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What I Got Out of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

This is a public Google Doc with all the phrases I highlighted and compiled out of the book “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Collectively, these notes represent what I got out of the book.

I got the most out of Chapter 5 “Agent Zero” and Chapter 6 “Human Artist.” Interwoven into these excerpts are follow-up questions and some thoughts that I hope to one-day discuss with Chris and Julien in a special episode of On the Record…Online, but up to now have been unable to lock down that interview.

I am integrating much of this intelligence into the New Media and Social Media PR Boot Camp, a monthly course that I teach for PRSA. I intend to include the book among the recommended reading I suggest to workshop attendees. If you’re interested in the workshop, I upload my decks here.

NOTE: If Chris Brogan or Julien Smith would like me to unpublish this document, please @reply me and I will comply. Thanks for your insights in Trust Agents.

Time saving tools:

  • Spinvox.com for transposing VM to text
  • Jott.com for translating voice notes into text emails
  • Woot.com – Close out shopping marketplace.

Pg. 150 – Make a habit of publishing your thoughts regularly.

My Follow-Up Questions

  • Is there any guidance on the ratio of positive to negative thoughts that should be published? Is Robert Scoble’s sense of optimism part of what makes him so popular?
  • What about the danger of over exposure? Can you tarnish your own reputation be being a little too active in social media channels?
Pg. 152 – The Web is very open to embracing new people, as long as they’re not selling anyone anything.

My Follow-Up Question: Isn’t this really the biggest problem with social media from an investment standpoint? Audiences are fickle, expect everything for free and in many cases interpret advertising as a violation of privacy. But sooner or later, if you’re using social media for business purposes, a measurable transaction needs to take place. What guidelines do you have for converting conversations into transactions?

Pg. 153 – Never leave an empty unused account anywhere, because it’s as much an indicator of neglect as a dirty desk. Make the majority of your content conversational rather than solicitous, because it shows you’re genuinely listening and involved.

Pg. 167 – Addressing the issue of one-way intimacy is also important. This means toms of people know who you are, but you don’t know a lot about them…If you’re not working to maintain your network, it dwindles and shrivels up form lack of use.

Pg. 168 – Plan up front by being careful not to set expectations that you can’t manage once your circle or community reaches a certain size.

Pg. 171 – Software built specifically for contact management includes Highrise form 37 Signals, Batchbook from BatchBlue

Pg. 183 – We have an infinite supply of goods and services looking for our consumption.

My Follow-Up Question: What about monopolies? Does this mean they don’t need to engage, since they are the only game in town?

Pg. 192 – While we both used nicknames in early BBS interactions in the 1990s, we began using our real names in the Web. This may not be for everyone; some use their pseudonyms forever, which is fine too.

My Follow-Up Question: From an SEO standpoint, isn’t there inherit value in using your own name (REPUTATION MANAGEMENT STORY)

P6. 193 – Acting nice has a lot to do with what people will think of you later, and in circumstances where you can just walk away, you tend to care a lot less what people think or how they’ll react. This behavior can be as antisocial as spamming. (FILTERS STORY: Matt Cassel’s response to my FB post with a link to the story about the USMC ad campaign in the NYT. This examples shows how an interaction discovered through a filter after the fact can shape your reputation.)

Pg. 194 – Being transparent on the Web fosters empathy, creating a stronger understanding of people’s feelings both online and off.

My thoughts: Transparency fosters empathy. Ambiguity fosters discomfort. And opacity breeds hate.

Some of the first things we learn about people online are their feelings.

Pg. 196-7 – Trust Agent Inspired Boot Camp Slide

  1. Answer the Phone – social media channels are like phones. when they ring, answer them.
  2. Learn the Three As – Acknowledge, Apologize, Act
  3. Customers Shoot Back – Customer experiences get logged on social media, and those experience shape your reputation when your name gets searched in the future. CUSTOMER SERVICE IS THE PR.

Pg. 200 – Not responding is rude. Respond promptly. Spelling and grammar matter. But they don’t need to be perfect. Respond, send, gone, next.

Pg. 202 – Trust Agent Inspired Boot Camp Slide: Maintaining Your Network

  • Make constant touches
  • Connect people together constantly
  • Link fervently
    Mix up the transmission methods

Pg. 203 – The web game becomes a series of decisions about what to put out online — and what not to. You should always be thinking not only about what impression you will leave today, but possibly what impression you’ll leave in the future.

