The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Twenty

Trust AgentsWe’re moving right along. It’s already day twenty of The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. Today’s giveaway is a copy of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

In Trust Agents, two social media veterans (Brogan and Smith) show you how to tap into the power of social networks to build your influence, reputation, and, of course, profits. Today’s online influencers are web natives who trade in trust, reputation, and relationships, using social media to accrue the influence that builds up or brings down businesses online.

Chris Brogan & Christina Katz at the Writer's Digest Conference 2009

Who wouldn't want to buy a book from this guy? (He's a sweetheart, seriously.)

Trust Agents shows you how to use online social tools to build networks of influence and how you can use those networks to positively impact your business.

Trust Agents:

  • Delivers actionable steps and case studies that show how social media can positively impact your business
  • Written by authors with over ten years of online media experience
  • Shows you how to build and wield influence online to benefit your brand
  • Combines high-level theory with practical step-by-step guidance

If you want your business to succeed, don’t sit on the sidelines. Instead, use the Web to build trust with your consumers using Trust Agents.

Author Bio:

Chris Brogan is a ten year veteran of using social media and both web and mobile technologies to build digitalChris Brogan relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals. Chris speaks, blogs, writes articles, and makes media of all kinds at [chrisbrogan.com], a blog in the top 10 of the Advertising Age Power150, and in the top 100 on Technorati. He is co-author of the book Trust Agents.

If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

Today’s question is…

Let’s talk about trust. Who do you trust online? How do you decide whom to trust? And what are the things that establish and build and maintain trust for you?

Give me the goods in 50-200 words, please. 🙂

Before you go! WE HAVE A CAUSE TO RAISE MONEY FOR THIS YEAR! Please read the story about the Applin family here and consider making a small contribution at some point during the giveaway. We’re aiming for $100/day collectively. Please help us help the Applin family adopt two beautiful children from Russia. 🙂

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24 Responses to “The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Twenty”


  1. 1 Meryl K Evans September 20, 2009 at 6:57 am

    We are all responsible for earning trust online. We accomplish this by creating effective bios, about pages and profiles on our sites, social network profiles and wherever else we’re present. We also earn credibility by promoting others rather than ourselves (a little bit of ourselves done right is OK). Listening to others is also critical.

  2. 2 Joyce Lansky September 20, 2009 at 7:02 am

    The main people I trust online are those who I know personally. As for strangers, I tend to trust those who have given me helpful advice or have written great books that I know and love. I don’t consciously make decisions to trust people. It’s more of a gut instinct. I do, however, tend to be a little more trusting then perhaps I should be. I’ll usually trust someone until they give me reason not to. To establish trust, one must provide helpful insights.

  3. 3 Donna September 20, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Who do you trust online? The people I trust most online are those I know personally or have learned to know because of a positive reputation that I’ve heard about from others. I’ve also begun to trust people I met through social networks, through blogs I visit, writing groups I belong to online, and people who post regularly on my own blog.

    How do you decide whom to trust? The decision to trust someone comes from observations and very often a gut feeling. From following posts on blogs and reading comments on Facebook or other social media, it becomes kind of like a “Spidey sense” that builds trust. I don’t get all tingly, but I do pick up vibes and tend to trust those who give as well as take. Users and negative people are easy to spot and avoid.

    And what are the things that establish and build and maintain trust for you? Honesty is probably most important. Other attributes that build trust: fairness, consistency, give and take, a positive attitude, being candid but not cruel, remaining engaged, being civil and courteous.

    Donna V.

  4. 4 Kim Kasch September 20, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Oh, I started blogging a little over a year ago. I thought it would go well with my writing, which I really started after my kids went off to college. My oldest told me, “Mom you need to get a life.” So . . . , I’m trying.

    I’d been a soccer and basketball coach, a room Mom, a team Mom, taken the kids to guitar, singing, and choir. My schedule had been full of lessons, practices and performances. My son knew I was going to have a huge void with them all off at school and I loved writing so, a blog was perfect.

    Now, I trust other Moms, parents and people who I “chat” with (over time) in cyberspace. The net is an EZ way to find “friends” and spend a little (or a lot) of time getting to know them.

  5. 5 lringler September 20, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Trust on-line is like a cocktail party. If someone I know and like introduces me to a friend of theirs – I trust. If someone wanders over and introduces themselves, I’m open but wary. I look for other clues and connections, I trust my gut, I share only superficially until I’m convinced there’s a reason to trust.

    On-line it’s harder to tell about someone. People can so easily misrepresent themselves and their mission. My middle school son was just telling me about kids starting facebook pages under the names of other real people, sucking everyone in, and then trashing that person. Ugh.

    Like the consumer “buyer beware” on the net it’s “connector beware.” Most people are decent and honest. But a few aren’t.

