Trust Agents Tab Rating: 38*

Trust Agents Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

This book was written more for Chief Marketing Officers, Marketing Directors, and Entrepreneurs, than the average CEO. However, a CEO of an established company will find a lot of wonderful insights and action items throughout the book. The section on how Trust Agents use LinkedIn wasn’t very impressive. But, all in all, Chris and Julian, who are both immersed in the social media industry, do a great job of providing you with a wealth of resources and tips for monitoring your online brand and building up your company’s online community.

4 Key insights from the book:

1. Put a listening system in place.
Chris and Julien recommend building a listening station that will enable you to monitor your online brand or image as well as that of your competition. I find most companies are surprised by the sheer amount of information already out there about their company. People are talking about you, even if you haven’t yet engaged in the conversation. But how do you find out what they are saying? There are lots of online tools at your disposal, and in the first chapter they walk you through a step-by-step process for setting up a customized listening station!

2. Understand Social Networking Etiquette.
If you got along well with others in kindergarten you shouldn’t have too much trouble socializing on the web, but there are a few insights Chris and Julien offer that will give you a competitive edge in building your online community. First, understand that each social networking site has it’s own culture, for example; “Digg users are not Twitter fans.” So spend some time getting to know the culture of the social network before you step in. Second, and I think one of the most important, “promote others 12 times as much as you promote yourself or your company.” Internet communities frown on blatant self-promotion or advertising. The way to grow your business on the web is through building strong relationships first. Finally, if your company makes a mistake, and it will happen, they recommend you “remember the three A’s: acknowledge, apologize, act. There have been many mistakes made by reputable companies and those that follow those three simple steps are often in a better position than they were in before the mistake was made.

3. Building your online community.
Chris and Julien offer lots of guidance on how to find communities that will be the right fit for your business and tips on creating the types of content that will enable you to start building your own community. Those two options not being mutually exclusive of course. To find already existing communities they recommend you use one of the many search tools available on the internet: Google, Blogsearch or Technorati for example, and simply enter words that pertain to your product or service into the search box, with the words “community” or “network” after it. This should give you lots of options. Just make sure you create a manageable plan for interacting in these communities that isn’t going to overwhelm you current staff.

4. Techniques for Building Trust.
While the techniques for building strong relationships with your customers and prospects haven’t changed much, what Chris and Julien offer you are a set of new tools that make building those trusted relationship easier and less expensive.
You now have communication and or media distribution tools at your fingertips. However, there has been a profound change in the nature of the communication taking place. As the authors state,  the Web is different from all other media developed over the past 50 years, and that’s because it wasn’t created for advertisers and commercialism. “The Internet was conceived to enable scientists to communicate more fluidly.” What this means, is that your communications efforts need to take a more personal tone. The types of communication that companies are finding most effective look more like casual conversations than the impersonal or dry copy most companies are used to.
This simple element will probably be the biggest struggle for most companies, especially those who offer a technical service or product.  It requires that you (your customer service and or marketing staff) be able to respond quickly, often daily, to the conversations that are happing in your industry.  They must have the talent to communicate well and the self-esteem to not take company criticism personally.  This book should give you and your staff a solid foundation for participating in the communication revolution taking place on the internet.
The book also presents, in the form of very hands on actionable tactics, lots of other great information. For example they have a great section that hights tools for increasing your productivity, something all of us could use some help with these days. If you find their book valuable I recommend you take a look at their blogs:  and

Other Resources Chris and Julien Recommend:

Bit Literacy
by Mark Hurst: written to help you understand how to deal more effectively with information in its new digital form.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: for those of you who are afraid to jump in and get your feet wet. Nassim suggests you go at these new tools with the mindset of a “Tinkerer.”

Getting Things Done
by David Allen: another book on handling information overload.

Inbox Zero
by Merlin Mann: offers tips on keeping your inbox empty.

The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell: a fascinating analysis of how popular trends develop.

*My Tab Ratings reflect the total number of post-it tags I wound up putting in the book because I found a piece of information on a specific page very valuable.

To order Trust Agents or any of the other books highlighted in this review please visit our CEO Bookstore. All proceeds from the sale of these books benefit the charity selected for our free 2010 GOALs Strategic Planning Session.