Chris Brogan, Trust Agents and Social Media: Old-Fashioned Common Sense

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation made my Chris Brogan.  Through Thursday you can purchase a DVD of the eventChristine Taylor and JTMar partnered with Stage Post Studios to not only make Chris available in person to several hundred Nashvillians, but they also streamed the event online, including incorporating questions via Twitter and by phone all in real time.  Everyone in attendance also receive an autographed copy of Chris’ new book Trust Agents, written with Julien Smith.

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan, co-author of Trust Agents

Photo credit, affiliatesummit

The name Chris Brogan has become synonymous with all things social media.  Many consider him to be the authority on the subject and the single best example for individuals desiring to be viewed as thought leaders and influencers and for companies hoping to more intimately connect with customers.

Needless to say, none of us were disappointed.  However, I did find myself continually thinking, “This all sounds so familiar.”  Chris himself mentioned more than once that so much of what works in the online world is truly nothing more than good ol’ fashioned common sense.  Help other people first.

I think Zig Ziglar said it best years ago:  “You can get everything in life you want, if you can just help enough other people get what they want.”  You could even go back a little further.  Remember the Golden Rule?  To paraphrase, it says, in essence, treat other people the way you yourself desire to be treated.  Or, as Chris so succinctly puts it,  exercise some “common sense.”

Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents

Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents

Photo credit, affiliatesummit

It shouldn’t be hard, right?  Yet every day, each of us finds ourselves interacting with someone who has either failed to understand it, or understands it and is simply choosing to ignore it (maybe, heaven forbid, it’s that person in the mirror).  The best illustration I’ve ever heard that really helped to put this into perspective came from Chris yesterday.

Imagine someone you’re being introduced to for the first time has just reached out to shake your hand.  You oblige and then waste no time as you stick your tongue in their mouth.

As extreme as that sounds, it’s essentially what so many who don’t “get it” are doing every day.  How many times do you receive a friend request on Facebook (or a “follow” on Twitter or, name your platform) from someone you don’t know – and who hasn’t taken the time to even include a personal message of introduction – that is soon followed by a note about what services or product they offer that you might be interested in?

If you’ve ever chatted with someone with experience waiting tables, you’re likely to find they view the Sunday “after church” crowd as one of the worst group of tippers around (at least that’s what my anecdotal research reveals).  In some cases, the waiter or waitress is more likely to find a tract (a plan of salvation) than a tip once the table empties (just what the world needs: Christians who go around sticking their tongues in people’s mouths).

I’m embarrassed to admit that 25 years ago, as a young believer, I actually did this.  Mind you, I left a tip too, but apparently had no problem with leaving a stranger’s eternal destination up to a piece of paper.  As far as I was concerned, I’d fulfilled my obligation.  If the message didn’t sink in, that was their problem.  Investing in people’s lives was hard.  This was so much easier.  “Hurray, I planted another seed,” I told myself.

Did any of them take root?  The evidence is weak at best.  Let’s just say that if and when I get to heaven, I doubt there will be anyone eager to shake my hand.

This post is dedicated to my grandfather, William Otis Holladay, who, at 91, passed away earlier today.  A veteran of World War II, he was the epitome of common sense.  I have no doubt that in heaven, there is a long line ready to greet him.

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Are You Social Media Director Worthy?

Earlier today, I read a week-old post from Olivier Blanchard on what companies should look for in hiring a social media director (not quite sure how I missed it originally).  In a word, the post is simply fantastic.


The Brand Builder

If you’ve been handed your company’s social media reigns, charged with hiring this person for your company, or hoping someday soon to be that person that gets hired to spearhead social media for a given company, this post contains most everything you should know or at least start working on in the meantime.

I challenge you to read the entire post (it’s a little long but hang in there) and NOT imagine which of the three “types” you are.  It’s an exercise I think you’ll find quite valuable.  I know I did.   And be sure to peruse the comments too (93 at this writing).  There are some great conversations happening here.

While you’re at it, if you’re on Twitter, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re following Olivier.

Twitterverse Navigation: Public Figures Who Get It Wrong (And a Few Who Get It Right)

I’ve been a participant on Twitter for several months now.  In that time, I’ve read dozens of articles on how to and how not to interact within the Twitter community.  It’s certainly safe to say that there are as many opinions as there are participants on how Twitter can best be utilized.  And, for each individual or company who chooses to set up shop, goals can certainly vary.  Heck, ask 14 people to describe Twitter and you’ll get nearly 14 different answers.

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When it comes to traditional brands, a handful are content to strictly abide by the Twitter mantra, “What are you doing?” Their tweets are often a continuous stream of broadcasts.  In other words, an on-going, one-way conversation.  Rare are the responses, or @replies, to the questions or comments from others.

Most would agree that companies using Twitter in this way would be better off not showing up at all.  No one wants a product constantly pushed in their face while at the same time feeling company X is oblivious to what’s going on around them.  Thankfully, it seems more and more companies are putting a great deal of thought into their Twitter strategy.

Are You Not Entertained?

I often wonder though why similar, traditional brand behavior seems to be the rule and not the exception for many of the public figures I follow on Twitter.  While I’ve been encouraged by the number of Christian musicians, authors, radio personalities and consultants I’ve discovered on Twitter, with most there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of interaction taking place between them and their followers.  In fact, the sense I often get from their tweets is, “Isn’t it cool being a fly on the wall of my life?”

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If you’re a public figure who uses Twitter in this way then that’s your call.  And I’ll be the first to say that, for some of your fans, it might be enough.  But have you ever given any thought to what it says about your personal brand?

