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Is Chris Brogan a Google+ Expert or Just Stealing Your Money?

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Earlier this week, Chris Brogan announced that he’d be offering a 2-hour webinar for $47. The topic of choice? Google+. Now, it’s inarguable that Chris has been spending a ton of time on Google+, but some are calling foul, given that the platform is so new.

So the question I hope to answer today is this: Is Chris Brogan a Google+ expert or is he just stealing your money?


Before I start, I’d like to note that since this is such a strong opinion piece, my opinions might not be the opinions of everyone at BlogWorld. Furthermore, if you wrote about this debate on your own blog, just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I think you’re stupid or that your opinion is invalid. It’s a little sad to me that I have to even type this paragraph, but there’s some venom in the blogging community about this topic. Also, I’m not trying to “call anyone out” here – I just don’t like when bloggers are obviously writing about someone but refuse to link to them or use their name. It feels a little like talking about someone behind their back.

First, to catch you up to speed, I want to invite you to check out the landing page for Chris’ webinar. In case he takes it down after the webinar happens, the video he posted is on YouTube here. Are we all caught up now? Good. There are two things in particular that I want to talk about now: being an expert and knowing your audience.

Is Chris A Google+ Expert? Is Anyone?

Back in January, I wrote a post about how you shouldn’t call yourself a social media expert, especially if your claims are unfounded. My argument is that although you might have a lot to teach about social media, this is an industry that is so new and changing so quickly that no one person can truly be an expert yet.

Do I think this argument applies to the situation? Yes and no. I wholeheartedly agree with bloggers who claim that Chris is not a Google+ expert because, frankly, I don’t think that anyone can claim to be a Google+ expert. Over on Spin Sucks, Gini Dietrich actually wrote a post called “Beware the Google+ Experts” about the situation, which I was excited to read because the title aligns with my feelings perfectly. Google+ is way too new for “experts.”

Only…well…Chris isn’t actually calling himself an expert. That’s where I think the whole “Chris Brogan isn’t an expert so you shouldn’t pay him” argument falls a little flat (and to be clear, Gini isn’t by far the only one making this argument).

In my opinion, there’s a difference between being an expert and charging someone money for something. For example, in my work as a writer, if a client wants me to write articles that use keywords, I charge extra. I’m not an SEO expert at all – I just know how to insert keywords into an article. I don’t bill myself as an expert and neither does Chris. In fact, in one of his blog posts about this debate, he writes,

I’ve seen dozens of comments and posts and blogs saying “How someone can claim to be an expert after 250 hours is laughable.” What’s laughable is that I’m not saying I’m an expert. I’m saying that I’ve used the service a lot and I’ve got some ideas that I think are worth your time and some money.

So, no…I don’t think Chris Brogan is an expert. I think he’s a guy who has had some success on Google+ and is offering to teach you what he’s learned so far – and that’s all he’s claiming to be. He’s being very transparent about his relationship with Google+ so potential buyers can make up their own minds about signing up (or not). You don’t have to buy things only from experts.

The Blogging Bubble: Know Thy Audience

Chris’ webinar is being offered through Human Business Works, which he writes is “an online education and community company for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs.” As a blogger or social media professional, you are definitely a solo entrepreneur (if you want to be, at least)…but so is my dad, who runs a part-time business as a metal fabricator or my aunt, who has her own beauty salon. Sometimes, we’re caught in this blogging bubble where we forget that there are people out there who barely know what social media is, let alone how to use it. They’re part of Chris’ audience, just like you and me.

Let’s face it – most of us here, the BlogWorld audience, has been exploring Google+ because we’re interested in that kind of thing. This is our industry. It’s what we do. But Google+ is for everyone, and not all of my friends fall into my blogging/social media circle. If I invite my dad to join, he would have no idea what is going on and although he is a smart man, he’s just not interested enough to take the time to learn. Chris’ seminar would make perfect sense for him.

In other words, you are probably not Chris’ target market for this product. Allen Stern recently wrote a post where he voices his opinion that Chris is taking advantage of his fan base – but I think maybe he misses the fact that Chris’ fanbase isn’t just made up of bloggers.

It’s kind of like the Dummies books. Let’s say I decide to pick up the one about blogging. It would be a total waste of money…for me. I’ve spent 5+ years learning that stuff myself. But let’s say my dad decides to pick it up because he wants to start a blog. It would be perfect for him, saving him lots of time. Yes, he could learn everything covered in that book for free, but it would take him a long time. Someone buying a Dummies book isn’t paying for information that can’t be found anywhere else. They’re paying for convenience, because it is a shortcut to learning something specific. Chris’ webinar is for people who don’t want to spend 250 hours figuring out Google+ for themselves because, unlike those of us interested in social media, it’s not their primary area of focus.

Basically, you’re only taking advantage of people if you’re not delivering on your promises. And I obviously haven’t been to Chris’ webinar since it hasn’t happened yet (and I probably won’t go because I’m not the target market), but I’ve followed him for years and got the chance to meet him in New York through my work with BlogWorld. My professional opinion of him is that he’s a trustworthy guy. I don’t think he’s going to bait-and-switch ya with this webinar.

