Chris Brogan's keynote from Blogworld Expo


Chris Brogan delivered the closing keynote today at BlogWorld Expo. As usual it was inspiring, often unexpected and a bit profane. I'm posting my notes cleaned up a bit but more or less as I took them.


This is no rah-rah speech. This is not going to be "hooray, we're the cool kids."

First and foremost, be humble about what you know and stop this "they don't get it" crap. If they don't get it it's because we're not teaching them well enough, or because they don't need to know.

You are the preachers for this new street religion, and you can bring the message if you just stop hanging around with the same people.

You need to go back and embed with the other folks.

You need to talk about everything that you're passionate about, not social media. Please don't write a blog post about me tomorrow, write about somebody who needs the attention.

Some of you are going to die along the way. You're going to get fired because you did something wrong. And if you're not at risk, you're not trying hard enough.

What's next is about how human business works. The term "social media" never sat well with me. We need to learn how this human business is going to change how we do things. I'm sick of talking about things like what avatar to put up.

Stop creating words with "tw" in front of them. We did that a few years ago with "pod." How'd that work out?

Branding has to do with managing the end-to-end experience. Look at Disney. Be all the way 360 who you really are. If you're a bad person, get good or get offline.

Your brand is about the way you communicate, the experience you create. It's not about the tools. Do you want to know how I did what I did? I did it with love. And I do mean love. Love in business means something different than love at the house. It means really respecting your customers and showing them you care. We tell them we love them then we bombard them with stupid stuff that doesn't do them any good (bad email newsletters).

The first thing people look for is the case studies. Case studies are what happened back then. Comcastcares came about because Frank had a Twitter account and started doing something with it.

Don't be a "business card ninja," firing cards at people the moment you meet them. It's like a poke in Facebook, only less interesting. Shake someone's hand, get to know them. If you feel like you want to get to know them, then ask if they want to exchange business cards.

Think about three things:

1. Think about your own business, your own goals.

2. Think about who else this person you're meeting needs to know. That's the best thing I ever do, is be at the elbow of every deal, get people together. If you're the person who gives everybody else the work, you're set for life.

3. Don't ask 'what can I do for you.' Anticipate what you can do. Give an idea of what you're going to do next for people.

Uninstall Farmville. Stop Mafia Wars. I heard two grown adults talk about what it was going to take to get some kind of pig.

We need to drive this stuff to business. The days of kumbayah are over. Love everybody like you mean it, but the salad days are done. It's not time to be all gee whiz with each other anymore. It's time to think how this will affect our business.

Your platform is vital. The reason I got a book deal is because I have a platform: speaking gigs, a blog, a newsletter. The platform is what people are seeking. If someone says they're looking for influential bloggers, they're really looking for the numbers. They don't care if you're actually a good blogger.

You do have to do face-to-face. F2F is alive and well. Get out and meet people. Volunteer as much as you can, but watch out for overvolunteering.

Have flexibility in your schedule. Learn how to say no more.

We have so much more important work to do than convincing companies they need to be blogging. You don't have to save everybody. Do the business. Get it done.

Make it about them. Stop looking at this as a cult of me. It has to be about your customers and your audience. And turn them into a community. The difference between an audience and a community is the way you face the chairs.

The difference between an audience and a community: one will fall on its sword for you and the other will watch you fall.

Get out and start finding the people whose stories are important.

Put it out there for other people. You're all going to die wishing you'd said more about other people. Put it on paper. Help other people understand. Give it all away. We all think we have the best secrets, but we don't. Give away the good stuff.

Friendship with intent. Start seeking out really cool alliances. It's cool to start cool things, but it's really cool if you can do it with people who have the same ideas and are already doing things.

You don't need 26 kinds of conferences, you need conferences that are really well defined.

Give people the tools to start doing this on their own. Give them things like video that they can use to do things, so you can go do other things.

Social media is not a channel, but it's the most amazing set of tools in the world for channel development.

As for your community, start paying attention to how you're going to get business, and it's not always the best idea to make your community your customers. Oprah has an active community. She acts as a ferocious gatekeeper and sells access to the big companies that want to reach them.

Always look to be innovating. Always take the chips from your winnings and move them to the next table.

Make your site your storefront. Whatever you're trying to sell, be more explicit. It's amazing how many people tell me they're trying to consult and I go to their blogs and all I see is reviews of Wii games.

