social networking

Trust Agents 7a: Building an Army

In addition to joining a group, creating one (and filling it with the smartest people you know) is the true path to influence online.

In chapter 7 of Trust Agents, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith talk about the power of creating groups and leading them to accomplish big things.

The web makes it possible for people with a common interest to join together in groups (or Tribes as Seth Godin calls them).  We’re no longer limited by geography, time, or logistics.  Like-minded people anywhere in the world can come together around a blog, a forum, a Facebook page or any number of other social networking tools.

The power of groups is immense…

The power of groups comes from what Brogan and Smith refer to as “asynchronous aggregation.”  “Instead of asking one person to make all the effort, we can ask 100 people for a fraction and get even greater results.”  A great example of this is Wikipedia, which was developed and is maintained by a huge volunteer army and has totally blown away expensive, old-school print encyclopedias.

Another great example of power of groups happened just this week at the Stuff Christians Like blog.  On Monday Jon Acuff kicked off an effort to build a kindergarten in Vietnam by asking his readers, which number in the thousands, to donate to the cause.  Within 18 hours, the entire $30,000 goal had been reached.

How was this possible?

Well first, let’s not discount God’s hand in this.  But just looking at the human factors, this was possible because of several important things Jon did.

  1. He built up a lot of trust among his readers by being honest and transparent in his writing.
  2. He built up a large number of readers by writing consistently and doing it well.
  3. He asked people to do something he knew would resonate with his readers, something he knew they would want to do.
  4. He took a big risk – he asked.  Despite all the other stuff, this could have totally bombed.  If a month later he had only raised $500 towards the $30,000 goal it would have been somewhat embarrassing.  But Jon took a chance and used his influence to do something really, really good.

I’ll leave you with thes question.

What is God calling you to do that you can’t do alone?  Is it time to take the trust and influence you’ve built with people, form a group, and lead the group to accomplish something bigger than yourself?

[image by toucanradio]

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.


  • Great post, Paul. You're right, the SCL thing was amazing. Thank you for being part of it.

    I think what is the foundation of both what Trust Agents is describing and the success of the Stuff Christians Like community building a school in Vietnam is actually our call by Christ to be a community of believers that loves one another.

    Jon Acuff strives to humbly and respectfully love others and his readers (which isn't always easy especially in the context of a satire blog). The reward of this investment in love is a committed community and the right to ask for their help. The result of which is that enough money was raised to build a kindergarten in 18 hours. Amazing.

    The reason I'm making a point of emphasizing that love is a precondition is that a lot of blogs (even "Christian" blogs) have built up a following but haven't made love primary. And I doubt that those communities could channel the same enthusiasm, commitment, and power to do what Jon and the SCL community did.

  • Kevin, I so agree with your about even Christian blogs and personalities have built followings but have made love (putting the other person first) primary.

    I'm working on my Tribe of Christian whose families are dealing and suffering with mental illness. This is a tough Tribe to gather together because of stigma in the general community, and particularly in the Christian community (that bug-a-boo of love again).

    If there's one thing I've learned, not just from this book, but from being there is the other person matters more than me. Yes, I'd like a larger Tribe. But if my Tribe remains at ten or twelve and we all help each other, that's fine too.

  • Everett, glad to hear you've got a project in the works. Look forward to hearing more about it.

    Kevin, that's a good point about love. Brogan and Chris don't talk much about love in Trust Agents, but just about everything I've read so far looks an awful lot like love. Treating people like people instead of numbers, putting the interests of your tribe/followers ahead of your own interests, doing good things for others without the expectation that they're do anything in return, helping those with less influence.

    Susan, I agree that it's too easy to get hung up on numbers. IMO, it's better to have a small tribe that's totally passionate for the vision of the group than a big tribe of luke-warm associates. It's the zealots that will stick with you and do whatever it takes.

  • Great post whoever wrote it.

    I am still building an online tribe, but this chapter (as well as Seth Godin’s book that you mentioned) are extremely inspiring to me. Another blogging buddy (, myself and a mutual friend are going to do a project this summer that we hope will raise awareness for some people who need it, and we are hoping that our online army can help out.

    BTW, the Stuff Christians Like thing was amazing.

  • […] Bloggen Ourchurch skriver intressant om detta. Titta in där. En annan som skrivit mycket om saken och som är något av en internetguru är Clay Shirky. Hans bok Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations handlar precis om detta fenomen. Hur kan världens häftigaste uppslagsverk bara uppstå, helt utan hierarkier och inhyrda experter? T ex. […]

Leave a Comment

What is 5 + 13 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)