Chris Brogan Takes the Mask Off Social Media

If anyone knows how their way around social media, surely it’s a guy with 200,000 plus Twitter followers, at least if that guy is social media’s favourite go-to guy Chris Brogan.

But Brogan’s big message at Social Media Camp in Victoria on June 8 wasn’t all about technology or about pushing ego-driven messages out to ‘gadzillions’ of followers. Instead, the New York Times bestselling author and president and CEO of Human Business Works focused on not letting technology pull the plug on the power of human communication.

With his trademark irreverent humour and straight talk, Brogan shared with Douglas his top five tips for using social media:

  • Be brief. (“Articulate! Use brevity, small words, and simple, pure language.”)
  • Listen twice as much as you speak. (“If you are investing in speaking technology but not listening technology, there’s a problem.”)
  • Make your buyer the hero. (“I think the more we do that — that’s the golden win.”)
  • We’re all in the media business.
  • Always make it about them. (“Nobody wants to read your incredible press release about your incredible product. They want something that’s going to serve them and make a new business thing happen.”)


A crowd of several hundred turned out last week to hear Brogan, adviser to Fortune 500 companies and author of Trust Agents and Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything.

“…when I wrote [Google+ for Business] I had no idea that the entire collective universe was going to be like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want to get on another social network.’”

Be that as it may, the importance of a social network created by the world’s number one search engine (Google) and number two search engine (YouTube) should not be overlooked, he said. And the fact that Google is integrating Google+ with its search algorithm makes it particularly important for businesses who want to be found.

“Two-thirds plus of people looking for your site start on Google. Why wouldn’t you at least put a little account up on Google+ and point people back to your main website?”

But Brogan refuses to get hung up on which social media tool is the one. It’s not a Google versus Facebook thing. “Have all the social networks you want. Put them like loyalty cards on your key ring. It’s cool. Just be where you want to be.”

In fact, one of the best social networks businesses have is their email inboxes, he advised — and the same rules apply to email marketing as they do to any form of social media: brevity, clarity, not spamming, and making the customer the hero.


Brogan emphasized the power of contrast in social media (“If you want to be heard and seen out there, your idea has to have some level of contrast to all the other ideas around). You also need to create an echo (“Your idea has to stand out from other people’s ideas, but it has to be an idea people feel like they can understand and make their own. This is a challenge; get a flag not a bumper sticker because a flag rallies people around it …”).

Asked to look into his crystal ball, Brogan sees the need to map out an increasingly crowded terrain. “I’m devoting my time to helping big organizations figure that out. We’ve sold a slew of things and we don’t know how to make them all work the way we need them to work, and then we feel like idiots because we just bought a bunch of things. So I’m making that map for them.”

Perhaps the most important message to take away from Brogan is: Be real. Forget the mask. Tell the truth and listen well. Your customers and followers will thank you for it.