That’s not to say that you should be out there recommending this webinar to your readers. Who is your audience? For example, Kirsten Wright wrote a post called “Why You Shouldn’t be Paying to Learn How to Use Google+…Yet,” and for her audience (which I suspect is similar to the readers here at BlogWorld) I think it’s good advice. But again, her audience isn’t necessarily Chris’ audience – at least, not his whole audience. I don’t agree with the idea that he’s wrong to offer this webinar.

So, no…I don’t think Chris Brogan is stealing your money. I think he has a product for sale and you can choose whether or not that product is right for you. As Chris Pirillo puts it,

I’m largely in the camp of “Let Chris Do What Chris Wants to Do” – which intersects with the “Do What You Want to Do but Don’t Piss in Someone’s Cheerios” camp. I’m not here to claim that what Chris has to share is anything more than Chris’s insights on Google’s new social network, but… hey, how much is two hours of your time worth?

For someone who is interested in learning Chris’ opinions on how to best use Google+, two hours might be worth $47 to you. If it’s not, that’s okay, but it doesn’t mean that Chris is wrong for offering it. After all, we’re all adults here. I have a problem with “experts” presenting products that make outlandish promises to feed on people’s fears, but when the scope of a product is made clear, as I feel is the case with this webinar, I don’t have a problem with someone selling it…and I don’t understand why anyone would. After all, people pay for a lot of weird things. Haven’t you ever purchased anything that others think is worthless but that was important to you?

The bottom line is that the title of this post is a little misleading because I don’t think either option applies to Chris. He’s not a Google+ expert and he’s also not stealing your money. He’s offering a webinar, and you have the option to buy or walk away. You also have the option to promote it or to tell your readers that you think it’s a bad idea – but in both cases, try to understand the product before posting what amounts to a review of someone’s idea. Just like it’s unfair to your readers to promote something that is low-quality or not right for your audience, I feel like it is also unfair to your readers to recommend against something that could be helpful for some people.

I hope you’ll leave a comment, whether or not you agree with me. All comments are welcome as long as they’re respectful! Also, when I mentioned this post on Twitter a lot of people showed interest in reading something where I disagreed with the mainstream opinion out there. If you enjoy that kind of thing, this is my shameless plug for Blog Zombies, a project I’ve been working on for over a year now that’s being released this fall, where I’m going to be voicing opinions that heavily go against the status quo. I hope you’ll check it out if you think you might be interested.

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.


Feedback

65
  • Tim Brownson

    My first reaction on seeing Chris’s tweet and then landing page was how the hell has he racked up 250 hours in such a short amount of time. He must have been doing almost nothing else for the last couple of weeks!

    Other than that though it really is about the ROI. You can look at the price and think “Wow, he stands to make $47k if he fills it” and allow the green-eyed monster to take over. Or you can decide whether you will get $47 worth of value.

    Quite honestly, if it saves me an hours time, then that’s worth $47 for me, although having said all that I haven’t signed up because I have other commitments.

    • Allison Boyer

      That’s a good point, Tim – it can be hard to think of it in terms of “is this a fair price for my time” versus “does the person deserve to make the money he’s going to make by selling his product”. The phrase “cutting off the nose to spite the face” comes to mind.

      • Tim Brownson

        Exactly. What Chris makes or doesn’t make shouldn’t even enter the equation for anybody deciding whether to sign up or not. But alas Human Beings are weird and we don’t always make sensible choices 😉

  • Thomas Duff

    Nicely written, Allison… Just because something doesn’t work *for you* doesn’t mean it doesn’t work *at all*.  Parallels some of the points in a blog post titled Be Deliberate that I commented on today: http://www.duffbert.com/duffbert/blog.nsf/d6plinks/TADF-8JWGKF

    Thanks for sharing…

    • Allison Boyer

      Thanks, Duff! I think people are just blanketing things too much, deciding that it is 100% wrong. Different things work for different people, but so many people are making Chris sound like a scam, which I think is unfair. (I’m not sure if blanketing is a term, but you know what I mean :-p)

      And thanks for sharing your link!

  • BlogWorld Expo

    I have known Chris for several years now. We met at Gnomedex  before he was “The Chris Brogan”. He is very much the same guy today as he was then.

    Trust me Chris knows more about Google + and how it works today than just about anyone in the world. And yes I would bet other than taking care of his family it is all he has been doing since the day he got in beta.

    As someone who took a year to figure out Twitter, as someone who has the luxury of talking about, writing about, and thinking about social media all day every day, I  have signed up for Chris’ webinar tomorrow.

    I  am 100% certain I will learn things I had not even dreamed of about Google +. So I am going to have to disagree with Alli a bit here on this one. Even if you think you know all there is to know about Google + I would wager you will learn something in this webinar.

    The fact is Chris is smarter  or if you prefer geekier about this stuff than most of us.
    I left a comment on Chris’ post as well here: http://bit.ly/qL0bEC

    I would highly recommend reading Chris Pirillo’s post.

