Trust Agents: The Essential Startup Social Media Guide

November 5, 2009Sparxoo

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By Tara Lane, Staff Writer

This month, the Sparxoo team read Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. As top social media specialists themselves, Brogan and Smith have a lot of knowledge to share, and did not hold anything back. We want to share some key points and takeaways, and encourage you to read it, too.

Total Rating

5 out of 5

Who Should Read this Book

If you’re interested in furthering your brand or reputation – business or personal – through social media, Trust Agents is something you’ll want to read right away. No matter if you’re a brand new user, or have been on the Web for years, Brogan and Smith will help give you new insight into the latest trends and advancements in the realm of social media. They explain concepts simply, but well enough to give new users an easy-to-use guide, and advanced users a brush-up on new ways to connect with users and customers.

What This Book is About

Trust Agents shows readers how to use social networking tools to built the best networks possible, using the tips and tools the authors received and used themselves. In turn, they show you can use these networks to gain influence, and make a positive impact on your business, or your personal brand. They also provide examples of others who have built trust in their own ways, whether it was going undercover in the Mafia, or beating a popular video game. The authors are clear to point out that trust isn’t built overnight, and that it takes a lot of work on the user’s end to build that trust among their networks.

Why the Book is Important

In business, trust is everything. The example of Tylenol’s cyanide debacle is popular in PR circles because it’s a clear example of how the company was able to maintain trust with its customers by doing the right thing. With the recent FTC crackdown on bloggers, online trust is more important than ever. Brogan and Smith go in-depth about the do’s and don’ts of using social media, highlighting common mistakes that people make that can hurt their reputation and credibility rather than help. The bottom line – everything is moving to the digital space, and knowing how to use it now will pay off in the end.

Why the Book is Unique

Trust Agents was a long awaited release, and quickly became a New York Times Bestseller. Chris Brogan is well known to almost anyone in the social media world. His grasp of concepts and use of social media is a skill many hope to master. The book tackles every area of social media, and outlines uses for each – but also stresses the importance of using traditional media and personal, human relationships as well. Unlike other books, Trust Agents gets into detail about networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, which are often mentioned but not as discussed by others. It’s a straightforward approach to social media use, without getting technical or preachy in the process.

Similar Books

There is no shortage of social media books out now. For such a simple premise, there is so much that goes into the study of it, and the people behind it. After reading Trust Agents, you’ll want to check out Socialnomics by Erik Qualman, or The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web by Tamar Weinberg. You can also keep up with Chris Brogan and Julien Smith on their blogs, where they give even more insight into social media use, online communities, trust building, and marketing.

Sparxoo Comments

Social media is an area of the web that continues to evolve, and we learn new things about it every day. Brogan and Smith seem to be ahead of the curve, both in their writing and actions. While reading the book, thoughts would pop up about how to do this or that, or why this happens or doesn’t; within a few paragraphs, the question would be answered. These authors truly understand their audience and the medium, and are more than generous in sharing their experience, knowledge and advice when it comes to helping others on their path to success.

Top Takeaways

Quality over quantity: numbers don’t always matter, with comments, links, friends or followers. While we’d all like to have more of all of these, relishing those that we already have – many of which are more personal – should be our main focus, and using the ones that we do have as a starting point is the way to go.

Remember the “Trust Test”: (Credibility x Reliability x Intimacy) / Self- Orientation = Trust. Trust is impacted by what people say, and what others think about us – not what we think about ourselves. Don’t label yourself as a trust agent; let others do it for you.

Find something that hasn’t been done before, and find a solution for it; this is called gatejumping. Who “owns” the old game, and what can you do to make it different? Stand out from the crowd, and you’ll be remembered forever.

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