Who are your Trust Agents?
An interview with Chris Brogan
by Mike Myatt
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Brogan. Chris is the President of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing agency. With the market being awash of so called social media “experts,” Chris, who would never refer to himself as such, is absolutely the real deal. In addition to running a successful agency, Chris has reached celebrity status as a blogger, social media advisor, and most recently as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “Trust Agents”.
If you want to see Chris at work, just follow him on Twitter where his followers (now numbering more than 100,000) represent one of the most fiercely loyal and engaged communities on the web. However, what I admire most about Chris is that with all his success he has remained one of the true nice guys in the business. On with the interview…
The world of social media has not only become big business, but it’s also become one of the most crowded niches in today’s business world. What has been the thing that differentiates you from the legions of other social media advisors?
I don’t try to compete with other social media types. Instead, I try to work with companies on ideas that improve their business communications efforts. My background in social media is 11 years long and growing. My background in online community participation and then leadership starts in the mid-80s. So, instead of being a marketing professional who figured out social media, I’m a social media native who learned some things to help people do vibrant things with their marketing and internal communications.
What inspired you to write “Trust Agents”?
I’m working on building out information that others can use to empower their own efforts. Blogs are great, but the idea of a book was that people could share it with their colleagues, their bosses, their clients, whoever needs to know. It’s a chance to share the bigger ideas of what I think works underneath the movement of using social media, and to give people much more than the ‘which tool is cool’ type stuff I’m reading mostly these days.
How is social media impacting your clients?
My clients realize that these tools allow people to be human again, that we can have a face on the brand. There are plenty of opportunities for people to build relationships. For example, one of my clients, Citrix Online (who do GoToMyPC, GoToWebinar, etc) were looking to reach more people interested in the mobile and distributed workforce. We created workshifting.com, which is a group blog that engages people without being any kind of an ad for their product. In fact, nearly none of the posts have anything to do with their products directly. Instead, we write about the kinds of challenges facing people who workshift for some parts of a week. My other clients, Cisco, Microsoft, Sony Electronics USA, etc, are all enjoying the chance to connect with people in a much more personable level.
Up to this point, can you point to any single defining moment in your career?
I’m not sure I’ve had my most defining moment. Personally, hitting both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller’s list for my ideas was great, but as my clients go, or in my overall business, I haven’t really hit my biggest success just yet. My clients are happy and have all kinds of appreciative things to say, but I don’t feel like I’ve really taken things high enough or deep enough or successful enough.
How do you gauge your success on a day-to-day basis?
On a day to day basis, my sense of success comes from trying to be as responsive as possible, to the most people possible, and from working on delivering actionable ideas to people for their efforts (be those clients, or readers of my blog). Any day I can help someone move the needle forward is a good day for me. Working with big clients gives me the chance to try big ideas, and when we can see some signs of success, that’s what matters the most to me.
What is the toughest part of your day?
Great question. Not being able to respond fast enough to everything is my cross right now. I’ve over 129 unprocessed emails right now collected over the last few days. I’m traveling so much and working some very long hours, and very few of them are in front of a computer to answer email, so I’m frustrated but trying to accomplish more every day. I’m re-reading Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less to try and improve that all the more.
If you could give any advice to our readers what would it be?
Be helpful, be consistent, be everywhere. I’m doing everything I can to equip people to do new things with their business goals, but I feel this advice is timeless and yet timely. We’ve somehow become selfish, as businesses and as people, and my goal is to help empower people to think about others as much as they can, and to derive sustainable business value from doing it.
What’s next for Chris Brogan?
I’m working on editing my second book, which will be a much more typical ‘about social media’ book, and working on the proposal for the third book (my second with Julien Smith) which will be a shift from where “Trust Agents” left off. We’re writing about how human business works, and what we believe will be the DNA of disruption. It should be quite different from “Trust Agents“, and yet, in compatibility with what we’ve written there.
As you can tell from the interview, Chris is focused, smart, and totally engaged with his market. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who models the definition of customer-centric like Chris does. Thanks for sharing Chris…
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