Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust Paperback – Aug 23 2010
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From the Inside Flap
There's no question that the Internet has changed the way we do businessespecially when it comes to marketing. Consumer environments are short on trust and populated by consumers who are cynical, savvy, and informed. Though it's easier than ever to reach your customers, it's less likely that they'll listen. Today, the most valuable online currency isn't the dollar, but trust itself.
At the same time, social networks and personal connections have far more influence on consumers than your marketing messages ever willunless your business knows how to harness them. In Trust Agents, two social media veterans show you how to tap into the power of these networks to build your brand's influence, reputation, and profits.
Trust agents aren't necessarily marketers or salespeople; they're the digitally savvy people who use the Web to humanize businesses using transparency, honesty, and genuine relationships. As a result, they wield enough online influence to build up or bring down a business's reputation. This book will show you how to build profitable relationships with trust agents, or become one yourself.
In an online world defined by its transparency, becoming a trust agent is no easy task, but once you've established your reputation, you can build influence, share it, and reap the benefits of it for your business. When you've learned a trust agent's secrets, your words can carry more power and more weight than any PR firm or big corporate marketing department.
Learn to use the power of the Web and social networks for your business now. Trust Agents gives you all the tools and strategies you need to do it the right wayhonestly, effectively, and profitably.
From the Back Cover
The revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller
Trust Agents has been widely acclaimed for its new approach toonline marketing. Now, in this revised and updated edition, social media veterans Chris Broganand Julien Smith show you how to tap into the power of social networks to build your brand'sinfluence, reputation, and profits. Combining high-level theory and practical advice, they deliveractionable strategies and real case studies that show how social media can positively impact your business. Let Trust Agents give you the keys to building customer loyalty online so your business can succeed in new markets and channels today!
Praise for Trust Agents
"Wow! Every once in a while you find a book that is a sit up in your chair, take notes, tell yourfriends, change your life breakthrough. This is that book. No kidding, you can trust me."
—Seth Godin, author of Tribes
"Social media may be a phenomenon, but it's not a fad. It has forever changed the waycompanies communicate with their customers. Trust Agents is the blueprint for doing it right."
—David B. Thomas, Social Media Manager, SAS
Top Customer Reviews
For futility will be his reward." -- Job 15:31
The online world spins out ever-increasing amounts of videos, images, words, and Web sites. There may be needles in the middle of all those haystacks, they are getting harder to find.
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith look at this circumstance from the perspective of someone trying to create or improve a business and pose the useful question: How can you become and remain the person who is trusted most in your area of expertise? From there, you follow an exciting journey through lots of good stories and little tips that clarify how you can operate more effectively in the online world.
Here are my paraphrases of some of the key principles:
1. Use continuing business model innovation to create ways to develop and share useful information in ways that delight people with their novelty, freshness, and value.
2. Be viewed as someone who is just like the audience, not someone with a hidden agenda, a lot of arrogance, or a phony.
3. Energize online communities by providing them with choices they like from a point of authenticity.
4. Build genuine, positive relationships by seeking to provide value for everyone you interact with.
5. Be considerate.
6. Assemble large numbers of people to work toward a common purpose while meeting their needs.
I was impressed that the authors appreciate that the way to do these things will continually change, but the principles will probably remain the same. It's a useful book from that perspective. Most people who write about the online world assume it will always be like it is today . . . and optimize on things that don't last.Read more ›
1. To help their readers become "trust agents." That is, "power users of the new tools of the Web, educated more by way of their own experiences and experiments than from the core of their professional experiences, [and who] speak online technology fluently."
2. To help their readers think more strategically, to understand certain principles much better, and to master the aforementioned "new tools" to build influence, share influence, "and benefit from the other currencies that such exchanges of trust" deliver to them.
I appreciate Brogan and Smith's skillful use of reader-friendly devices such as "ACTION" sections throughout the narrative that serve two separate but related purposes: they emphasize key points and suggest how to apply them. For example:
"Build a Listening Station" (Pages 11-12)
"Start Figuring Out the Rules...Everywhere!Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It might not be a bad book if you're new to social media, but if you're experienced you're basically going to hear the same old stuff with different jargon. Then again, if you're new to social media you're much better off reading Groundswell. You'll get plenty of interesting supporting data there rather than anecdotal evidence of why certain strategies work.
The book is structured around the six main features of a Trust Agent:
1. They make they own game. Nothing to do with ego packaging. They are the people who set new rules and provide a novel or interesting perspective on things.
2. They are "one of us." The expression "social media" maybe somewhat redundant, except that the Web can also be the playing ground of antisocial nerds and weirdos. Trust Agents are people we can relate to and care about others.
3. They understand the principle of the lever - or the Archimedes effect ("Give me a place on which to stand, and I will move the earth") and empower others.
4. They are marvel-ous connectors -- they have the power of an "Agent Zero." "No matter where they go, trust agents have a desire to connect good people together." They are not mere networkers and are more like relationship facilitators.
5. They are human artists. On the Web, we are deprived on 93 percent of all the human signals (38 percent vocal tones and 55 percent body movement), which exposes anybody to a number of blunders. They understand the subtle aesthetics and the etiquette of communication.
6. They know how to "build an army." You can't do it alone. But how can you best convince thousands of ronin and lone rangers to join in and follow? The loyalty of people is first and foremost your loyalty, as a Trust Agent, to them. The Kmart incident let the authors realize that "there are agreements, often implicit, between people and that these social contracts need to be clear and understood at all times."
The chapter "Build an Army" ends with an interesting statement: "Most of the meat of the business isn't in using these [social media] tools, but rather in how they are applied uniquely to your organization." The how requires a new type of skill, and tellingly enough, the conclusion of the book starts with an interesting statement: "Business, it feels, is becoming an art," the art of humanizing people that you may never see, and at looking at a random collection of people as real human beings emotionally connected by what the authors often call a "social contract." Push marketers are doomed to belong to another age, and social media marketing, still kind of a sidekick in marketing organizations, will be the cornerstone of the next marketing age - one governed by a completely new understanding of the value of customer service.
I like this book for many reasons. It's pragmatic and offers actionable advice to individuals and business leaders. I like the underlying assumption of a good-natured, transparence-driven popular sovereignty of digital natives that trust agents must respect to remain trust agents - and not turn into a body of traders controlling the social media business. I was interested by the fact that it is written by two authors who end up complementing each other as they express the complexity of a social media scene, the strange confluence of behaviors that we have caught from living on the Internet for the last 15 years, playing computer and video games (from the first SimCity to MMO games), reading American comic-books while still breathing in the real world.
How does one elicit trust online? On one level, it's really no different than how it's done offline: genuine communication, getting people effectively helped, giving people more than they paid for, etc.
A key to marketing online, at least for me, are those first contacts: the first time someone visits your blog/web site; the first time someone (really) meets you at a social media venue; how all of those bookmarks you've been creating are being viewed by your potential customers.
Probably the simplest way of stating it is:
"Trust Agents" helped me to upgrade my APPROACH to marketing online. Not how to make a site prettier, easier to navigate or how to get keywords to bring more traffic to my sites.
I love Twiter, Facebook, YouTube and all social media channels. They allow us to expand our universe beyond our neighborhood or our own community. Unfortunately in the quest for the "quick buck", many social media users are becoming a real burden in the system by trying to spam you or sell you something from the get go...it's like going to a party and when you meet someone, the first thing they do is take out their product brochure...duh!
This book will help many people correctly enter and use this medium. It will also help them understand how credibility and reputation is so important before they start and damage their own name. Kudos to Chirs and Julien for a job well done.
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