Chris Brogan on Trust and Social Media (Trust Quotes #9)

Chris Brogan needs no introduction to some TrustMatters readers. Some of you caught him at the Trust Summit last fall; Others may never have heard of him. I’m about to do the second group a huge favor.

Chris is co-author (with Julien Smith) of Trust Agents, CEO of New Marketing Labs and an active speaker and blogger. 

But that’s nothing. Chris is a guru in the new social media space; a Twitter deity; and an all-round major influence in the emerging new world of commerce and social interaction.

I find Chris doubly interesting; not only does he have solid things to say about trust, he lives them in a most authentic and high-integrity way. He is a genuinely, really, really nice guy—and I think he’s as famous for that as for anything.

We caught up with him right around his 40th birthday; rather young for the life he’s lived already.

CHG: Chris, how do you define your work these days: is it new social media? Marketing? Trust? Public speaking? Who is Chris Brogan anyway?

CB: My work is divided into a few camps right now. My company, New Marketing Labs, LLC, works as marketing consultants providing strategy and execution for online and social media marketing for Fortune 100/500 types. My media business, currently thought of as, is where I do public speaking, blogging, book authoring, and the like.

A few months after this interview, I’ll be announcing something that will make it just a bit more streamlined and unified. But my work, if I were to tidy this answer up, would be to educate and equip others for success in doing what I call “human business.”

CHG: You finished writing Trust Agents nearly a year ago. It hit NYTimes best seller territory, and is still ranked #3,000 today. That’s very successful. For the uninitiated, what is Trust Agents about?

CB: Julien and I wrote Trust Agents about how to be human on the web. We wrote about this new type of business application for social tools, which, when used by talented individuals (either in a company, or a church, or a nonprofit, or as a solo entrepreneur) can help people gain awareness, build reputation, and earn trust. We talk from the high concept all the way down to actionable steps about what elements people seek to attain trust via the extended digital world.

CHG: Have you developed some perspective on it yet? Do you see some aspects of it as more important now than when you wrote it? Less?

CB: Great question. I think both Julien and I believe that the most important part of Trust Agents is in building and maintaining your network. We’ve learned since the book came out that the most applicable parts for people to follow were about the way they interacted with others, and how they transferred value back and forth along their network (and we could define “value” as anything that improves the experience of a person in the network – such as helping a friend find a job).

CHG: My impression is you’re synonymous with Inbound Marketing. Is that right? More importantly, my strong impression is that in any case you conduct your life according to those principles. Can you share a little about both the definition of inbound marketing, and how you practice it? I’m thinking of things like 12-other referential tweets for each one of your own, or the way you once responded to a taunt/challenge from Robert Scoble.

CB: The folks at Hubspot coined the term “inbound marketing,” partly because Seth Godin has a copyright on “permission marketing.” In all cases, we all believe that beating people over the head with your needs and desires to sell products or services isn’t a successful strategy any longer. We look to build relationship-based selling models, such that we turn audience into community, and we guard our relationship with our community as an asset, every bit as much as we guard our trade secrets.

My personal definition? Be helpful. The way I built my own personal brand was delivering information that others could use to improve their own lot in life. And I promote others at least 12 times as much as I promote my own stuff on various social networks.

CHG: We hear an awful lot of talk these days about the decline of trust in institutions today. I’m sure you understand that, but do you also notice that and experience it yourself? In fact, do you find significant areas where trust is in fact increasing?

CB: The big revolution that’s brewing is that we, the people, are sick of being numbers. We want to be seen and heard, and treated as individuals. The oft-cited example in the US for trust improvements are places like Comcast, who found their customer service approval scores a bit higher since the efforts of Frank Eliason and his @comcastcares Twitter efforts.

There are lots of anecdotal examples along these lines. Dell Computers has been in the camp of more trustworthy and more human, ever since 2005, when Lionel Menchaca came on the scene to humanize them. Significant areas, though? Not yet. I’m hoping this is the year we start demanding more trustworthy relationships.

CHG: Are you optimistic about prospects for trust in the emerging economy of our time? Can you explain a bit about why? 

CB: Interesting question. I think one way we’ll see more trust bubble up is through the creation of all these Internet businesses and Internet-born brands. No one had heard of Gary Vaynerchuk a few years ago, and now, if Gary says this is a wine you need to try, thousands and thousands of people will buy that bottle.

