The book “Trust Agents” describes how you can use the Internet to become an agent of influence, in the sense of a specialist who is well versed in Internet tools, influential and trusted by clients thanks to his knowledge.
Chris Brogan is a well-known American blogger, journalist, and marketing consultant.
Julien Smith is a consultant, lecturer, and head of startup Breather, a company that leases premises for work and leisure.
This book is available as:
You Will Learn How to Become an Authority and Attract People for Your Projects.
Whether you like it or not, the development of the Internet has forever changed the style of our communication and exchange of information.
Companies and marketers around the world began to realize that It provides great opportunities for people who want to expand their sphere of influence, spread their ideas and promote projects that interest them.
They can become agents of influence: competent, friendly, open to the public, Internet age operators.
This book will give you answers to such questions:
- Why aggressive sales and advertising are useless today, while humanity and compassion produce an amazing effect.
- Why is it sometimes useful to belittle the merits of your own product.
- Why you need to look at life as a simple game where you score points.
The Summary you might like: Your Best Just Got Better
The Internet Has Spawned a New Kind of Marketer – an Influence Agent
We all know how deeply the advent of the Internet has affected our daily lives, but how can marketing techniques be adapted to it?
The most obvious change was the increased availability of information, which caused a decrease in people’s confidence in companies and their products.
Just a few decades ago, we were inclined to trust advertising and sellers, we simply had no choice. They really were the only sources of product information. Today, however, we can do our own research using Google, so we don’t have to believe the ads.
However, even in these incredulous times, there are people whom their clients trust, and therefore they enjoy great influence – they are agents of influence.
Although agents of influence represent companies or products, they gain trust through their knowledge, as well as friendliness, humanity and sociability. It really works in the world of new technologies, where agents of influence use their expertise to show customers how they can apply new, unfamiliar technologies to improve the quality of their own lives.
Typically, Agents of Influence Build Their Sphere of Influence on the Internet.
Let’s say you want to become an agent of influence. To get started, you need to create a public blog about what you are good at, such as digital photography. This will allow you to share your knowledge with potentially millions of photographers. Since you will not sell anything, they will consider you trustworthy.
But even though agents of influence do not sell things, they are still marketers and are able to correctly identify the opportunities from which they can benefit from the social capital that they have created.
For example, if your blog about photography has a lot of subscribers, you have social capital: people know and respect you, thanks for your exchange of experience. One way to monetize this can be to publish an e-book based on your blog, as your loyal subscribers are likely to be happy to buy it.
In the Following Parts, We Will Look at Some of the Key Features of Influence Agents and How You Can Match Them.
Think of life as a game.
- Are you stressed at work?
- What about stress during a computer game such as soccer or Monopoly?
Probably, there is no mention of it.
For some reason, the desire to win during a game seems easier than trying to achieve something in real life. So why not look at your life as a computer game? Certain elements of the game can help you succeed.
First of all, the game defines clear goals, for example, the exact number of points.
You must set the same clear goals in real life. For example, you might wish to recruit 10,000 subscribers per year.
Secondly, games often also include elements of competition. You need to awaken the spirit of friendly competition and in life in order to make yourself work better. The point is not to want to defeat your rivals – you just need to always try to be at the level or better than them.
Thirdly, games can be hacked: experienced players find secret codes and secrets that allow them to score more points.
You can do this in real life. For example, your work is a game, perhaps with the following rules: “You must be in the office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.” But ask yourself: is it possible to get around this rule? You could update it by talking with your boss: if the work is done, it doesn’t matter where you do it? Thus, you could start working at home to save time on transportation.
And the last lesson that can be learned from games: playing games is great, but it’s even better to create your own game and set your own rules.
The equivalent of creating your own game in real life can be a bold hobby for something unknown, the search for new ways where no one has yet been. Although a bit risky, the potential returns are really great. Just think: Twitter has become popular. Because its creators decided to see what happens if you reduce Internet communication to short SMS.
To Promote Your Product Online, Do Not Focus on Selling It
Everyone is annoyed by online advertising, whether it be spam mailings or annoying pop-ups.