Pg. 205 – Think, instead, about all this social interaction as “widest part of the funnel” sales activity, should you need to sell in one thing or another (and remember, we are all selling).

Pg. 207 – Some Real World Tips

  • Posture
  • Eye Contact
  • Hovering
  • Smiling

Pg. 208 – On the web, just as with putting it on paper, being helpful in full view of others helps guide into being a trust agent, and that gives you the opportunity to do more business. And, unlike conspicuously making an effort to be nice because other people will see, the web just displays it naturally, because everything is in public view. being helpful becomes not only a great thing to do, but also a good strategic move.
Pg. 209 – If you had a shop, that would be your blog; you’re trying to increase foot traffic and walk-ins as much as possible, so write often and make sure that what you write there represents you.

First impressions last a long time, so leaving a good one is common sense. Doing it online, though, isn’t obvious. Your web site (or its outposts or Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can often be your first impression, which is why presentation matters.

Pg. 210 – We particularly like casual or arty pictures. [In reference to setting up profiles]

Pg. 213 – Share your influence, even if you have only a little…Whatever means you use, help those who have fewer readers than you do.

How to get followed on Twitter
  • Have a user name that is similar to yourname or nickname
  • Have tweets. Don’t add people until you have several dozen messages on your page.
  • Have as many people as possible following you, b/c people like to follow important people.
  • Never let your following/follower ration reach more than 1.
  • @ reply often and respond to users comments. Participation encourages inclusion.
  • When you follow someone new, send them an @ reply so they’ll see a message to them at the top of their page when they check in.

Pg. 215 – If the social web gives business the opportunity to rehumanize, it’s at the risk of overwhelming those within a company entrusted with that role, because one person can’t scale beyond certain limits.

Pg. 218 – can corporations trust external trust agents with their business relationships indefinitely?

Pg. 219 – GM Tahoe ad campaigns is called a failure, but according to Frank Rose, it was not. Product performance as in issue.

Pg. 220 – Instead of asking one person to make all the effort, we can ask 100 people for a fractions and get even greater results.

Pg. 223 – But spreading information by email isn’t the only way. Now blogs and recommendation tools like Digg and Reddit allow their communities to submit news and other ideas, helping them to be seen by tens of thousands of people. in effect, they are formalizing the information-spreading process, creating an infrastructure fro it that minimizes the workload needed for people to received information that’s interesting to them.

Pg. 224 – This is because recommendation engines use what you vote on to help determine what’s relevant to other users, which in turn helps stories to be spread to the people who might be interested in them. Social recommendation has become so powerful that even BusinessWeek and other mainstream news media sites have Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon buttons on their articles. They know how much traffic and attention these sites can bring, and by encouraging their readers to vote, each can help build toward the critical mass necessary to bring an article to its front page. Even traditional media like Men’s Health magazine seem to be designing articles with the intention of reaching the front pages of these sites.

Having an army of like-minded people whose voices are heard helps you reach the critical mass that will take your message to the next plateau.

Mass marketers followed mass production. Bigger super markets beat tiny markets. Chain restaurants replaced cafes. But the thing is, people’s tastes seem to be changing…Now that email overload has crushed us, long after fax marketing came and went, with mainstream newspaper and magazine advertising in decline, and with television ads being deleted by digital video recorders, new methods are being tested all the time. Social media is one of these methods, and its intimacy is knitting a core group of people.

[Rules of SM Engagement]

  • Simple gestures matter. Saying a few words back to everyone you can touch in a given hour is a nice way for people to feel heard and seen.
  • Remember to visit other people’s sites, to participate in other people’s things, and to make conversation about them.
  • Give as much as you can to your loyal community. Empower people within it to lead in their own ways. promote people within your community to help them feel part of the core experience.
Pg. 233 – With the YouTube video, the implicit agreement may be, “By passing this among your friends, you’ll get credit of finding something funny,” the same way you can tell a joke in a bar and make people laugh. You also get credit for helping out, a small favor of sorts.

Pg. 238 – Not in the last 50 years or more has the balance of business interactions and communications been so in favor of smaller, more personal interactions that it is right now.

Pg. 245 – “Yes, and” is important because it helps contribute to any scene in which improvisers are involved. So when you’re on stage, it’s always more important to accept what someone else just said (that’s the “Yes”) and then add to what they’re contributing (that’s the and).

Pg. 258 – Attention is and will continue to be our scarcest resource. As such, in business, we feel that trust and the humanizing of business is where the action is.

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