    • Gini Dietrich

      I actually joined Twitter in May 2007 as BearsFan07 while I stumbled my way around it. So if you want to show “facts,” let’s get them right.

    • Christopher Barger

      This is a tangential question, but…

      @blogworld  31 October 2007

      @cbarger 18 October 2007

      By the logic articulated in the comment above, my opinion is more valid than yours, right?

      Of course not. Date of joining any network is no indication of the value brought by any member of that network. Value is in the eye of the beholder… and not bestowed automatically by seniority. Your opinion is equally valid as mine, even if I was on Twitter before you. I am just as likely to be wrong as you, even if I was on Twitter before you. Date of arrival is irrelevant. To borrow the meme, it’s the content that is king, not status as a network graybeard.

      There are larger issues at play in this discussion and I don’t mean to bog down in minutae… but I have to think that there are stronger arguments to be made in Chris’s defense, and that this rationale actually diminishes the point. 

      • BlogWorld Expo

        Fair point Chris and thank you for stopping by 8). Of course it isn’t a final factor but it is an indicator. There are certainly other factors and I tried to point some of them out in my post. Past history, track record and reputation are relevant. 

        My larger point was Chris wasn’t just on Twitter early he was evangelizing it long before most of us realized how powerful it was and before most people in the world had even heard of it.

    • Danny Brown

      I think I was born a couple of years before Chris. Does that make me lifier?

    • John Haydon

      I like Tim Ferris’ definition of an expert: Someone who knows more than *most* people, not all people.

  • hook2877

    Well said, its refreshing actually to have someonebe as clear as Chris has been with describing the deliverables of his webinar.

  • Danny Brown

    Good points and nicely balanced overview, Alli. I guess it’s similar to the question are conferences taking advantage by not paying speakers? 😉

  • Steve Woodruff

    It’s a free market. Think you need it – here’s the price. Think you don’t – walk away. Lots of noise about nothing, methinks. I could think of a lot worse uses of $47 than having Chris Brogan be a sherpa for a couple hours on a new-ish platform.

  • Daniel M. Clark

    Several years ago I wrote a book about a print on demand company that got mostly good, but some bad reactions. The bad reactions, nearly all of them, centered around the argument “how can you charge money for this when people can just go to the company’s forums and various other websites and get the same information for free?” 

    The answer, of course, is the same as what Chris arrived at when he considered teaching what he knows about Google+. Yes, you can get the information for free elsewhere – *if* you want to spend the dozens of hours and all the effort required to do so. Or… you can spend a few bucks with me and I’ll teach you all that stuff because I already did the research, I already put in the hours, and I already made the effort.

    I don’t know Chris extremely well. He’s been a guest on one of my podcasts and we’ve chatted at Affiliate Summit. What I believe is that he’s a trustworthy guy with some knowledge to impart for people that don’t want to spend as much time learning Google+ as he has.

    Simple as that.

    • Allison Boyer

      You know, I think pretty much anything informational is all about paying for the convenience of someone else doing research so you don’t have to. It’s up to the consumer to make sure that they trust the person selling the information and it’s up to the seller to accurately represent the product they’re selling.

  • Kathy Nicholls

    I saw this erupt on Google+ the other day and frankly got so tired of it, I stopped reading. I’m with Tim on this one. For me, it’s all about the ROI for me. I frankly don’t care how many folks sign up and how much Chris Brogan makes on the webinar.  He’s a guy I respect and I’ve learned a lot of things from him in his blog, which he doesn’t charge me a cent to read. I’m one of those folks who hasn’t had the time to spend on Google+ to really get it figured out, so I’m thinking, for me, this one could be a really good investment. Sometimes it’s just a petty world we live in. 🙂

  • Michelle Bruno

    I paid the $47. I’m looking forward to the Webinar. Not because I expect a tutorial on Google+ (I can figure it out on my own). I’m looking for Chris’ insight, his perspective, and what he thinks the implications will be for my industry (yes I’ll hang around for the Q & A and try to ask him). I have paid for his advice before and probably will again. I thought it was worth it. Plus, I’ve gotten a ton of free info him over the years–his blog, his presence at conferences, his webinars. I don’t mind paying him sometimes too. He has never hidden the fact that he charges for his services. I respect that. I consider it a cheap way to outsource my own data collection efforts. The discussion about whether Chris Brogan is a Google+ expert is irrelevant. You don’t have to be an expert on trains to know that a moving one will flatten you if you stand in front of it. I may feel differently after tomorrow, but I’m willing to take that chance.

  • Erica Allison

    Alli, I think you’ve done a great job here of writing a balanced overview.  I am sure Chris knows as much as anyone can know about Google + in the 250 hours he’s devoted to it (well, probably more), but it still seems “early” for me for a webinar already.  I’m sure the folks signed up for it will learn a ton and like you said, I’m not necessarily his target at the moment; although, I guess I could be and just not know it! 

    It’s still amazing to me how this topic has touched such a hot spot for so many folks.  There’s such a desire to be “in the know” and have the latest and greatest in such a fast, ever changing world of social media that it results in a weird sense of desperation and a rush to make statements or be the first to cover the landscape.  I’m glad I’m not a Guru or an Expert! 

