If you don’t know who Julien Smith or Chris Brogan are, you’ve got to brush up on your social media, people.

Julien and Chris are two dynamic forces within the social media, find them at In Over Your Head and Chris Brogan.com), online community, and podcasting worlds who’ve carved out significant niches for themselves. So when it became known they were writing a book that grew out of their e-book Trust Economies, there was a lot of buzz online.

And then along came Trust Agents. This book, released in August, has been on the New York Times bestseller list, it’s way up in the top 3000 in Amazon sales rank — overall, it’s been a great success.

So what’s my take on their book? I have to agree with another reviewer, Christopher Penn, and say that those who need to read this book the most are much less likely to read it than are people like me.

What do I mean? I didn’t find a whole lot new in this book. I didn’t walk away from it with a million new ideas. But I don’t think I should have. I’ve been a social media geek for a few years now.

What this book excels at is laying out, in simple and plain language, the whole social media landscape, and then giving people ways in to the conversations that are happening. The person who thinks she or the company she works for should be doing more in online communications, but doesn’t really know where to begin is the perfect reader of this book.

It also provides a wealth of examples of both successful and unsuccessful social media and online initiatives, and some insight into why they worked or didn’t work.

The part of the book that will be most useful to people who are just coming in to the social media world are the “ACTION” boxes. Quick little hits of what you can do, all of which are achievable in a short time.

I can’t decide whether what I see as the book’s biggest flaw is one that rests in the book or in me. There are times where I see the language as going too far on the simple side. On occasion, the “when Chris does this, Julien does that” started to feel like an elementary school math problem. “A train leaves Winnipeg at 3:00…”

I’m an admirer of simple language. But I’m just not sure whether the writing style Brogan and Smith use in the book is one that should be emulated for adult nonfiction. On the other hand, I haven’t written a New York Times bestseller — or any books. So who am I to judge.

Overall, this book didn’t advance me a whole lot further down my path. But I think a huge population could benefit greatly from it. I hope they read it.

DISCLOSURE: I’ve hung around with Chris and Julien from time to time, and Chris was kind enough to write a blog post that made a bad experience into a good one for me. I’m not close friends with them, but I would say I know them.

The info:

  • Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
  • 261 pages, Wiley
  • ISBN: 978-0470743089

Buy it here to show me some love: Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust

Other reviews of Trust Agents:

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