Having said this, I realize that in the Twitterverse it’s entirely possible that those I perceive as not interacting very often with fans are indeed doing so via DM, or direct message (a message that can be sent only to people who follow you that no one else can see).  Michael Hyatt (@michaelhyatt) is a good example.  When he responds to a tweet from me he often does so by firing back a DM.  My experience though shows that he’s likely the exception.

Engagement vs. Convenience

This limited interaction on Twitter is often coupled with another phenomenon.  Most artists, authors and radio personalities I see on Twitter aren’t following even 5% as many people as are following them.  In fact, many seem to be following only other people within the industry (and maybe personal friends).

When asked about it, one artist I talked to expressed the difficulty in choosing one fan over another. I wonder if some worry about being inundated with DMs from followers.  There are certainly plenty of cons when it comes to DMs.  How about following everyone by default, then leaving yourself the option of blocking the occasional nut case if and when necessary?

To me there seems to be a desire for the best of both worlds as long as those worlds don’t intertwine.  It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George’s two worlds – the world of “relationship” George and that of “independent” George – threaten to do just that.  George views his independent world as his sanctuary and Elaine’s decision to develop a friendship with George’s girlfriend Susan may ultimately mean the demise of that sanctuary.

Twinfluence?

I recently received an e-mail from a record label rep touting the popularity of a particular artist’s Twitter stream.  According to TwitterGrader, this particular artist ranked in the top 2,000 out of over a million twitterers.  Now, I don’t pretend to understand all the algorithms TwitterGrader uses to calculate their rankings, however I do know your number of followers and the power of their networks plays into it heavily.  What is truly unfortunate though is that the number of people you’re following along with the frequency and quality of your engagement with them has little to nothing to do with it.  Shame on Twitter.

To quote @johnhaydon from CorporateDollar.org, “On Twitter, it’s less about how many followers you have and more about the ‘health’ of your conversations with them.”

Instead, try this.

Is Twitter a passing fad?  Possibly.  Will it exist in even 5 years?  Probably not in the same way it does today.  In the meantime then, I hope this post can serve not as an indictment, but a challenge.  While Twitter is in the mix and growing more popular by the day, why not make the most of it?  If you see some of yourself in this post, I hope you’ll accept the challenge and venture outside your comfort zone a little more.

Twitter’s Pied Pipers?

Finally, for fear of not delivering on the title of my post, I’ve compiled a couple of lists, in alphabetical order by first name.  The first is a list of those I think need to be challenged to follow more fans; fans they’ll attempt to regularly engage.  Keep in mind this list is by no means exhaustive.  Remember too that the opinions I’ve expressed here may in fact be mine and mine alone.  If you disagree, then say so by all means.  If you agree, tell me that too.

Please understand that I believe every public figure mentioned below is an absolute pro.  I’m confident each and every one of them goes out of their way for their fans/readers/listeners/clients.  All I’m saying is I’d like to see them take what they’re already doing in the real world and consider applying more of it to this platform.  That’s all.

Some you’ll recognize as recording artists, while others are radio personalities, authors and colleagues.  In each case, note their following to follower (F2F) ratio.  The number of people they personally follow is first.  The number of people following them is second.

  1. Aaron Shust (recording artist) – 13 to 701
  2. Alan Mason (Consultant, Good Ratings Strategic Services) – 3 to 90
  3. Bart Millard (recording artist, Mercy Me) – 26 to 2,250
  4. Bebo Norman (recording artist) – 21 to 856
  5. Carmen Brown, Dave Cruse, Bill Martin, Jayar and “The Morning Cruise” combined (On-air Talent, The Joy FM / Tampa, Florida) – 140 to 1,843
  6. The David Crowder Band (recording artist) – 18 to 1,697
  7. Jeremy Camp (recording artist) – 92 to 2,481
  8. Leeland (recording artist)- 24 to 1,574
  9. Michael W. Smith (recording artist) – 10 to 2,105
  10. Phil Wickham (recording artist) – 25 to 2,582
  11. Rebecca St. James (recording artist) – 61 to 1,287

I’ve noticed too that not everyone who strives to follow more than a few people is actually doing a lot of listening.  Glenn Lavender of Downhere, Shaun Groves, Bryan White, Melinda Doolittle and Phil Stacey have decent F2F ratios, however, all do quite a bit more broadcasting than actual engaging, at least right now. 

Lastly, here is a list of a few folks I think are doing a pretty good job of engaging and listening to their followers/fans.  Again, note their F2F ratio.

  1. Cameron Strang (publisher) – 552 to 2,127
  2. Charlie Neese (Newschannel 5 Meteorologist) – 209 to 304
  3. Jeff Cruz (Music Director, Z88.3 / Orlando) – 132 to 145
  4. Mark Lee (recording artist, Third Day) – 2,078 to 2,143
  5. Matthew Paul Turner (author) – 1,827 to 1,747
  6. MC Hammer (former recording artist) – 20,349 to 31,047
  7. Michael Hyatt (CEO, Thomas Nelson Publishing) – 4,948 to 4,700
  8. Pete Wilson (Pastor, Cross Point Church) – 1,220 t0 2,034
  9. Star 99.1 FM / New York (radio station) – 1,999 to 715

Max Lucado, Charlie Lowell (Jars of Clay), Stephen Mason (Jars of Clay) and Vicky Beeching don’t follow many people relative to the number following them, but they’re interacting with others constantly.  This is great to see!  Natalie Grant and Mark Hall are two others I’d like to see follow more people, but recently they both seem to be deliberately interacting more.  Same goes for Fee.

Still, for much of the industry, the focus seems to be on gathering more followers and not necessarly the conversations along the way.  I predict that if you’ll put more effort into the engagement part of the process, at least one residual affect will be exponentially more followers.  They’ll also likely be a lot more loyal and passionate about who you are and what you do than if you continue to view them as customers you can sell your message to.