  • Katherine Salt

    I have been so surprised at what a kerfuffle Mr Brogan’s webinar has caused. It didn’t occur to me for one second that the investment of $47 and 2 hours of my time was anything but an absolute bargain, a cheeky shortcut to finding out all I need to know about Google + without spending hours wading through articles and experimenting with a platform that may not be the next big thing. I agree with Chris Pirillo’s point that if 2 hours of your time aren’t worth more than $47 out might be time to look at your charging structure.

  • Kirsten Wright

    Alli- thanks so much for including my article! I think you made some seriously valid points and you are right on in why I wrote mine. For my audience, it just doesn’t make sense at this stage of the game (down the road, I may change my mind…I’m allowed to ;))

  • Delores Williams

    I think you are missing some key points, but since this issue has been overblown, I won’t belabor the issue, except to say in the online world if you teach something people automatically label you an expert. Whole courses are geared to you becoming an “expert” in this or that in a weekend. Gini made valid points which when the floodgates of snake oil salesmen come along teaching workshops and such, you will see she was right. Think of it like all the so called Twitter “experts” who teach others, but either don’t have an account or suck at it. This is now a dead issue, which has gotten everyone lots of hits, so there is a win for all.

    • BlogWorld Expo

      If her point was to warn people of being ripped off by random snake oil salesmen that’s what she should have done. That is a very valid point btw.

      What she should not have done was use a good mans name to drive traffic to her post and associate his name with said snake oil salesmen. I’m sorry Delores but I don’t see how impugning Chris’
      integrity is defensible.

      • Bob LeDrew

        Dear BlogWorldExpo: 

        I’ve got a couple of concerns here. Are you speaking personally here, or as Mr. BlogWorldExpo? I think you need to make that clear. 

        On July 1st, Chris told his followers this: 

        IS IT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
        Probably in a few years. It’s really early days right now. People don’t want a lot of ads or spam there. There aren’t a ton of leads unless your leads are web nerds. So, I don’t think it’s really for the typical business person yet.” Then on July 17, I think Gini made a valid point. Chris (who I’ve met once, followed for some time, and respect for his accomplishments) said that he’d spent 250 hours learning G+ and was ready to tell people how to use it for business. He wrote: ”
        learn Google+ from the guy who made Twitter a business staple back in 2006, and who will do the same for business in 2011.So in his own words, in three weeks, Chris has spent 11 hours per day on G+, and learned enough about it and its business application to provide an hour-long class for a tool that isn’t “really for the typical business person yet”, but “probably in a few years.” It’s Chris’s right to put on the course, and it’s anyone’s right to choose to take it. And it’s equally the right of anyone to question the foundations of the course or the reasoning behind it. I’ve met Chris once. I respect his accomplishments. I’ve never met Gini. I respect her accomplishments. On this, I think she committed no foul, and that she owes no apology. And I think you owe it to visitors to this site to be clear as to whether this is Rick Calvert speaking or whether this is a major conference speaking, just as Allison Boyer did. 

        • Danny Brown

          I watched WWE last night (what can I say, I’m a sucker for cheesy entertainment). There were some fun storylines, including the organization’s head making WWE look foolish by things he did, that were attributed to WWE. 

          Although he was speaking, the public perception was that it was the WWE brand that was speaking.

          Anyhoo, to cut a long story short, the other partners/Directors of the brand met, and relieved the main guy, because he was becoming an embarrassment by certain things he said.

          Funny how life imitates art. 

        • BlogWorld Expo

          Thank you for weighing in Bob. I appreciate your opinion. I
          am certainly speaking for myself. I try to point that out regularly but didn’t do
          that on this thread and you are right. I should have. However I don’t think
          couching my opinion as a personal one vs. the entity of BlogWorld & New
          Media Expo changes my level of responsibility to my friends, our customers and
          the public at large.

          Gini consistently has, intentionally or not, besmirched Chris’ reputation and
          ethics. I still fail to see how that is defensible.

          She has every right to her opinions. So do you. So do I. Which brings us to
          your point about rights.

          For some reason, people who sling mud always try to hide behind the “I
          have a right to speak my opinion” defense. No one that I know of has
          denied her rights or anyone else’s. She seems to be exercising her rights all
          over the blogosphere, at least the incestuous portion that belongs to the
          social media cool kids.

          But anyone who goes around casting suspicion on other people’s character should
          expect to be called on it. In fact, I think the rest of us have a
          responsibility to call them on it. 

          If Gini’s post stopped at saying in her opinion she thought it was too early to
          offer a paid webinar, and that she didn’t see any value in it, she wouldn’t
          have crossed any lines. If she had cited un-named or proven hucksters in her
          post, that would be perfectly acceptable. But she didn’t do that. She
          consciously chose to say:

          “ANYONE” who would do such a
          thing is:

          “playing on
          other people’s fears”
          “taking advantage of people”

          And went on to say:

          “But there are still people out there claiming to have all the secrets
          because they claim to have introduced Twitter to the business world so
          surely they understand how Google+ is going to affect your daily life”

          Doesn’t that last bit come across to you with a bit of incredulity and snark?