Trust developed to make up for a younger brand relationship might be the big lever that gets older organizations to have to rush in and follow suit. It’s how I see it potentially shifting. Look at car companies. In this new landscape, they KNOW that trust is one of the only ways to settle up and move forward.

CHG:  Is trust in the new social media world the same as, or different from, trust in the old analogue world? How can they cross over?  

CB: There are some weird differences in trust in the social media world, but in a way they parallel the way (western) society seems to be evolving.

We have no long-term memory any more in this country. Sins of the past wash away a lot faster, it seems, in many situations. We also seem to demand a more gritty, three-dimensional reality from our brands. Further, we want an entertainment factor to our education and information delivery.

All these traits in the analog world translate quite nicely into how social media delivers interactions around relationship-building, media making, and community environments. This new web is a lot more social, a lot more touchy-feely, and a lot more insistent on a more human interaction.

For me? Good times, and I hope that’s how others see this opportunity. We buy from people we know, and these tools allow us to build strong relationships before the sale.

CHG: Chris, many thanks for taking time out of what has to be one of the busiest lives on the planet; it’s always a pleasure, and I really appreciate it.

CB: You’re very welcome.

This is number 9 in the Trust Quotes series.

The entire series can be found at:

Recent posts in this series include:
Trust Quotes #8: LJ Rittenhouse
Trust Quotes #7: David Maister
Trust Quotes #6: Anna Bernasek

To Twitter or Not to Twitter: The Only Top Ten List You’ll Need

I’ve been twiddling with Twitter for a number of months. Only now I’m ready to get into it with both feet. If you’ve been following me on Twitter at cgreen23 or at trustedadvisors, please make the switch over to my new twitter account, CharlesHGreen.

Now: why should you care?

If you’re not a user, Twitter probably looks narcissistic to you. Why in the world should you want to read what thousands of other people are eating for breakfast? Answer: you shouldn’t, and you don’t have to. Nor does anyone else want to hear that stuff from you either.

The good news is, you can listen, or not, to anyone you want. And you can talk, but others will decide to listen to you, or not. It’s a (very) free market of ideas.

Twitter does a bad job of explaining itself in its invitation for users to state what’s going on. The real power of Twitter as I’ve come to see it is a new form of search, a new vehicle for relationship development, and a new form of promotion. And the last is least.  Or, if you prefer, twitter is the new email.  Or chatroom.  Or texting.  Or social network.  It’s a bit of all that.

Here are my top reasons to Twitter  (in ascending order of importance):

Charlie Green’s Top 10 Reasons to Twitter

10. To find out what all the buzz is about and who’s following Michelle Obama’s twitter account

 9.  To promote your name

 8.  To tap into current events well before the blogs pick it up

 7.  To do an incredibly fast, pointed, search that returns 1 paragraph answers

 6.  To find out perspectives about an issue–don’t forget to try Twitter Search

 5.  To aggregate information that people who like you would be interested in

 4.  To establish your own brand by coming up with a distinctive profile of information you offer up

 3.  To provide your followers with high quality information of use to them

 2.  To find 5-6 thought leaders you admire, and easily follow what they say, and what their followers say

 1.  To make new acquaintances who help you learn, grow, and do business with.

But don’t just listen to me. Here are some other, more experienced, Twitterers on the subject. If you want to decide whether and how to get into this, here’s a pretty good list to help you:

Top Ten List of Others’ Top Ten Reasons to Twitter

  1. Brian Critchfield’s Why Should I Use Twitter?
  2. Chris Brogan (from two years ago) on 5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good
  3. Business Week’s How Companies Use Twitter to Bolster Their Brands
  4. Guy Kawasasaki’s How to Use Twitter as a Twool
  5. Darren Rouse’s 9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers
  6. Lee Lefever’s Twittering for 1 Year – a Retrospective
  7. David Lee King’s Why Use Twitter?
  8. Sharon Sarmiento’s The Top 5 Ways Smart People Use Twitter
  9. Chris Brogan again (because he’s the King of Tweet, that’s why) on 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business
  10. Wikipedia on Twitter

And you won’t believe how much faster (most of) this might have been on Twitter.

Oh, and that twitter address again is CharlesHGreen.