  6. 6 Maribeth September 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I will be honest and say it takes time for me to trust a relationship that I form online. I am the type of person that believes all people are good, honest and will never do anything that you wouldn’t. Because I am that way, I have to force myself to put a slight wall up. I will research the person if necessary to see what other’s opinions of them may be. I will never divulge too much personal information unless I know that they are who they say they are.
    I have been fortunate to have found great people that I have bonded with online and formed long lasting relationships with. I am a big fan of google, you can learn a lot about a person especially within this industry with that handy search site.
    I want to trust people but I think I am smart enough to know you can’t trust them all.

  7. 7 Janel September 20, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I started a blog last fall and I found that I’ve been able to meet some great people because of it (book reviewers, publicists, published authors). Right now I mainly write book reviews, but it has always been in the back of my mind that this is a great way to promote myself and my work. Plus, if I ever get a book published I have made many friends that would be willing to read, review and promote the book.

    I feel like I waste enough time just reading my blog feeds, so I still haven’t gotten into Facebook or Twitter. However, I’ve seen other bloggers talking about contacting authors through those services. They are obviously a wonderful way for authors to promote themselves.

  8. 8 Carol J. Alexander September 20, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Who do I trust online and why? I trust those individuals who have proven to me, through their writing, that they are there to help me and not just make a buck. How do I decide? Besides what they write and I read and their reputation in the community and what others say about them, the only thing that I have to go by is wisdom, intuition and discernment. Hopefully, these methods will never fail me. What builds, establishes and maintains trust for me? Life is not all about me. Nor is it all about you. If I discern that your motives are pure, and that your number one motive is not self, that is the most important aspect of trust.

  9. 9 Carrie Ure September 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    This is a very difficult question. I have a very trusting nature in general, but I am learning that others may not be as trustworthy as I give them credit for being. Online I look for quality. I use my critical and discriminative faculties to look at the product, service or idea being offered. If it rings with my high standards of integrity, honesty, genuine expertise and interest in helping others, I go forward. I tend not to trust pitches that guarantee overnight success, fame or fortune if you follow 10 easy steps. I look at a person’s track record and I put a great deal of stock in recommendations or referrals from people with whom I’ve had good personal experiences. I instinctively mistrust the hard sell, and any website that has lots of bells, whistles and “salesy” graphics. I tend to trust those whom I perceive as dedicated to their art and who have the desire to help make the world a better place. I trust humility. I am also more likely to trust a person who has written a really good book, and I’m very picky about the books I choose.

  10. 10 Ginny September 20, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Ah. Who to trust online (or should that be whom? I can never remember). I trust Christina Katz! I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, but follow them with a small dose of skepticism for a few months to see if they do anything to break my trust. I follow people based on recommendations, like on Twitter. I will even Google people, looking for complaints or warnings. Bottom line: I think it’s all a gut feeling, balanced with that healthy dose of skepticism, doing research and knowing that if someone’s advice doesn’t feel right, get a second opinion.

  11. 11 Cathy C. Hall September 20, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I’m a pretty trusting person, in general, so I tend to extend that trust to my online contacts. In a social network, like FB, most of my contacts are people I know, whether directly, or through professional organizations, or writing groups I’ve joined. And then, I have contacts through blogs I visit often. That would be folks like you 🙂 The thing is, I feel like I know these people, even though I’ve never met them.

    On the other hand, a professional network, for example, LinkedIn, is a little different. I may be approached by someone I don’t know, or have any connection to. I’ll usually accept the contact if I see that the person is in some kind of writing field. But some people, whom I have absolutely nothing in common with, just like to have these enormous contact lists- and that just gives me the “no” feeling 🙂

  12. 12 Brandy September 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Trust online is a tricky thing. Obviously, from a personal standpoint I trust those people that I actually know. I am very careful about giving out private information about myself online. Trusting businesses or professionals that I have found on the internet comes through research and the test of time. I actually purchased something from a company once that pulled a bait and switch tactic on me, so now I thoroughly check out everyone that I do business with over the internet.

  13. 13 Cat September 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Who do I trust online? This is a difficult question, one with no easy answer. I’m not a blogger, and have come to trust those whose blogs I have followed over a long period of time. I also choose to trust people who are recommended to me by people I already trust. Here I’m thinking not just about blogs and websites but also social networking sites like Facebook and business networking sites like LinkedIn. I’ll connect to someone who is connected to someone I know. I think if I were a blogger there would be a lot more variables for me to consider–more contact with people I’m not connected to already–which is the point, right, to reach new people?

  14. 14 Brianne A September 20, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I tend to take a while to build trust in someone, especially online. Some of it is based on my gut feeling, but I also look at the person’s reputation. I take my time because there are so many scams out there, and many of them are creatively disguised.

    I did, however, meet my husband online back in the mid-nineties, before it was a normal thing to do. We met through a band’s fan mailing list, and we had an instant connection. I trusted him pretty quickly because we chatted so often and my gut instincts were that he was being honest.

    I was sixteen at the time, and luckily, he turned out to be who he said he was. Now that I’m a parent, I am much more cautious about who I trust and what information I put out there.

  15. 15 Laura September 20, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Who do I trust online? I find it easiest to trust those who I know from offline life. Next I trust those who someone else has introduced me to.

    If I’ve never met a person, and no one else vouched for them, then it takes time to build trust. I’m very much a words person, so after a while of reading their emails, blogs or writings, I feel like I get to know the person. Trust follows.

    I have to admit that I trust quicker if there’s a mutual interest, like writing here. I also admit to a bit of wariness when talking with those I only know online, but I have learned to trust that ‘gut’ feeling.

  16. 16 Renee Roberson September 20, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Call me pretentious, but professionally, I tend to trust well-established authors who treat aspiring writers and students fair and courteously on social networking Web sites and blogs. If I know a writer has a good following on her blog, loyal readers and sage advice presented cleanly and professionally on her Web site, I put my trust in you whole-heartedly.
    Building a relationship with writers in a way that is at least 50/50 on the give and take scale helps me determine who to trust online. As some posters have already mentioned, I definitely follow my gut, and it’s helped me so far!

  17. 17 Fawn September 20, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    I think that it is a lot easier to trust people online than it was 10 years ago. I stick to the mainstream, and am generally willing to trust anyone who seems to be genuine in their efforts to provide good resources, services, or camaraderie without profit-making as their primary purpose. (It is my plan to someday spend an entire afternoon clicking through all those links over there on the right hand column, because if Christina is endorsing it, I trust it!)

    As a writer, I think that people who I meet online are often the best prepared to give me valuable feedback as an unbiased party. They are a “beta” general audience in ways that my family and friends can not be. So, in essence, I have to trust “strangers” online in an effort to improve my craft.

  18. 18 Mar Junge September 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    I work online with scores of editors and business associates I’ve never met in person. “Nice to meet you, virtually” is how I start many a conversation. Trust is not an issue because almost everything we do online is by referral. We are referred to prospects by someone we know. Vendors or suppliers or other professionals are referred to us by someone we already trust. Of course there are degrees of trust. Utilizing social media requires that you interact with people you don’t know and can’t check out. So it’s wise to be cautious with personal or financial information.

  19. 19 Judy September 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I trust those that I have established solid networking relationships or friendships with. As far as who I trust, I go with my gut. Always have. Trust takes a long time for me. I need to believe in the person. Like respect, trust is earned.

  20. 20 Beth Cato September 20, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I have many friends online, but I limit access for many of them. I’ve been on LiveJournal since 2001 on my main account. Almost all of my posts are friends-locked (those being people I have approved to see my journal) and I have additional filters on top of that for very personal things.

    My writing journal, on the other hand, is not locked because I want to encourage people to add me and join me for the wild ride; I also don’t talk about personal things like on my other LJ. I stay on topic with writing or distractions like my son. I want it to be “me” but somewhat professional. Same with my Facebook.

  21. 21 Cara Holman September 20, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    With all the computer viruses and spambots going around, it takes a certain level of trust to access the internet at all. Then to get past that and decide which calls for submissions are on the level, which editors to trust and which publications are legit just adds another whole level of complexity to the submission process. Where to start?

    I start by asking real people that I know for personal recommendations, and then branch out from there. I look for friends of trusted friends, and personal referrals, much as I do in real life. My general rule of thumb is if at least two people or writer’s organizations that I have already checked out recommend something, then I am more likely to be willing to take a chance on it. Still, when all is said and done, the responsibility for vetting sources lies with me.

  22. 22 writethejourney September 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Online, I trust the women in my writing group, other students in online classes, and (usually!) “friends” on Facebook. I also trust bloggers I follow, even if they don’t fall into one of the categories above.

    But trust doesn’t mean stupidity. It doesn’t mean I trust my readers with secrets that would be better kept to myself. I can see how it would be easy to over-share or forget that when posting, the whole world can see what I’ve written. The Web is, after all, a workplace that is subject to the same boundaries we would put in place if we worked in an office.

  23. 23 Sarah Lindsey September 20, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I think that time has a lot to do with trusting people online. For instance, someone who has, over time, established a reputation for themselves (as a mentor, expert, or great instructor) is someone that I will look to for writing advice. My biggest source of online friends has been the WM Riffs. I picked up a copy of Writer Mama in July 2008, and immediately checked out Christina’s website. I suppose I went with my gut on this one because I trusted her immediately…and I figured that anyone she recommended or appeared to find trustworthy probably was exactly that. So I started blogging and meeting more people…and have been slowly but surely building relationships (including some great friendships) with other writers.


  1. 1 The 2009 Giveaway List: The Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway Starts Tuesday, September 1st! « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on October 2, 2009 at 3:31 pm
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