          It sure did to me.
          Who did Gini link to?

          Chris Brogan and his
          webinar. She singled him out as her example of a charlatan, not directly, but
          in the most cowardly way of insinuation. Using his post as the example of what
          “people who are taking advantage of their customers” are doing. With
          all due respect, that in my opinion is crossing a line, Bob. 

          I know Chris personally. I am not implying we are best friends, or that I know
          him as well as his family or real life friends. But we have met, hung out and
          chatted on numerous occasions over the years. 
          We have had numerous private back channel conversations during that
          time, and I think I have a pretty good sense of who the man is. He is not a
          charlatan or anything else that Gini has implied him of being in her post and
          subsequent comments.

          He is a good person, a fair person, a generous person and an honest person. I
          have witnessed him helping out countless friends, both real and virtual, not
          for his own gain but just because he could. He also happens to have a very
          public history that supports my impression of him and none (that I am aware of)
          that supports Gini’s. You will also find numerous other people who have known
          Chris and dealt with him for a long period of time both personally and
          professionally are defending him as well.

          Does that make him a saint or beyond criticism?

          Of course not. It just makes him above this. Does Chris have
          fan boys and girls who will defend him no matter what he does or says? Sure he
          does. I am not one of them.

          I would point out Gini has some of them herself.  Most people with any sort of celebrity or
          fame do; even if that fame only extends to a very small corner of the internet. 

          And who is condemning him?

          People who don’t know him. People who have something to gain
          by doing so and people who are listening to those who have something to gain.

          I am not defending Chris Brogan, the social media thought
          leader. I am defending the principal of protecting good people from being used
          to build someone else’s social media credibility and cheap link bait.

          So I ask you, what exactly are Chris’ rights in all this?

          Gini’s post was the classic “is it true you still beat your wife”
          type of accusation. Chris is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t reply.
          No matter what he says, the mud has been slung, and for some people who don’t
          know any better that mud is going to stick.

          Gini has a reputation too. For calling things as she sees
          them and for speaking truth to power. In this instance, her cries of “power to
          the people” are at worst nothing more than cynical opportunism and poorly
          worded, poorly argued analysis at best. 

          When confronted about it, not just by me but by several other people, she never
          apologized for it or tried to clarify other than to say “I meant no
          offense but I still think you are ripping people off” (I am
          paraphrasing her numerous comments here).

          Gini says she meant no offense. Neither did I. Do you think
          she or her supporters are offended?

          They certainly seem to be. It is quite different when the
          shoe is on the other foot isn’t it?

          You might be asking what do I have to gain by this? 

          Quite honestly, I have nothing gain; to the contrary, by
          standing up for a principal I believe in; I stand to attract critics myself, and probably turn off potential
          BlogWorld attendees who support Gini. So be it. Gini has a lot of friends and a
          lot of followers. She’s simply wrong in this case. I sincerely hope she comes
          to realize it.   

          One last note, I would never have written this post, but we
          don’t tell our bloggers what they can and can’t post. When Alli posted and
          people replied I felt obligated to respond.

          bloggers what they can and can’t post. When Alli posted and
          people replied

          • Allison Boyer

            Hence my “this is my opinion, not necessarily the opinion of BlogWorld as an entity” comment at the beginning of the post. One of the reasons I personally love working on this site is that I can open up discussions like this occasionally, rather than just regurgitating blog tips or news stories that you can find on every blog out there. I think it’s really valuable for the community to talk about these topics. To me, open discussion is what BlogWorld is all about. And really. at the end of the day, while I might not personally agree with EVERYTHING Rick says or EVERYTHING Gini says (or everything anyone says), I’m a better blogger and a better person for having the chance to listen.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s what I don’t get: Why are people crucifying others who simply know their audience, and offer them what they want? If you don’t want to take the class, don’t. But please, let’s use our manners and just say “no thanks” rather than being all snarky and accusatory.

    Thanks for writing this article. I like your insight and fairness. Let’s all try and be nice to one another, even when we don’t agree, K? Thanks for taking the high road.

    • Allison Boyer

      Thanks! I’ve been accused of being snarky in the past, and I think we all can be especially when we’re passionate about a topic…but I do think that when someone is accused of taking advantage of their customers, that crosses a line. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I think it is even find to tell your readers or clients that this is not a good webinar to purchase, but accusing someone of ripping people off skirts the line of slander in my opinion. You’re totally right – we can disagree in a nice way! I just wish more people did that.

      • Anonymous

        Absolutely! Really well done.  Thanks for standing up and saying “oh no you dih-in’t!”  (For the record, I’m all about snarky…. just not in a mean way…) 😛

  • Gini Dietrich

    I’m pretty sure I never said Chris isn’t an expert so don’t pay him. 