This means the following: if you have a product that you want to promote, you simply cannot rely on these old marketing methods.
Instead, you need to become a trusted member of the community that you want to make your audience. You will not get there, trying to sell them things, you can do this by establishing personal relationships while being reliable and developing your personal authority.
Therefore, if you are introducing a product, do not try to impose it on people or sing odes to it at every opportunity. People hate it.
Instead, focus on active participation in the community, and you will soon notice that your product is moving along with you.
An example is the media company Comcast. They actively searched for Twitter users whose posts were related to their company and responded to them by offering their help. Although this innovative, precautionary type of customer service did not sell anything by itself, it did create a positive word of mouth within the Twitter community and raise Comcast brand ratings.
Another way to show how much you care about the community is to refrain from promoting your ego in favor of sincere interest in other people.
For example, support enterprising bloggers in the community and sincerely admire the product, even if you do not represent them. This shows that you value their contribution to the community even more than your own interests, so confidence in you will increase.
Sometimes it can even mean criticizing your own product. For example, while working as a technical evangelist at Microsoft, Robert Scoble criticized Internet Explorer on his blog. Ultimately, this behavior won him great trust and influence.
Start Building Online Connections to Attract More People and Increase Your Profile.
Many of us like to watch funny videos on Youtube or watch the Facebook feed, but such actions raise questions like this: do we really use the full potential of the Internet?
When it comes to some new technology, every inspired agent of influence should ask such a question. This is because agents of influence must know everything about new technologies.
So what is the purpose of new technologies?
In simple terms, their goal is to help us simplify our lives and make our actions faster and more efficient. In other words, new technologies function as leverage, improving the results of your actions.
For example, the invention of the aircraft allowed us to quickly travel to distant countries – in a couple of hours, not weeks.
The Internet produces a similar increase in efficiency: instead of going to mail to send letters, you simply send emails.
In Fact, the Biggest Potential of the Internet as a Lever is That It Makes It Easy to Reach Millions of People.
It is this leverage that agents of influence use to become more influential: they share their experiences on forums and blogs that millions read.
Moreover, the posts and comments of influence agents work on them without reference to the clock: they are read and shared by them, even when the influence agent sleeps or rests at sea.
So how to capitalize on this leverage?
Start building online communication channels with large groups of people that are easy for you to communicate with.
Do this even if you don’t yet have the business or product that you want to promote because when you have it, you will need a solid network of channels – and you will have it already established.
For example, if you once decide to raise money for a new project, you can use your subscriber base on Twitter as a lever to increase your reach.
Think about it: if you tweet a fundraising request to your 10,000 subscribers, you can raise a lot more money than by talking to a dozen work colleagues.
Become the Source Agent – the Center of Your Network
Do you know the type of people who seem to know everyone at the party?
These people are the starting agents. They are the centers of the network to which they belong, which means that everyone around them knows.
In fact, each inspired agent of influence should strive for such a status, because the source agent has an excellent opportunity to spread new ideas within.
Moreover, you can further expand your influence by finding the same source agents in other networks, because in this way you will increase your influence by encouraging them to spread their ideas as well.
Suppose you are the source agent in an online music forum. Then you can find on Facebook a group dedicated to local groups. Through contact with its founder, gain credibility in this network.
To build new communities, influence agents focus on selfless assistance to people in their own network. This allows them to become memorable and trustworthy.
What does this mean in practice?
Let’s Say You Want to Become an Influential Music Blogger.
The first thing you should do is let people know about your existence, so start increasing your visibility online. Create accounts on social networks such as Twitter and consider creating your own website. Then use retweets, comments, status updates and so on to interact with the community in which you want to be recognized as an authority – in this case, it will be artists and fans.
Then you should keep people interested – the fact that they simply know about you is not enough.
You can start to do this by selecting a few people whom you really want to meet, for example, music producers whom you admire – and then introduce yourself to them at real-life events. They can help get you more attention by linking to you on Twitter.
And finally, this attention should be embodied in authority. The more people who come to your site, the more reliable and authoritative your voice will sound.
