The Trust Agents Speak: Chris Brogan and Julien Smith


I got to hear social media star Chris Brogan and Julien Smith speak. They co-wrote the book, Trust Agents. Brogan’s Blog is #1  on the Ad Age Power 150 list of the top Marketing Blogs in the world. Both are very down to earth (Brogan has farmers in his family and he’s a geek).

Mitch Joel spoke but I missed a lot of it (I was doing what a lot of women do each day — getting my son off to school and then madly driving 30 mins. to get there). I just have to say that I can’t relate to his dismay at being only #22 on the Ad Age list of top marketing blogs. If only. I wrote for Marketing Pilgrim and Andy is on the list too. That’s as close as I’ve ever been.

I think one of the pre-requisites to being famous online is a short first and last name. These guys have the most easy to say and remember names. Who is going to remember any of mine (women change names and it messes up our search results) – much less spell them (Janet Thaeler or Janet Meiners and even Newspapergrl is spelled wrong.)

Brogan and Smith co-wrote the book Trust Agents. Chris Brogan is as down to earth as they get. He was at the registration table handing out name badges. I did a double take. Wait, are you Chris Brogan? They have you staffing the registration table?? It was true.

“Your brand isn’t what you say it is…it’s what Google says it is.” – Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine.

Or, you could say your brand is what Facebook says it is…or what other people say about you on Twitter and on other social networks.

Social Media= a Revolution in Communication
At first our messaging was one or 2 way messages only. Now with social media it’s a group expression. We’re in the middle of a renaissance & can’t know what it is until it’s over & we look back. Some people take that to mean we have no control. But we do still control pricing, products, message, etc.

On Women in Tech
Chris Brogan on the small controversy covered on this blog about how the speakers at the event for women in tech were all men:  “You can be a dude and be in women’s tech council.” Well said. In fact, there were a lot of dudes in the room (also women).

Let me just state again that I had no misgivings about any of the men who spoke – I do want to know who Chris considers the top women in social media though. I’d like the group to invite them. Can you name even a few? Women are underrepresented. You know that list of the top marketing blogs of the world? There are almost no women on the list. Why not?

He humored us though by giving these stats – (which is just one way he showed that he came prepared and researched his audience):

  • 40% of companies are women-owned
  • Women making over $100k a year has tripled since 1997. At the same time men’s salary growth has been flat.

Chris Brogan’s Email Open Rates
Here’s the eye-popping stat from Chris (the benefit of taking his advice to promote others 12x more than you promote yourself).

78% open rate on his emails!

His advice? “Don’t beat your list or market people into buying from you. Don’t talk about your stupid product. Just talk to them. Don’t ask for much very often.”

Tell Stories!
Stories sell things in a way that your stats never can. People want you to put things in their language – not just stats or numbers – but the human element. Apple telling people that an iPod can fit 1000 songs is better marketing than telling people how many gigs it holds. It’s something we can relate to and easily share with someone else.

Promote Others First
Networking means doing a lot of good before you get good back. You’re filling an emotional bank account. Attention is a currency just like time and money are. Brogan says he promotes other people 12x more than he promotes his own stuff. Do this and people will be more willing to tweet your stuff when you ask.

You can’t Buy Trust with Money
Losing ads in print media to other media. Trust is also easier for people to get than brands –  it’s a currency itself. For example, 60% of things consumed by kids 12-18 is made by other kids 12-18. He dissed on how the iPad makes you pay to see ads (they charge for magazines). This only made sense when you bought magazines at the newsstands. Also, he said “my iPad doesn’t know I’m there.” Even toilets recognize there’s a human there (auto flush).

“We’re asking for money at the wrong part of the equation.” And that doesn’t build trust – it doesn’t build trust to try to make people buy from you. Blogging allows you to tell stories and connect with people – build trust – before the sale. He spoke a bit about how he uses affiliate marketing which is a way to extend that trust. He can then introduce people to products he likes that his community might want to know about. That’s when money enters the equation because businesses pay you for the referrals you send to them.

Favorite Joke:

Chris Brogan is funny – I laughed a lot of the time. Here’s my favorite joke: He tells us to stand up and cajoles people into actually doing it.  So we stand up and stretch. He says

I fake my standing o’s.

I think I’ll steal that when I speak at Cisco’s social media conference next month (don’t tell them).

Should I be on every social network?

No. You don’t need to build a lot of blogs or be everywhere – instead invest in one network and build it. You don’t have to be on all of the networks. Your network is an actual asset. Blogs can be assets as can ebooks, books, etc. – they make you money when you’re not there.

What about my privacy??

Our privacy is already rendered useless anyway. If you don’t like it, “You can opt out of facebook just like you can opt out of being a part of the cash society.”

But how do you find time to keep up on all of this?

Chris Brogan is #1 on Google for the phrase: “no i don’t sleep.” Julian says: we make time to blog – we make it a priority. I write a blog post every morning. I don’t watch tv.

Thank you Chris, Juilen and Mitch for coming! Thank you to the Women in Tech Council for bringing them to speak. Very enlightening!

Want to hear what others thought?

Check out the tweets at #BroganUt – except it hardly shows any of them – is there a way to get a full archive or is it just gone forever?

SEO.com’s Scott Cowley (an SEO perspective)
Burn the Ships, Touch the Burner and Behave Like a Baby (great headline!)
Get In & Go blog (with video and pictures)

If you blogged about it too – please comment and leave a link to your post.


One Response
  1. Chris Brogan... May 21, 2010

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