    What I did say is it’s waaaay too early for ANYONE to be charging people for Google+ education. It’s been less than a month, it’s still in beta, Google doesn’t even know what it’s going to do, and based on their last two flops, I think it’s safe to wait and see what happens. We have clients who are in there and saying, “I don’t have anyone to talk to. This is a waste of my time.” Sure, it’s great fun for those of us who are early adopters and have lots of friends in there. But the general business community will derive no value from it. Yet.That said, Chris makes some very valid points that people just want to learn how to set up Circles and how to organize their friends. I get that and THAT conversation wouldn’t have been had without any of us talking about it.

    The great thing about living in the United States is we can make money on our brains. My opinion is that we should wait and see what happens with G+ before we go extolling our wisdom on something that is less than a month old.

    • BlogWorld Expo

      and by saying ” it’s waaaay too early for ANYONE to be charging people for Google+ education”

      and other lines in your post like this one:

       “But there are still people out there claiming to have all the secrets because they claim to have introduced Twitter to the business world so surely they understand how Google+ is going to affect your daily life.”

      and  this one:

      “The “experts” are taking advantage of people who feel like they’re going to be left behind if they don’t figure out Google+. Now.”

      and numerous other comments you are doing everything but flat out accusing anyone who would do such a thing of being a snake oil salesman. Chris Brogan is the only example you mention by name. So how are your readers supposed to take that Gini?

      There is nothing wrong with having an opinion. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with each other. What I and many other people have an issue with is slandering someones good name.

      That is what you did. That’s my opinion. I don’t see anyone who agrees with your opinion saying you did otherwise. You should apologize publicly. That’s my opinion. 

      By the way Chris’ webinar just ended and it was worth every penny.

      • Anonymous

        The difference between professional advice and personal brand/blogger amateurism is often mixed.  But bloggers who seek to provide advice to CMOs as Chris does cannot afford to blur that line as easily as an environmental voice.  Unfortunately, while this webinar was occurring, Google+ began booting real brands from its network, enforcing a business no fly zone until it launches its formal offering.

        The details and links to the media reports are here: http://www.zoeticamedia.com/advisory-google-begins-booting-brands. This includes one from LA, your next home.

        Conferences are often like editorial mastheads.  They do their best when they provide objective content. When they don’t we have the fall. The fall of COMDEX, the fall of News of the World, the degradation of MSNBC, the decline of Networld Interop.  I wonder if BlogWorldExpo will suffer the same fate as a result of comments like this one, demanding an apology from @ginidietrich:disqus, for providing what has proven in a matter of 24 hours to be sound business advice, all to protect the reputation of your last keynote speaker.

        • Chris Brogan

          I will never ever claim objectivity. (Just a tiny detail.)

          • Anonymous

            Well, at least you get authenticity points for that.

            Now that I have my panties out of a wad, nice little hat tip to your Red Sox on what is looking like a great season. Hope my Phillies meet em in the series. If so we’ll need to channel our recent rivalry to a more positive end with some sort of wager or friendly competitive fundraiser. Have a nice weekend, and stay cool in the heat.

    • Allison Boyer

      I didn’t claim you said that. I claimed you said Google+ is way too new for “experts.”…which I believe is what you said, and I agreed with you. *I* am the one who said that just because someone isn’t an expert, you shouldn’t pay them. You didn’t really cover this topic one way or another. As a writer, I was building my own opinions rather than just regurgitating what everyone else had to say. Believe it or not, original thoughts do run through my mind every once in a while.

      Though I believe you did say, at least indirectly, that “people” doing this (i.e. Chris) were taking advantage of their fanbase, which I don’t believe is true. I’m not sure it’s slander, since it is your opinion, but it certainly is a bold statement to stand behind. In my opinion, for someone to take advantage of consumers, they have to misrepresent their product. I don’t think Chris did that.

      • Gini Dietrich

        Very fair point, Alli. I did say it’s too soon for anyone to be an expert on Google+. I stand behind that. Thanks for the professional discourse – I respect that.

        • Allison Boyer

          That’s what it’s all about, right? As I said in one of the comments below that has likely long since been buried: I might not agree with everything you say (or Rick says for that matter – or anyone), but I think I’m a better blogger and a better person because I have the opportunity to listen to others’ points of view. To me, that’s what BlogWorld is all about.

        • Howie at Sky Pulse Media

          I think everything is semantics.

          If Chris (or anyone) says ‘Let me teach you about how to use G+ to benefit your business for $47’ to me that is disingenuous because to me G+ is just another form of networking right now. And I seriously am skeptical of any Social Network offering businesses true marketing heft aside from better served digital ads you can by just like digital ads on the standard web. In fact a Social network is just the Web and we have to stop viewing them as islands that are separate. When people shovel the BS and say you must be on Facebook because that is where they spend their time that is a lie. Its 31 minutes a day for the average user down from 55 in April 2010. I spend hours on the web. The fact is be on the Web. Facebook is the Web. Being on Facebook means you are on the Web. Not Facebook.

          And we all have Twitter and LinkedIn and Conferences and Blogs for networking and to say G+ will change things for the better so early to me is fraud. I can follow you on Twitter and see every tweet. I can add you to a circle and never see one post if you don’t publicly post anything. And I rarely publicly post.

