" />

Trust Agents — A Book Review… Sort of.

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, Social Media


  • Buy this book and read it (http://bit.ly/trustagentsamazon)
  • Take on board some of the actionable suggestions for Social Media online
  • Also take on board the macro theme of building relationships offline
  • Follow @chrisbrogan and help him crack 100,000 this month

This post began as a review of Trust Agents and became instead a bit of a look at how one of the authors, Chris Brogan, naturally uses the principles he writes about. If your work brings you to Social Media, either as a service offering, a corporate communication tool, or even just for your own personal networking, then you should read “Trust Agents”. In fact you should buy yourself one and buy one for a friend, colleague or client. Buy multiple copies, and Chris is open to deals to donate money or books to charity, or to come and address your company.

Written by two Social Media veterans, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, Trust Agents is accessible and actionable. The style is easy and personable, the analogies easily relatable, and every 10 pages or so they give you specific actions to take – from step by step instructions on downloading and installing Google Reader as a “Listening Station” to monitor mentions of your name or brand, to tips on designing and using (yes “using”) a business card. Many of them so brilliantly simple and insightful, you’ll wonder why you aren’t doing them already. Worth the price of admission for a few of these tips alone.

But Trust Agents isn’t really a book about Social Media, it is a book about relationships, about “humanizing business”. It just so happens that Social Media platforms provide convenient and scalable tools to build and leverage these relationships. You’ll notice one of the examples I mentioned above was how to “use” a business card – old school social networking where you actually shake someone’s hand and ask them for their business card so you can get in contact with them. No poking, no “D”, no @mentions. These are solid principles for establishing, nurturing, and leveraging relationships in any setting – it so happens that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the darlings right now, but these principles apply both online and offline in traditional and modern settings.

Now, I’ve been following @chrisbrogan on Twitter for a while. In fact he is one of the small number of people I allow through my Tweetdeck group filter, so that I can easily find his tweets in my stream. I get his tweets alongside folks like @guykawasaki, @skydiver, @briansolis, @perrybelcher, @dannysullivan, @dberkowitz, @johnbattelle, @bbhlabs and about 20 others. These Tweeters offer interesting content and perspectives, but also great lessons to learn by seeing HOW they tweet. Frequency, tone, content – how they engage, how they help me find information, how they give more than they take from the channel.

Chris provided a masterclass with the promotion of Trust Agents. Leveraging his follower base tactfully and without pitching to them, he offered value, humble thanks, and fostered an almost viral campaign where followers would send in Twitpics of the book in interesting settings (airport, with cute kid, at the beach etc).

But a big part of why this worked so well is that Chris has built his network to help other people. He doesn’t use Twitter cynically to bombard you with offers and pitch you products – he uses it to engage, to converse, to let you into his world. In fact when it came time to push Trust Agents he seemed almost embarrassed to ask, for the first time ever, for a favor from all of his followers – to buy the book, to promote the book, to help the book become a success. And the outpouring of response, helping the book climb NYTimes, WSJ and Amazon and Kindle best-seller lists, came because his network wanted to help him back. This is one of the big lessons – be genuine, build relationships, help others, and the universe will reward you. Call it hippie, call it karma, being a good human makes good business.

chris-broganThe other lesson is that this is work. It doesn’t need to be a chore, but it does take time and effort. Take a look at “A Day In The Life of Chris Brogan” – a wonderful schematic developed by Mark Smiciklas at Intersection Consulting (@intersection1). Brogan puts in 14 hours of screen time, managing 590 emails, 210 Twitter DMs and 52 texts and 19 phone calls. The guy is working it round the clock!

In a recent interview about the book on Socialmedia.biz, Chris said “How did WE do the bestseller thing (twice, I might add: NYT and Wall Street Journal)? We asked our friends. I’m just lucky that I have ten thousand friends.” Actually, the guy is near his 100,000 follower milestone on Twitter – follow him at www.twitter.com/chrisbrogan and help him over the hump. I promise you’ll enjoy his tweets and learn a few things at the same time. Trust me.

About Matt Kain

Matt is the Chief Revenue Officer of The Search Agency in mid 2009 with overall responsibility for Revenue Maximization, Business Development, Sales and Marketing. Matt has more than 10 years of senior management experience in digital marketing and is a recognized expert in search marketing. Matt is an active industry figure, and has served on the Advisory Boards of the major search engines and industry bodies SEMPO, IAB, and AAAA. His opinion is regularly sought by investors and journalists, and he is a regular speaker and writer on search, behavioral targeting and online marketing.

Tags | , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “Trust Agents — A Book Review… Sort of.”

  1. Matt, great “sort of” review :-)

    I think this phrase hits home the most “… be genuine, build relationships, help others, and the universe will reward you. ”

    “Social Karma” is a result of authenticity, being who you are, and letting people decide if *they* want to intereact with *you*. No being pushy, no buying ‘friends’ and definitely no salesmanship.

    People want “real”, businesses shouldn’t disappoint.

  2. Barbara says:

    So many of the principles that I hold near and dear are laid out in this article. In an age where people ‘hide’ behind email and IM “conversations”, there are times when it is the right thing to pick up the phone, talk, meet, solve.

    I am a huge believer in the network: be of service to others. I don’t see people – I see connections – and whether that is business referrals, travel tips, nanny references, restaurant recommendations, you name it – I gain so much more out of making the connection than keeping the information for myself.

    Bottom line – be a good person. People want to know, befriend and work with good people. Game(s) over.

  3. frank lee says:

    Frank Lee likes this

  4. There are encouraging signs, for Zimbabwe has comfortably the highest adult literacy rate in Africa.
    The news watcher’s speak no English and I no Khmer,
    but they do speak some Vietnamese so we use that language. Try on some small floral prints, pinstripe shirts, micro polka dots.


Leave a Reply

Follow Us on Twitter

Featured in Alltop

Big List - Search Marketing Blogs

2010 SEMMY Runner-Up

BoostCTR Best PPC Blogs