Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book Review - "Trust Agents" by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith

Finished reading "Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust" and found it to be a solid read with lots of things to check out.

It's written by Julien Smith and Chris Brogan (who is probably the more well known of the two as a result of his blog and associated Social Media evangelism). I heard about the book from the Dec 2009 BusinessWeek story "Beware Social Media Snake Oil" and found him to have a lot of interesting things to say.

Social Media as a category is a fascinating growth area (for both business and interpersonal communication) and I've written about and linked to a good amount of content on it... much of that consolidated into this blog post from a few weeks ago. Linked within there was four or five magazine articles and three different books that deal at least a bit with Social Media... one by Jeff Jarvis, one Sarah Lacy and one Scott Rosenberg.

Back to "Trust Agents" itself, though... having already said that it's a good read for someone interesting in Social Media, there's probably also value is detailing the things I found of most interest and websites from the book I want to check out.

So... stuff of note (you know, to me, so some of this is straight out of the book and some my ideas as a result of content in the book):

Intro - The aforementioned Chris Brogan blog.

Chapter One: Trust, Social Capital, and Media
- Idea of a Trust Agent building a portfolio of themselves through their online interactions... a very real and complete resume of sorts.
- Things to consider around blogging... usage of Word Press as a hosting service a step above Blogger, usage of Copy Blogger for writing and both LinkedIn Answers & LinkedIn Reading List for Social Media content, commenting on other blogs.

Chapter Two: Make Your Own Game
- The Four Hour Workweek blog by Tim Ferriss and how he both wrote a bestselling book of the same name and basically created the category of Lifestyle Design from scratch.
- Links and comments are basically a form of currency is building a personal brand on the web.
- The Guy Kawasaki blog.
- Hacking as a way of doing something different... and better. Much easier to hack work when at a small firm than large corporation.
- Affiliate Marketing site Commission Junction.

Chapter Three: One of Us
- Quality of website / blog gives a powerful impression of someone.
- Importance of being human in online communications.
- the Guy Kawasaki website Alltop... featuring tons and tons of content in different areas.
- Concept of searching the web (possibly using Technorati or Google Blogsearch) for groups interested in the things you're interesting in.
- Yet again, the idea of comments on other's blogs as a valuable form of currency. Site to check out around comments is BackType.

Chapter Four: Archimedes Effect
- Chapter is about the idea of leverage... in both time utilization and accomplishment.
- Idea of RSS Reader usage, such as Google Reader.
- The seemingly non-profit focused website Drupal as well as the Chris Brogan launched parenting site Dad-O-Matic.

Chapter Five: Agent Zero
- No, not a Gilbert Arenas (he of the Agent Zero nickname) reference.
- The idea seems to be a restating of the Trust Agent concept... someone who uses the web to make connections, between people, companies and ideas.
- Links, links, links and... links.
- Dynamic usage of LinkedIn.

Chapter Six: Human Artist
- As stated before, have to be human on the web.
- If hoping for a response from someone you're reaching out to... first make a connection, then look at being a part of their world by commenting, then perhaps reach out in a short manner with your specific question.
- Keep your connections live by regular touches.

Chapter Seven: Build an Army & Chapter Eight: The Trust Agent
- Getting into summarizing the prior chapters, but still valuable... thinking about the idea of Make Your Own Game and what future businesses (and categories of business) are to be built.
- If it's important to you, there's value in it... and probably others as well. Good principle to think about when looking at where to invest time and energy.


Intent in this blog post wasn't to provide a Cliff Notes version of the book, but rather to create a record of what I felt of import from it and the links it pointed to. Really an interesting topic this Social Media thing and quite frankly, someone else would likely have different ideas that stand out to them from reading the book.

Highly recommend to anyone interested in the topic.