          But if someone says ‘Do you want me to teach you how to use G+ in it’s current format for $47 because you aren’t very bright?’ I am ok with that. Why someone would pay when it is free to play with is beyond me.

          Hangouts – Can’t we do this with Skype? Is it any different?

          Sparks – I have some set up. They are google alerts on topics actually. Maybe there is a business strategy to get your stuff listed. But curation totally sucks right now.

          Circles – really? Someone needs help with Circles?

          Now the one thing Facebook haters like me though are happy about is someone like Chris viewing G+ already as a long term network of value that has staying power.

        • chrislang

          Actually, I think being an expert on Internet marketing and teaching how to apply that to Google+ is worth paying for. So, while many will try to tell you they are a G+ expert, I think it would be more advisable to look at someone’s overall success in IM, rather than G+.

          Green marketing skills that will serve you where ever you apply them are what will be the best and serve you the longest.

          And it’s not exactly Chris Brogan’s first day on the web, so, depending on what Chris decides to bring to the table from his arsenal, I think some viewpoints here may be a bit incorrect.

    • Mark Davidson

      C’mon now. Own it.

  • Chris Theisen

    My main issue with this is the fact it was touted as Google + for Business and business gets thrown out there. While his business can be helped by Google + most people think differently when a webinar is presented as being for “business” Sure he spells it out in depth but none of it is truly geared towards business. Right now Google + is for driving blog & website traffic, community actions etc but its barely usable for that, let alone business. Most of the people who can use it to drive traffic and action probably know it already, but hey for $47 & Chris Brogan why not right? He isn’t using it to teach you Google + he is using it to drive traffic to HBW. More power to him but I would be a better steward of my own brand and peoples money (if it were me or if anyone were asking my opinion) sure your time is more valuable than you are charging and your are providing some value but that doesnt mean you should just because you can or because people will pay for it. Seems like he is taking the middle ground instead of the high ground an established industry veteran should take on something like this; In my opinion, if anyone cares. 

    • Allison Boyer

      “Right now Google + is for driving blog & website traffic, community
      actions etc but its barely usable for that, let alone business.” – I disagree with that. I think different people are using it in different ways. I have an artist friend who started using it, for instance, and he’s been promoting his art that way, even made a few sales. He doesn’t have a blog, but he does have a business, and he’s using Google+ for it.

  • Berni Xiong

    I just had this very conversation earlier this week with someone. And, I couldn’t agree with you more! If you don’t want what he is offering. If you don’t think you need what he is offering. Then don’t subscribe to Chris Brogan’s catalog! It’s that plain and simple. 

    The reason I LOVE what you wrote is because you can remove “Chris Brogan” and “Google+ Expert” from the title and body of this post, replace it with somebody else and another topic, and you’ll still have the same underlying issue: 

    We like to b*tch and moan about what we DON’T want so that we can blame others when we don’t go out and get what we DO want.

    A little harsh, but I’m giving my shin kicking perspective and keeping it real. 

    In my profession as a coach, I see people make this mistake all the time. The wrong mindset focuses on what is going wrong, what is not good, and what is frustrating. The wrong mindset is sucking his own passion, energy and time doing things that doesn’t serve him, like judging and criticizing others.

    And while this mindset is over here judging and criticizing, he’s losing valuable time that could be spent doing more productive things, such as leading a webinar on how to best maximize Google+ to improve your business! We all know that time lost can never be regained. And knowing that time is money, staying in this wrong mindset will cost you LOTS of money!

    So remember that when you’re over here complaining, you’re not making a dime. And while you’re throwing away your money, the person with the right mindset is going out there doing what they love and getting what they want. Which mindset would you rather have?

    Ray Goforth said it best, “There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: Those who are afraid to try themselves, and those who are afraid that you will succeed.”

  • Liz S

    I read this post. And Chris’ “haters gonna hate post” and Gini’s original It’s too early post. And my impression is that the argument is more about perception and semantics than anything else. I have observed Chris for about three years now. And whether he calls himself an expert or not, others – both inside and outside the fishbowl – do. So when Chris puts on a seminar or sells blog post ideas, the perception is that he knows what he is selling and by default, is offering his expertise as an expert. I am among the many who believe that it’s too early to offer that up for the Plus. And your contention that Chris probably knows more about the Plus than anyone in the world is not based in fact. It is what you believe, just as I believe something different. Frankly, I am not afraid to call it on Chris or Solis any more or less than I would be to call it on Obama. We should not have to apologize for our convictions.

    • Allison Boyer

      I don’t think it’s fair, to say “even though Chris told us otherwise, we’re going to call him an expert” and then blame him for that. You have to take informational products at face value. If the person selling it clearly states what it is and a consumer decides to read more into it, I think it’s the consumer’s fault. None of us can control what other people are going to think, we can only be as clear as possible about our intentions, which I think Chris was.

      Just a note, that I don’t think I ever claims that “Chris probably knows more about the Plus than anyone in the world” – I think some commenters or other bloggers may have said that, but I haven’t. At least, not that I remember!

