How Important is Trust? A Review of Trust Agents


We can all go on in volumes about the virtues of trust, but when talking about your online presence, we really haven't delved into how important trust plays in establishing yourself. When’s the last time you bought a gadget, camera, computer, television without reading the reviews? How about a beauty product? A pair of shoes? Personally, I know that I rarely buy something without at least checking out the brand online, if not buying it based on reviews, or a testimonial from a blog post.  Oddly enough, I think that says more about the value of trust than it does money… I don't trust companies but I do trust you.  Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s new book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust say in their new book, the most valuable online currency isn’t the dollar, but trust itself.

With so many things competing for our attention, it has become the scarcest resource, having a positive reputation can make all the difference in the world in getting attention. These days building your blog, your community, your business relies heavily your reputation on how trustworthy you are, go figure, it works the same way in real life.

I bought the book last week, and unlike many other business books, Trust Agents makes a lot of sense, and a lot of it is common sense, though it’s surprising how many people enter the social media sphere not realizing it’s about community. In reality, the book might as well be titled ‘How to be a Nice Person’

Brogan and Smith did a great job of outlining just how to become a trust agent, how to build your community in a transparent and trustworthy way by mapping out the elements: being one making your own game (there’s loads of gaming history in this chapter… for someone non-gaming…yikes!), being useful, the value of making connections for other people, being human, and building an army. It really articulated what so many successful online people do inherently, and yet no one’s really put it all in one place quite like this.

This book isn’t a quick fix, it’s not a technology book, I found it to have timeless advice, like be useful and know good jokes (not imperative, but I like that!). Here are some of the main things I took from the book:

Be human– no one wants to be friends with a robot (unless they’re a ramen making robot)
The importance of being ‘one of us'
– well, I've always believed in this, it's important to establish trust among your peers, having validation on this is nice.
Praise your competitors– it speaks volumes about your own confidence
Don’t suck up —bring people up- no one likes a suck up, and everyone is grateful to the ones who gave them a chance early in the game.
Promote other people 12 times as much as you promote yourself –  We know people who don’t promote other ever… and we know what we think about them.
Your heroes, they just have more experience, now– It’s just a matter of getting as much of your own experience, to be a hero in your own way.

And there is so much more. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by reading this, like some of the more testosterone pumped marketing books I’ve come across, and I really loved the humility of the approach.

If this is where business is going, if it’s going down the more human route, the world is definitely going to be a better place, and it has my attention.

Well all know how important trust is in real life, but how important is trust to you online?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

28 Responses

  1. thefatandskinny

    this is great advice. i might have to read that book. i really like this tip “Your heroes, they just have more experience, now.” So, so true.
    .-= thefatandskinny´s last blog ..You Asked For It… =-.

  2. dreamsequins

    I like this article a lot. I’m still a new blog on the block, and feel grateful when other blogs leave me comments or send links my way. I try to spread the love, and by staying humble and keeping my blog personal, I think it’s helped me make some truly meaningful connections with my readers.
    .-= dreamsequins´s last blog ..Two Awards + One Tag! =-.

  3. lisa

    Great review. The book sounds like it has such an interesting premise; I’ll have to check it out.

    I’d say trust is very important to me. I like a certain level of candour and sincerity in blogs and I try to do the same. People who are always full of praise for goods and services, all the time, as opposed to people who write balanced reviews or might occasionally really dislike something–I start getting a bit suspicious. 😉
    .-= lisa´s last blog ..Stylish Awards =-.

  4. Ashe Mischief

    I think trust is of the utmost important between the writer and reader. If any one reading my own blog felt over a period of time they couldn’t trust something I had written, I’d want them to let me know and explain what made them feel that way. I know how I respond when I feel that I’ve lost trust in the writer… and while you may continue to read their blog, there’s a certain magic missing. You’re less likely to want to click on their links, buy through their affiliates, etc.
    .-= Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..Indie Designers: Anonymous Agent =-.

  5. Jennine

    ❤ fat and skinny… i like to think about that too! it’s such an inspiration
    ❤ dreamsequins… oh yes.. well, i don’t think you’re such a new blog anymore! but it’s always good to have a fresh attitude… and helpful to keep that, because things are always changing, so we’re all always new.
    ❤lisa… oh yeah, because nothing is ever 100%awesome.
    ❤ashe… very good point, it’ happened a few times, but luckily not too much. but you’re right, it’s hard to win back the trust once it’s been tarnished.

  6. LaDolceVita

    Love this. I am brand spanking new on the blogging block and learning so much everyday. I’ve had my blog up for about a year but only in the past six months begin to post everyday. It takes a lot of confidence, drive and determination to blog. This piece is truly motivational and has given me that much more boost to keep going. A lot has happen in the past few weeks and I am grateful to be apart of the community. Thanks for posting.

  7. Shannon

    Great post! I a newer blogger as well but now that I am starting to get noticed by PR reps I am thinking a lot about maintaining trust, transparency, and keeping things on my terms. The main points you took away from the book are great ones. I am going to keep them in the back of my mind.. maybe even sticky note them to my monitor. I especially like Praise your competitors and Be human
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Martin + Osa Denim reviews and GWP =-.

  8. Macala Wright

    Chris Brogan was one of the biggest influencers in me taking my tech experience and moving it back into fashion. I often tell him, you kinda “MADE” me (he was afraid of me at first too can you believe it?). If a blogger only reads one book this year, I think it should be Brogan’s. And if they read two or three, then may I suggest Brian Solis‘s “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” and Tara Hunt‘s “The Whuffie Factor”. That is some serious reading and would move any one to the next level of understanding.
    .-= Macala Wright´s last blog ..Fashionably Late to the Social Media Party? =-.

  9. rollergirl

    Thought-provoking. As more PRs schmooze bloggers it becomes harder to be impartial as, well, we all like the attention (and freedies) but it makes it harder to then criticize that brand. Wish this book has been around when I started my blog!
    .-= rollergirl´s last blog ..Sartorialust =-.

  10. Camille Canon


    I couldn’t agree more. I find most books of this sort boring and difficult to get through without having my mind wander, but with The Trust Agents I felt like I was having a great conversation with someone the whole book! You should also check out Matt Kain’s review, his experience in the field really adds light to the subject: