Are you wondering how to best build a platform with social media?

Do you want to learn how to build trusted relationships online?

To explore how to establish trust with social media, I interview Chris Brogan for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Chris Brogan, CEO of Human Business Works and author of several books including The Impact Equation.

Chris shares his experiences in building trust online, and the importance of having a blog if you want to grow the reach and exposure of your business.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSSStitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Building Trust, Online

How social media has changed

Chris talks about his views on how social media has changed over the last 3 years. He shares that when he co-founded an event called Podcamp in 2006, he believed podcasting and video blogging were going to change the world.

You’ll hear Chris share what matters today in social media and how he feels podcasting has recently made a comeback. He explains that email marketing isn’t dead—it’s bad email marketing that’s dead. Instead we need to be more personable and relationship-minded. Chris describes how platforms have come and gone and why it’s community that really matters.

Listen to the show to find out why community has stayed the same since Chris started.

How to make your social media audiences count

Chris talks about why only having a Twitter feed is like living in a hotel room and thinking you’ve made it. He shares the reasons why we need a place to call our own.

Chris explains the importance of having a blog or a website. You need to have a “primary home base,” as it’s the ultimate centerpiece that you need to use any social platforms. If you don’t have one, you’re throwing away your opportunity for business and influence.

Listen to the show to find out how Chris’s blog has attracted business opportunities.

How to obtain “reach”

Chris shares how the larger structure of The Impact Equation is the idea that if you have really good goals, they will drive unique ideas. Next, you need a platform where people can see those ideas. You need a human element or a network of values. You need people who care about the information you share online. These are the components of social media success.

Chris explains his definitions of reach and exposure. He describes ways of achieving audience capture. When you have a basic website but don’t have an email newsletter, you have a passive connection to your audience. When you only have a Twitter account, you have a very passive connection with your audience. This is because people don’t know how to get back to the “meat” of what you’re saying.

chris brogan on platform

Chris shares how to grow your platform.

Listen to the show to find out great ways to increase your reach.

How to gain trust online

Chris shares the common problems people face when it comes to being human across the web. We are born looking for faces and need to see people on the other side of our communication. You’ll hear why your “About” page is relevant and it’s not just about logos.

Chris explains how historically business was based on face-to-face networking and the difference now that things are moving online.

Chris talks about the “comma problem” and how marketers can improve their email pitches. Learn why it’s not simply about pressing the +1 on complete strangers. As Guy Kawasaki said, “Nobody is from nowhere.” If somebody is of value to you, you find ways to express that and it’ll go a lot further than hitting the +1 button.

You’ll hear how Chris likes to highlight the good work of other people and consequently they get increased visibility, which is more powerful than a +1.

The formula for gaining trust is:

  • Be helpful
  • Do something for the other person
  • Ask for nothing in return

Listen to the show to hear why gaining trust requires work.

Why intimacy counts

Chris explains that intimacy is about how to pay attention to somebody and give them some level of who you are. He says vulnerability is tied very closely to intimacy.

As business professionals, we are taught to hide our vulnerability. But the more we expose our vulnerability and show something that is not normally considered to be a strong business persona, the more people in the online world will know we care.

the trust equation

The Trust Equation by David Maister and Charles Green.

Listen to the show to find out the techniques for creating an intimate online voice.

Chris’s Tip

Chris recently adopted a radically different design for his website.

He explains why his aim is to make his website an educational experience so when you show up for the first time on his site, you’ll have a sense of direction. He explains how veterans know how to get what they need, but new visitors need to feel served and loved when they show up to your site.

Discover why he turned his site into “Every day is somebody’s first day.”

chris brogan com

Chris Brogan's website showing its new look.

Listen to the show to hear the reasons behind Chris’s new look for his website.

Other Show Mentions

Social Media Marketing World is Social Media Examiner’s latest mega-conference—taking place at the waterfront San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego, California on April 7-9, 2013.

As you’d expect, Social Media Examiner recruited the biggest and best names in the world of social media marketing for this conference. Only the best for you! Be sure to check it out.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your experiences with building trust online? Please leave your comments below.

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  • This is a great topic. This morning I listened to an older SME podcast with Brian Solis and this new one is now planned for my walk to work! I am slowly catching up on all the great podcasts that you have accumulated it. Stay tuned for my comment on this podcast 🙂 

  • dumaspcf

    Thanks for the tips, Mike and Chris. 

    Establishing trust is a long term process which I think every entrepreneur should work on and it definitely helps to hear those tips from social media experts.

    Keep on rockin! Have a great weekend everyone! 

  • Trust is a word that will never get overrated. It is already very difficult to establish a good working relationship face-to-face with people, even more so in the cyberworld, so it is really necessary to build and maintain trust online.
    Thanks for those awesome tips, Mike and Chris!

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  • Richard Rashty

    Building trust can be a difficult accomplishment, but from my experience trust can begin to form when people have tacit proof that their opinions, thoughts, and POV can be expressed without retaliation from peers or management.  Along with the 3 points regarding the establishment of Trust mentioned above,  I would add the following traits which are absolutely necessary to create a dimension of trust:  “Humility, Empathy, and Respectfulness.  

    IMO, it is impossible to “lead” without first knowing how to “follow”, and likewise, one cannot “establish trust with others” without first “giving trust to others”.

    Good Post !!

  • Thanks for your feedback on the podcasts 🙂

  • Appreciate it!  Trust is really key, I agree 

  • Thanks John

  • I like your point about being a follower Richard.  If you don’t pay attention to the needs of others how can you be expected to lead them

  • The part about the ‘hard work’ can not be over emphasized. Too many people believe that social media makes it easy to broadcast and advertise. However, social media merely enables the process of building relationships but that does not mean it is easier. It still requires honest and sincere engagement and which usually requires more than a few retweets or Likes. Also, the example you gave about Markus’s attempt to respond to every commenter is very similar to Fred Wilson’s style of running his AVC blog which makes his blog one of the best commented examples on the web.

  • DebtCoachCanada

    Being a financial coach really the trust factor is a must.  This is a great post and podcast that I will be sharing with others for sure. I love following the SME posts and implementing your trainings.. Cheers, Eric

  • Thanks so much Eric 🙂

  • Trust is key. Without it, there’s not even a chance for building a lasting relationship. This is why sincerity wins (almost) every time, and why social media is inherently good (IMHO).  I especially like “Be helpful. Do something for the other person. Ask for nothing in return.” 
    The other side of the coin is that some industries inherently mistrust social media. Banking (for security reasons) and Healthcare (for patient confidentiality reasons) seem especially slow to adopt social media. The best antidote for this fear includes (1) developing a strategic plan, 2) adopting SM policies/procedures, and (3) thinking through ahead of time what to do during a time of crisis. Banks/Hospitals, etc., can start slowly with confidence building measures, but to do nothing now will only cede online territory to the early adopters plus they risk jumping into the game as rank amateurs when they finally do decide to join in on the conversation.

    I also agree that publishing a blog is paramount. Blogs let you take ownership of your expertise and serve as a perfect complement to a static website. Twitter/Facebook/G+ make more sense when you publish a continuous flow of free, helpful and value added information.

    But it all starts and finishes with trust. Without trust, you got nothin’ .

    — Scott Scowcroft
    Social Media for Healthcare

  • Gary Vee has  is the poster child for building relationships through social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc) and his books.

  • thanks! I will check him out (the name is very familiar!)

  • To fully appreciate Gary Vee you have see him speak. Here he is at Big Omaha in 2011.

  • wow. im so glad i came across this site! i look forward to your insight!!

  • Great Topic, featured guest and as always fabulous content.  You do such a great job with dissecting the information in “key takeaways” and points that helps your listeners.  It was great hearing you both and always appreciate the intelligible and practical content.

    Thanks again Michael and keep up the great work!

  • Scott – Thanks for sharing your thoughts here 🙂

  • Thanks Megan 🙂

  • Really appreciate that Howard 🙂

  • Martin Studer

    very well done, and very well delivered.

  • Thanks Martin

  • As a novelist, building trust within my SM community is slightly different than if I were providing a financial/business service, etc. I have both readers and other authors to consider in the equation, as both can be powerful factors in my success or failure, and both need different things from me. Readers have to know they can depend on me for a well-written, entertaining book every time, and other authors have to know they can depend on me to help them promote their work, brainstorm ideas confidentially, and for help in various other aspects of the business.

    I appreciate your breaking gaining trust down into segments I can adapt and apply. Thanks for making me think about how I can build genuine relationships with SM. I’m going to take this info, as well as other things I’ve read here, and develop an SM plan with solid goals and actions. I truly believe implementing various aspects of your advice will help me succeed and achieve my goals as an author.


  • Great stuff, Michael and Chris!

    Trust Agents was and is a great book. I’m halfway through The Impact Equation, and it rocks, too!

    And, thanks for the mention. I feel honored to be included here with my friend, Gini Dietrich, and someone who I’ve met but want to get to know better, Mr. Sheridan.

    The Franchise King®

  • Thanks for stopping by Joel 🙂

  • You’re welcome, Michael.

    It was great to meet you at dinner when you came to Cleveland…


  • Hi Kendra,

    Glad to hear you found value.  I think artists have a unique relationships with community and it’s an interesting concept.  You have a real opportunity to grow a super huge and active base.

  • These are all great tips. You always have to establish trust with your customers and social media can serve that purpose very well. You can really build relationships with your customers using social media, which can help your credibility. Thanks for writing about it (and posting the podcast).

  • Ah man! I wish I were going to be able to make your conference. Sounds like it’s going to be REALLY good! And thank you for the nice mention. 

  • Hey Gini – Thanks, it will be a blast and we’ll miss you

  • Thanks Michael

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  • We need more of this in the social world. Building relationship with social media would really be useful whether it be for business or just for sharing information. 

  • This post is worth to read..

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  • Kay

    Building a relationship is not easy, especially if you try to build it without talking t, or physically looking at a person.  Establishing rapport with people, and letting them know that you care is a must. This can be difficult to do with social media, so having a “home” such as a website, as mentioned above is truly important. Also, don’t under estimate the power f sharing & caring. Sharing your life with your readers/followers, and caring enough about them to write what they want t read about. I love this site! I always find myself thinking when I am here, and I love that:).

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  • Great topic! In the end of the podcast you mentioned that we should go to presentations, meet and know people. I am located in Australia and start-ups are not as common, especially in Canberra. What would you suggest I do for building community and networking? Thanks 🙂

  • If you can’t go to live events, participate in LinkedIn groups online or other communities.

  • A very useful post. I especially like the equation part – it is very important to show that were human. Even online…