Web 2.0 vs. the BBC | Danah Boyd vs. Goliath

If you’re not familiar with Danah Boyd, thank me later. Read her bio , or her blog.

While grossly unfair to pigeonhole her, I’ll paraphrase Wes Neff, her agent at Leigh Bureau (full disclosure—he’s mine too):

Lots of people in academia are studying social networks; Danah is the first one who can easily hold her own in that crowd, but whose power comes from knowing that culture herself, personally,  intimately.

She’s hip, she’s smart, she’s well-spoken.  She totally knows her stuff.  She writes in a vividly personal, authentic voice.

And she has a knack for being controversial.  One gets the impression she’s a bit surprised, a bit bemused, and a bit saddened by that—but it shouldn’t be surprising.  She’s a revolution personified.  When it’s about Danah Boyd, it’s not just about Danah Boyd.

Case 1. Danah was asked to comment officially on Michael Gorman’ post that I blogged about yesterday. Read her (excellent) commentary, and the illuminating 27 comments following.  Result?  Advantage, Boyd.

But Britannica wasn’t enough.  Then the BBC tangled with her.

On June 24, Danah posted a brilliant little piece on her current research—how teens interact with social networks as part of their socialization process.  She talked about the relationship between Facebook and MySpace, and some implications for socioeconomic status.

Neat stuff, very nicely written, very provocative. She called it a “blog essay,” and wrote:

Hopefully, one day, I can get the words together to actually write an academic article about this topic, but I felt as though this is too important of an issue to sit on while I find the words. So I wrote it knowing that it would piss many off. The academic side of me feels extremely guilty about this; the activist side of me finds it too critical to go unacknowledged.

The next day, the BBC published an article titled “Social sites reveal class divide.” It talked about “a long-term research project…”, “the conclusions are based on interviews…”, “in a preliminary draft of the research…”, and “…suggests a study.”

So : an American writes about class, it’s published in Britain, in what sounds like an academic study—but, not completely so.  Instant controversy.  In days, Boyd got 100,000 hits on her posting.

This, from the (back home) EastBay Express on June 28:

Local Academic’s Blog Generates Premature Controversy

Berkeley PhD candidate Danah Boyd, has the web astir after she posted an informal essay on her blog about the class divisions associated with the popular social-networking sites Facebook and MySpace. Boyd, who is already among the most prominent of academics of the Internet’s social sphere, posted the essay on Sunday. On Monday morning, the BBC reported on Boyd’s “conclusions”, and by midday Monday, nearly 100,000 readers had flocked to Boyd’s original entry. Though many have written in support of the essay, others have taken major offense, calling the work “racist” and academically unsound. 
Boyd sees the negativity towards her essay as a product of its misrepresentation in the press—specifically in the BBC’s “hugely problematic” coverage of her essay—which she says referred to the essay as a final product of academic research, rather than the exploratory mid-process musing it was meant to be.

Danah Boyd is a lightning rod for the encounters between traditional, credentialist, individual-based academia, and the more free-wheeling, collabo, throw-up-the-beta-version ethos of the web.  Libraries vs. databases.  Wikipedia vs. encyclopedia.  It’s bound to rub a few people the wrong way.

Here’s from Green Tea Ice Cream, in a posting on Experts and Social media:

the fall-out from Danah Boyd’s (inadvertent) media bomb . The reaction to Danah’s essay in the newspapers suggests that mainstream media are still very fond of privileging expert, authoritative discourse – when it suits them (i.e. when it gives an opportunity to discuss/reinforce class divisions, say “Oooh, it’s bad this Noo Medjaa stuff, isn’t it?” and so on…).

Or this, from Deep Jive Interests:

Will the “Danah” report be the kiss of death to MySpace’s valuation? Why Rupert Murdoch is probably cursing Danah Boyd’s name.

Wow. Britannica. The BBC.  Influencing Murdoch’s market value.  What’s next, the Queen?  Where Dana goes, she can’t help but raise issues—she sits astride the intersection of old and new. 

Maybe she thought she’d become a mover of markets some day; though I bet she didn’t think it’d happen like this. (Wes, on the other hand, who knows how academic celebrities get made, may be unfazed).

The Adventures of Danah are like the coming attractions at the movies.   Arrive early to see what’s going to be playing in your own life soon.