OneDegree.  We like to think we gave him his start 😉

Six-pixels-cover Mitch Joel, one of Canada's best known voices on the intersection of social media and marketing has authored his first book: Six Pixels of Separation – Everyone is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.

Anyone who's followed Mitch over the last few years knew this one was coming.  He's been writing it in real time with his blog, podcast, newspaper columns, interviews and speaking gigs.  The guy even hosted a podcast about business books for Harper Collins.

I asked Mitch to answer 10 questions for me about his book that I could publish here.  I'm no James Lipton…I forgot to ask about his favourite curse word.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Mitch Joel. I am the President of a Digital Marketing agency called Twist Image. We have offices in both Toronto and Montreal and we employ over 80 people. I have a Blog and Podcast called, Six Pixels of Separation, and I’ve just release my first business book named after my Blog on Grand Central Publishing – Hachette Book Group. I also do a bi-monthly business column for both the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun plus – as if that doesn’t keep me busy enough – I do a monthly tech column called, Ultraportable, for enRoute Magazine.

What's your book about…in one sentence?

Everybody is connected online and through their mobile devices. This book is about how business can (and should) connect themselves to everybody. That was two sentences, but it sounds like one.

What will I get out of this book over other social media books out there?

About 288 pages more. All kidding aside, this is not a Social Media book. It’s a business book. I know the books you are talking, and those books tend to be written by people giving their perspective of the new online channels either through the lens of a Marketer, Consultant or Technologist. I wrote this book as an Entrepreneur for businesspeople. Using real business language and case stories that really illustrate how business can grow (and yes, that includes making money). This book is the strategy, tools and tactics I used to grow my business from no employees in 2002 to nearly 85 full-time team members with multiple offices. Basically, by taking part and engaging in the many online channels, my company, Twist Image, (with me as “the voice”) was able to build this multi-million dollar business. We continue to grow by still using the same channels. So, yes, some of the platforms are Social Media-based, but the book is much more about how to think strategically different and engage in a much more human way in this new world.

Who should read this book?

The two main people I wrote this book for was small-to-medium sized business owners who keep hearing about Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc… but still grapple with how it applies to business, if it’s worth their time, and whether or not there is actually any real business at the end of it. The second segment would be mid-to-senior level businesspeople in large organizations who are constantly being asked (or are even asking themselves), “what are we doing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc…?” These are the people who are constantly being pushed to do a lot more with a lot less, and their peers (both Junior and Senior) think that the online channels hold the key. My book breaks down the big difference between asking “what?” and asking “why?” – in short, asking “why?” is the strategy and asking “what?” is the tactic, so it’s all about figuring out the “why?” first.

Who shouldn't bother reading this book?

You or anybody else reading this. We live in a big fishbowl, where we think that everyone knows about Blogs, Podcasting and customer reviews. The truth is, some of the smartest businesspeople out there have yet to jump onboard because they simply don’t get it, and no one has explained it to them in a real and pragmatic business way. The reason I wrote a book in the first place – and did not just tell people to read my Blog – is because when I go out and speak in public (which I do about 70 events a year), it is amazing to me how many businesses are simply not engaged online. So, I wrote this book using a medium they are comfortable and used to.

That being said, I am hopeful that you (and anybody else reading this) will pick it up. I have been told that there are some different and unique perspectives even for someone who is highly engaged in these digital channels. I’m also hopeful that you (and your community) will see the value in passing a book like this on to clients or peers who keep asking the questions we get asked on a daily basis.

What other books would make up your recommended social media boxed set?

  • The Cluetrain Manifesto – The End of Business as Usual, by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger.
  • Here Comes Everybody – The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky
  • Life After the 30-Second Spot – Energize Your Brand With a Bold Mix of Alternatives to Traditional Advertising, by Joseph Jaffe
  • Purple Cow – Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, by Seth Godin
  • Re-Imagine! – Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age, by Tom Peters
  • Web Analytics – An Hour A Day, by Avinash Kaushik
  • Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? – Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, and Lisa T. Davis.
  • Made To Stick – Chip and Dan Heath.

Favourite line from the book?

“Cells before pixels.” It’s in the dedication.

Favourite quote from the book?

“Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is,” Chris Anderson – Editor of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail and Free.

Three words of social media advice for companies or organizations?

Listen. Follow. Help.

Three words of sm advice for agencies?

Learn. Experiment. Honesty.


  1. SeoNext
    SeoNext September 2, 2009

    Mitch Joel, one of Canada’s best known voices on the intersection of social media and marketing has authored his first book: Six Pixels of Separation – Everyone is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.Really a very good book.Really a nice post.Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. geekversity
    geekversity September 3, 2009

    Thanks for posting this and for sharing Mitch Joel’s insights.
    I’ll have to remember that quote from Chris Anderson: “Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is,” really cuts to the core in a wonderfully blunt way of what SEO and online marketing are all about and what your efforts boil down to. This, I think, can be very hard for some newcomers to the web to understand and perhaps why so many small to medium-sized business owners struggle to understand the *point* of social media and SEO.

  3. Mitch Joel - Twist Image
    Mitch Joel - Twist Image September 3, 2009

    Many thanks for running this post from David Jones’ Blog. I appreciate it.

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