Online etiquette is very simple: act as you do in real life.
If you’ve ever read comments on YouTube videos or CNN reporting, you were undoubtedly surprised to see how many people just don’t know how to behave on the Internet.
But this observation leads to an interesting question: what rules of conduct should you follow online?
It’s simple: the same as in real life.
For example, if you come to a party without knowing almost anyone there, most likely you will try to be polite and take part in conversations, right?
You should do the same if you are new to the online community. Take a look at the material on the forums and ask your questions. Try to be helpful and constructive in your comments and reciprocate with someone else’s help. Golden the rule of “real life can be applied online: treat people the way you would like them to treat you.
The only difference between the Internet and real life is a mixture of anonymity and transparency.
Many people use pseudonyms or chat anonymously in forums. In part, this is causing online rude behavior.
However, this anonymity also causes transparency because it allows people to openly express their feelings and talk about their experiences. This makes the Internet a great place to learn about other people and their emotions, which helps them feel better.
As an Influence Agent, You Should Also Talk Openly About Yourself: Regularly Share Personal Stories, Because It Allows People to Feel More Connected With You.
However, be careful: the Internet has a long memory, so always ask yourself if you can put up with the fact that your post will exist forever. You might think it would be fun to post your photos drunk, but do you really want your future employer to come across them years later?
Join and create online groups to increase your reach.
Can you imagine that you are alone moving a house from a place?
Of course not, because such a task is impossible for a loner. You would ask friends to help you.
You must follow the same creed in your online endeavors: engage groups of people to help you succeed.
Suppose you find a hundred people in your city who share your urge to fight poverty. Of course, all of them will be able to distribute flyers and so tell about themselves to several thousand people, but on the Internet, these hundred people can possibly get the attention of millions through social networks. The Internet allows these millions to make a small contribution, for example, by signing petitions or by donating small amounts.
The Internet allows people to be empowered because everyone can not only consume the information they want to receive, but also disseminate it. Previously, if you wanted to disseminate information, you would have to go through obstacles such as publishing houses, newspaper and radio editors, but today you can publish everything you want yourself, for example, information about the hardships of the poor.
By joining or creating groups around your area of interest, you can increase the authority you have. Moreover, you can give advice in these groups, which, thanks to the global presence of the Internet, can acquire a world-class reputation, and not just local fame.
However, it is worth remembering the following: if you want to increase your own influence by using groups for this, you will have to give something in return, on the basis of the you-me-I-you principle.
General Motors (GM) found out on their own mistakes when they tried to develop marketing by asking motorists to download videos about their new cars. They did not offer them anything in return, so the answers were mostly negative.
Having learned this lesson, GM later launched a platform for motorists, where they could talk about their favorite cars without reference to the brand. Enthusiasts appreciated this by starting to promote GM products online.
Use the Principles of Influence Agents in Real Life
In the end, one way or another, we all try to sell something, whether it’s products, ideas, or our own personality. But the sale should not be at the forefront. On the contrary, agents of influence are trying to turn the Internet face-to-face using personal and meaningful relationships with other people. The main principle of an influence agent is to be near before and after the
moment of sale, regardless of the area or context.
The Final Words
We are all trying to sell something, be it products, ideas or our own person.
To succeed, you cannot focus on selling: on the contrary, you need to build meaningful relationships and networks, making every effort to help their members.
The sale will happen along the way, while these networks will increase our credibility.
Build your online presence.
If you have not already started doing this, start working on your visibility on the Internet. Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter and so on, start a blog or your own page. Use the same name everywhere, and instead of the logo, insert the same own photo. These will be the initial steps to building your own online brand.
Check if they trust you.
To check your online reputation, search for your name and the name of your product on Google. Read what others think of you to improve what you need. If you encounter complaints, consider them, apologize to customers and try to correct the situation.
Do not focus on selling, but build relationships. The sale will happen along the way.
Why You Should Read “Trust Agents”
- To understand what successful marketing looks like in the age of the Internet.
- To expand your sphere of influence.
- To increase your authority and attract more customers
This book is available as: