Ruud Questions: Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan appeared, like a lot of other folks did, on my radar somewhere in 2007 via Twitter. He stayed on my radar because he publishes genuine blog posts that seem to come from the heart. Much of the mid-2007 posts (I lost track later on) were thoughtful; he was asking himself, and us, a lot of good questions.

I find him one of the genuine people on Twitter.

For a while a filed him in my Thinkers folder in Google Reader; he's still a Thinker but has made social media and social media marketing his "thing".

I asked him for a guest post here and got one of the best phrased brush offs ever; friendly, social, very polite -- and very clear. Fortunately he didn't mind being the first main target of the Q&A's 🙂

Unless otherwise noted, the highlighting and the links in the answers are mine.

The byline of your blog is "community and social media" and the title of the page is "social media business strategy and more". Do these two, the social media community and social media business strategies, overlap, co-exist or do they by and large have conflicting interests?

Ah, so now you know my secret.

I feel this: communication is communication.

I can convince my wife that I need a new laptop bag that's very different than the last four laptop bags I've bought, or I can tell you about my upcoming conference and explain why you have to be there. They both are an abstraction of words and meaning. So, I use both taglines because I have both audiences, because ultimately, I'm teaching the same thing: how the web humanizes communications again.

High level, what would you say entails a general social media business strategy?

Listening, collaboration, custom engagement, and a more tailored alignment to standard business goals.

Where most folks go astray is they mistake business strategies and social media strategies as being far afield. In my perspective, the social media part is a set of tools with a certain application that align with business strategy in general. Alan Scott, CMO of the Dow Jones companies agrees, and told me as much on stage at New Marketing Summit this past October.

Is there such a thing as social media marketing or is it more a case of trying to build goodwill and hoping something will come of it?

I think there's a set of marketing practices that lend themselves to the social media toolset.

Content marketing like blogging is successful for Dell in their Conversational/community marketing is working great for people like Home Depot and Tyson Foods and others on Twitter. There are all kinds of people trying new swings at marketing.

Those who are building business are those who are using the human aspects of the medium to reach people in a more authentic way, but with a business-minded result.

We recently did a series of posts on using social media to identify and answer needs. Can using social media in this way be overkill for some companies? I.e., too many representatives online and thus being views as "too pushy".

I think there's a risk of companies coming off as "big brother" creepy at first, but I think that people are actually seeking this kind of online connectivity.

Frank Eliason from Comcast showed us that. He started answering people's complaints about Comcast customer service on Twitter, and from there, people really took notice.
Frank showed us that people are ready to be answered wherever they are, instead of just on the phone. We're using a 100 year old technology as our primary source of business interaction. Think we can mix it up a bit?

I'm Jane & John Doe. I think the company where I work could really benefit from social media; that it would help the business grow. Am I right -- and if so, what do I tell my manager now?

Not every company needs social media. Companies who do better with broadcasting don't need social media. Companies who feel they're still getting great returns on their existing marketing methods probably don't need the tools.

For companies who believe their customers have individual tastes, this is the right way to go. For companies who like to deliver quality and value in their conversational methods, social media is the evolution of media. It's all tomorrow's radios, as Julien Smith and I will write about in our book, Trust Agents [Ruud: they already did the free Trust Economies]. By that, we mean that the people who jumped from print marketing to radio marketing owned the game.
We feel social media is a gatejumping technology, and that the people who master it will win.

These are difficult economic times: should I start "something" on the web and try to make my money there? Why yes/no?


The web is the world's best salesman, marketer, and shopfront. It's inexpensive, easy to find, and gives you a quick start towards trying to deliver new streams of income.

There's plenty of money on the web. Affiliate marketing alone is going to be a 13 BILLION dollar business in 2009. [Ruud: with projected affiliate fees of 3.3 BILLION in 2012] That's plenty of loot.

I started my own site. I've next to nothing to invest into promotion. What do you suggest I do?

Depending on the site, find the people who'd care and strike up conversations. Not promotions, conversations. Get to know them. Once they have a better sense of you, they want to participate. They'll promote you.

Building relationships with people who want to promote you is endlessly better than trying to shove your stuff onto other folks.

About the Author: Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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