TRUST ME: Review of “TRUST AGENTS: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation & Gain Trust”



In my ongoing quest to learn about social media and how it applies to my life as a writer, I’ve attempted to review one of my favorite books on the topic. Would appreciate your thoughts & comments.

TRUST AGENTS (by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith) fascinated me from the beginning, not just for the subject matter but the community that the authors were busy building around it months before it came out.

I was so charmed by the book’s Facebook fan page — in which Chris and Julien asked questions, sparked off conversations and made the dialogue about other people as much as if not more than their product — that I ended up buying a second copy just because I liked and trusted them.

So the marketing for the book became a demonstration and natural extension of the book: by the time I picked up Trust Agents, I was picking up the next part of an already ongoing conversation.

The interesting thing about Trust Agents is how…old-fashioned…it seems even as it discusses the new technology that is changing the very concept of what advertising/marketing is and should be.

The book tells you to be yourself (the best, most savvy, authentic original ‘you’ you can be), make your own game, be real, treat people well, give more than you get, talk less and listen more, etc.: this is how you win friends and influence people (and, as a happy benefit of that, spread your message).

Brogan and Smith map all this onto the ever-shifting face of social media that is killing off mass advertising and the idea of the “controlled message”.

In an online world where there’s no place to hide, and where your digital footprint will trail you forever, the message is no longer just what you say it is, but who you are and how you treat people.

Broadcasting is out; connecting and community-building are in.

Those who learn to use the tools of social media as a means to that end — an end that remains the same even as the tools themselves continue to evolve — will become Trust Agents, flourishing in the new economy that is measured through attention and influence; others will find themselves a vanishing point in the distance, insisting that Twitter is a ‘fad’ and wondering just what the hell happened.

Trust Agents is engaging, informative, and, in the end, a very human look at a whole new kind of game. Highly recommended.

* But you should never, ever call yourself a Trust Agent. It’s like the guy who says, “Hey, you can trust me” in the opening stages of a negotiation. If you have to sell yourself as something, usually it’s a sign that that is exactly what you’re not.

Oct 18, 2009

4 comments · Add Yours

I promise not to ‘comment’ you to death.

“Trust Agents” is a very good book. You’ve given a great overview above.

Another good social media book to consider is “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day” by Dave Evans. I’m not very far into it because it’s not a ‘why you should’ as much as it is a practical how-to without having it consume one’s existence. It is a dense book but very readable.

SM can be a black hole/time suck that one falls into in any given day and can’t seem to climb out of. This book gives an approach that allows one to learn how to progress in a measured fashion.

If one looks at my attempts to understand and apply all the ‘rules’ of SM, it’s fairly evident that I have a lot to learn. A lot. These books are quite different but give some great advice and direction to follow.

Charles Gupton


No, no, comment me to death! What a great way to die. :)


Exceptional write up, perfectly spelled out.


My partner and i loved your post.


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