Chris Brogan: All These Numbers Like Friends and Followers are Useless

Chris BroganFor those of you who don’t know, Chris Brogan is one of the world’s leading figures in social media. In his own words he’s ‘an eleven year veteran of using social media and both web and mobile technologies to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals.’

Chris speaks, blogs, writes articles, and makes media of all kinds at, a blog in the top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150, and in the top 100 on Technorati.

He is co-author of the New York Times bestselling book ‘Trust Agents’ , and the recently released Social Media 101.

1. At what point did you decide the career path you’ve chosen and what drew you to it?

I’ve been on this current run for a few years. I started by leaving my role as an applications engineer in a wireless company to run Jeff Pulver’s Video on the Net conference, and from there, I took on several roles, eventually leading to starting my own company.

But what I’ve done for decades is help people understand complex things in a simple way. That’s what I’ve done forever and what I do now. Essentially.

2. What excites you most about the growth of social media?

I love that we can connect with people and share along networks of value.

To me, the beauty of these tools is that they jump gates to help others. We don’t need to wait for permission.

3. Why do you think that so many businesses are fearful or are struggling to come to terms with the social media world?

I think they’re not ready to handle the two-way street. They’re uncomfortable about what to do with all this candid information, what they’ll have to tackle to stay on top of conversational marketing versus static marketing.

There’s a lot of hours involved in doing this, and people are already stretched thin.

4. You’ve written books and seen as someone many look to for guidance. What one piece of advice would you give someone entering this new (to them) social media world?

Be helpful. To me, this is what made me who I am, and it’s what makes me useful to others.

I’m helpful all the damned time.

5. How much time do you feel a company should devote towards social media (per day/week)?

It’s a great question. At a minimum, tasks in this world could be relegated to 2 hours a day.

I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s the minimum that one should be marketing one’s business in a day.

6. Why do you feel Marketing departments are slow to adopt new online techniques, particularly PR companies who seem to be slow-adopters to change?

I think marketing departments are reusing what they already know and trying to adapt it to these new channels.

That’s the same as theatrical actors when they first got into motion pictures. They were belting their lines as if they had to reach the back of the theater and not the little boom microphone. Same thing with social media.

Drop the old methods and adapt to the new. Go back to the seeds of what marketing hopes to accomplish.

7. If a colleague or friend (or client) was going to sum you up in 5 words what do you think they would say?

Not sure why he’s famous.

8. What’s your vision for marketing, on and offline for 2010 and onwards?

Location is big. Velvet rope social networks (more private niche community-minded) is big.

And also, the blend of inbound and other digital channels.

9. How should we be measuring success in this ’social’ world?

Measure it by the cash register. I think all these numbers like “friends” and “followers” are useless. Did you get more qualified leads? Did you close more sales? Did you move the needle?

Not even in the raw sales term, but also in the mindset of things like churches or organizations or whatever. Be clear about the call to action and use the tools in a conversational way, but measure by real business, not weirdo numbers

10. What’s your definition of social media?

The two way web.

11. Do you feel social media is just another bow in the armoury of ‘marketing’ just like PR, advertising etc?

No, I feel it’s a toolset.

Social media is another set of tools to help with marketing, PR and advertising, but it’s not a profession until itself.

12. Can social media work for business to business?

Absolutely. It already is.

The primary difference in B2B and B2C is the decision chain in buying. The same tools work well in impacting and affecting such decisions.

It’s just trickier to find the people to connect with (but then, that’s the fun).

Images: Chris Brogan via Flickr. Some rights reserved.