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Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust Hardcover – August 24, 2009
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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
"Wow! Every once in a while you find a book that is asit up in your chair, take notes, tell your friends, change your lifebreakthrough. This is that book. No kidding, you can trust me."
—Seth Godin, author of Tribes
"Business success today is as much about therelationships you cultivate with consumers as it is about yourproducts or services; for us at GM, the power is in combining the relationship with customers with truly exciting, brilliantly designed, and superblyexecuted vehicles. Chris and Julien have written an excellent primer on how to navigate this new environment, and how to earn the trust of thecommunities upon whom we increasingly depend."
—Fritz Henderson, CEO, General Motors
"This book gives marketers permission to be human. In fact,it goes as far as suggesting it might be a benefit. Get it, read it, share it!"
—John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing
"The foundation of all great marketing—online or offline—is trust.This book explains how to gain people's trust and turn it into apowerful force. Brogan and Smith are hardworking guys whoknow how to use the Web's tools to build business."
—Guy Kawasaki, cofounder, Alltop.com and author of Reality Check
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Top customer reviews
If I had to sum this book up it would be Dale Carnegie (his book - "How to make friends and influence people") meets the Godfather (remember the line paraphrased: "I will do this for you now - and someday I will ask you for a favor which you cannot refuse", and Goodfella (remember the line: "he is a Goddfella, one of us").
On the positive side - it is a very easy read (somewhat wordy and obvious in places though) - and the best part are the specific "Action Steps" which I did find valuable. Good intro to nuts'n-bolts of Web 2.0.
A decent read but would like to have been a little more amazed with new concepts from these two Trust Agents.
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.
For those wishing to carve out a path in social, he is at once a guiding light and a tell-it-like-it-is spokesman. He will let you know what he likes, what he doesn't, what works, and what sucks. At this point in the evolution of the revolution, failure of any would-be social media strategist to at least acknowledge Brogan's contributions to the industry (yes, social is an industry!) is akin to any African-American baseball player not paying homage to Jackie Robinson.
Brogan's natural gifts as a communicator are many, but where he separates from the rest of the pack is in his selfless promotion of others--itself, a foundation for any trust agent. As Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Stuart Graduate School of Business, where I teach the school's first-ever course in social media marketing, I felt this book carried important lessons for my students. Hence, I made "Trust Agents" part of my required reading list. For specific study around network structure, social influence and relationship marketing, my students were charged with incorporating Brogan's work into their final written assignments and oral presentations.
Because I think that Brogan and Smith are on to something deeper here than just describing the nature of conversation-driven relationships, I recommend this book as a universal read for aficionados, practitioners and devotees of social media. It gets to the core of how a thought leadership platform is established and holds your interest from start to finish.