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76-Word Book Review: Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Short version (76 words)

I read Trust Agents over the course of a Saturday in preparation to deliver a talk to a sales group about using social media. Thankfully, Trust Agents is more about how to interact with people online than how to start tweeting. The book is clear and details how you can succeed with online tools, so as long as you have goals in mind, the time to pull it off, and the attitude that trust is everything.

Long version (369 words)

I plan on giving this book away tomorrow. I'm passing it on to people at work as I think it has a direct benefit to what they do every day. I pass along books from time to time, but so few have such a direct application to someone's line of work so quickly. Of course, by giving it away, I'm conceding that I won't need to read it again, and I'm fairly certain I won't, thanks to Chris Brogan's blog.

But the book is more than Brogan's and Julien Smith's online thoughts. Thankfully, there is very little tech talk throughout the 260 pages. If you want to learn the basics of Facebook, you'll need to go buy another book. Or you could just – as Brogan and Smith suggest – set up an account and start learning things for yourself.

The book makes no bold promises that upon its completion you'll be making millions (friends or dollars). It does break down and completely define the concept of online trust, which is slightly different than offline trust. The authors are clear to draw a clear line between each, however, showing how being an agent of trust on the Web can build your brand everywhere.

The book's thesis is hidden on page 176:

We didn't really intend to discuss specific tools in this book. One reason is that these tools will change on a regular basis. The other reason is that we're saying that the human stuff is far more important than the software.... Use the tools that work to reach the people you need. Use them well, but know that they're just tools.

Trust Agents is a great resource for anyone starting a role where they are required to build trust. With my nonprofit hat on, I'd say its as integral to nonprofit marketers as Kivi Leroux Miller's "The First 100 Days" guide is. And for those outside of the 501(c)3 world – like those I'll be speaking to soon – you'll find benefit as it comes to attracting and retaining customers.

Even I – who have been using social media for a while for both personal and professional reasons – learned quite a few things I can immediately do in order to continue building trust online.