I write about industries that I hope to change, and then they call me. I write about what I think hotels should do, and they call me. I write about what airlines should do, and they call me.

Give stuff away. Bring wine to the picnic. If you show up in these social sites and start pitching, that won't work. But everybody likes something delicious.

Editing is good manners. Be concise. Tell good stories. We don't have time to read Moby Dick anymore. Long form articles in the New Yorker aren't getting read anymore. People want real stories. Take your ideas and make them small, compact and readable and give them "handles" so people can take them with them.

If you're not doing stuff with mobile, put that back on the list.

Build armies. You need to connect with people, equip them, embed and team up. You need to keep making the Super Friends over and over again. The snake oil salesman are here and you have to be better than them.

Flip the mindset. "How can I equip you" should be the way you write every post.

Don't be that guy. Don't be that person pushing your dumb stuff on people all the time. Just because you're so excited about your awesome startup, it's very likely that the rest of us aren't just yet.

Talk about them. It's amazing how few people write stories about other people as much as they write about themselves. It's great to talk about how your experience relates to someone else, but they want to hear things about themselves. Point out the cool people that aren't named you.

Test by doing. There's just a little too much research in what we're doing. Try stuff, and kill the stuff that doesn't work. If your blog isn't getting readers and comments, do something different.

Three things:

Build small, powerful networks. Having a lot of friends on Twitter doesn't matter; having friends you can motivate to rise to a cause when you need them to matters.

Tune your business. Make sure you have products people want.

Focus on integrated, wholistic human business. Social media is not the new PR or marketing, it's the new dial tone. It's the new nerve center of your organization. Even if your bosses don't want to get into it yet, wire it up.


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  1. Chris Brogan... on

    Thanks for keeping these notes. I sometimes don't remember how what I'm thinking comes out as in paper form. You did a great job of keeping up and capturing the flavor.
    The overall ideas need some refining to fit into easier thought clusters, but I'm happy with what you got down here. Thanks, Dave.

  2. Thanks for the excellent notes. I must admit, I was not very impressed with the new book by Chris Brogan. It did not seem to have much to it. In fact, I ended up giving up a little over half way through. Some of my colleagues have similar thoughts on it.
    However, the notes above are much better. It sounds as if his keynote was fantastic. It is very true that we need to move beyond the talk about "businesses don't get it". We need to cut businesses a break and help them, not speak negatively about them.
    I agree that we should be helping and doing something. I'm dedicated to working more on my blog and less in Twitter. Help people, don't just sit around "chatting".
    Again, thanks for the notes.
    I missed BWE this year, but made the last two years in a row. It's awesome.

  3. Awesome closing keynote. I have reasons to die-
    1. I blog about social media
    2. My blog's name start with 'tw'
    3. I ask what can i do for you?

  4. Wow -
    love the notes. I felt like I was sitting there listening to Chris talk. Very cool - going to (have been) implement a lot of these ideas.

  5. Constance Korol on

    Thank you for sharing your notes. I was unable to attend physically to the show and I missed out on Chris Brogan's speech virtually. I felt like I was there! I hope I can do the same for you in the future. Best!

  6. Nicole Williams on

    Great notes and Great information. "How can I equip you?" I love that line. It's about adding value to other people and their lives.

  7. thanks for the notes here, this was the one keynote I didn't not make, unfortunately, wish I did though, but this helps, thanks again

  8. Nice! Very inspiring.
    Seems like there was a great energy there. Thanks for transmitting some of it to those of us just getting here.
    Lots of buzzing talks on social media here in Seattle, too. Chris Brogan would be very well received I'm sure!

  9. It's always a treat to hear Chris Brogan speak and he is humble, I've meet him more than once, the thing I like about him is that he knows he's high up on the food chain. Every time I've seen him he is promoting someone else, and not himself, I've seen first hand how this help the community at large. Your notes were awesome, Thanks.

  10. Thank you so much for the notes! I was there and was so caught up by the keynote that I didn't take notes at all You are a lifesaver!
    Oh and I also got the chance to attend your panel! Fantastic!!

  11. Thank you for sharing this with us David. I have never heard of Chris Brogan but I will be keeping an eye out for him now!
    In the UK

  12. Pingback: Notes from Jeremiah Owyang’s social media for business presentation at Blogworld - Customer Analytics

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