  • Mark Story

    Rick,

    I am going to try to take some of the emotion out of this and present to you and others what I believe to be fact.  You have stated that Gini “slandered”  Chris’ good name.  I am not a lawyer, but pay close attention to the words that people use and how they use them.  First, slander means oral communication: “The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.” Written communication is libel, and the bar is set higher for that.  Libel is: “A published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation.”  There are two important distinctions.

    First, libel has a pretty high bar, especially legally.  It has to be FALSE and it has to be damaging.  Gini’s opinion cannot be false because it is just that:  opinion. 

    Second, the judgment about if something is slander or libel often comes down to a definition of bias:  was the writer biased against the subject with the intent of intentionally causing harm to his reputation?

    All of this has we wondering what your intent is.  Clearly, you have defended Chris and it’s equally clear that you think that Gini was wrong and should apologize.  If the root meanings of slander and libel deal with the intent of the person sending the message, what is your intent?  And — just asking — do you think that you might be biased for Chris’ point of view and against Gini’s?  Or better put, do you feel that your comments are presented without bias?

    Just wondering.

    Mark

    • BlogWorld Expo

      Thank you for the comment and the spirit it was intended in Mark.

      I knew someone would bring up the
      legal definitions 8). I am certainly not trying to make any kind of legal
      argument and have no disagreement with your definitions.

      Let me answer the last question first.Without a doubt my thoughts are presented
      with bias. I have known Chris for several years. How could I
      possibly comment without bias?

      That being said I think it gives me some insight into the man’s character. I
      can say with near certainty Gini’s characterizations are untrue.

      Chris could be the biggest con man of all time and I am open to evidence of
      that, but given my personal dealings with him and his very public track record
      with hundreds of thousands of individuals I simply don’t see any support for
      that conclusion.

      My entire interest here is to point out when someone makes accusations; be they
      implied, insinuated or otherwise they should have evidence to back it up before
      besmirching someone’s character. Not just a feeling or an opinion. Those are pretty low bars for pretty strong words imo; particularly when you are accusing someone who is generally thought of as an
      ethical professional.

      Many people have argued Gini didn’t cross any line and nothing she said
      actually harmed Chris or questioned his ethics or character.

      My question is simply if she didn’t cross the line of civil discourse; where exactly is that line then?
      Was she close to it?

      I certainly think phrases like:

       “playing on other people’s fears” and
      “taking advantage of people” are incendiary at the least. 

      Maybe I’m in the wrong and the one who is completely out of touch with social norms. I don’t think so but I am willing to be convinced otherwise.

      One last question, if Gini’s comments were within those bounds, where did mine cross over? 

      Didn’t I apply similar scrutiny to her post and subsequent comments that she applied to Chris? 

      I would argue I had more information than she did since I actually paid for and attended the webinar today. I learned quite a bit. I have another comment coming in reply to Bob that you may want to read as well.

      I am trying not to say the same thing over and over but move the conversation forward. To me this issue is well beyond defending any one person. It is about the line between legitimate criticism and unfounded character assassination.

    • BlogWorld Expo

      Thank you for the comment and the spirit it was intended in Mark.

      I knew someone would bring up the
      legal definitions 8). I am certainly not trying to make any kind of legal
      argument and have no disagreement with your definitions.

      Let me answer the last question first.Without a doubt my thoughts are presented
      with bias. I have known Chris for several years. How could I
      possibly comment without bias?

      That being said I think it gives me some insight into the man’s character. I
      can say with near certainty Gini’s characterizations are untrue.

      Chris could be the biggest con man of all time and I am open to evidence of
      that, but given my personal dealings with him and his very public track record
      with hundreds of thousands of individuals I simply don’t see any support for
      that conclusion.

      My entire interest here is to point out when someone makes accusations; be they
      implied, insinuated or otherwise they should have evidence to back it up before
      besmirching someone’s character. Not just a feeling or an opinion. Those are pretty low bars for pretty strong words imo; particularly when you are accusing someone who is generally thought of as an
      ethical professional.

      Many people have argued Gini didn’t cross any line and nothing she said
      actually harmed Chris or questioned his ethics or character.

      My question is simply if she didn’t cross the line of civil discourse; where exactly is that line then?
      Was she close to it?

      I certainly think phrases like:

       “playing on other people’s fears” and
      “taking advantage of people” are incendiary at the least. 

      Maybe I’m in the wrong and the one who is completely out of touch with social norms. I don’t think so but I am willing to be convinced otherwise.

      One last question, if Gini’s comments were within those bounds, where did mine cross over? 

      Didn’t I apply similar scrutiny to her post and subsequent comments that she applied to Chris? 

      I would argue I had more information than she did since I actually paid for and attended the webinar today. I learned quite a bit. I have another comment coming in reply to Bob that you may want to read as well.

      I am trying not to say the same thing over and over but move the conversation forward. To me this issue is well beyond defending any one person. It is about the line between legitimate criticism and unfounded character assassination.

  • Liz S

    My Bad. BWE said that: Trust me Chris knows more about Google + and how it works today than just about anyone in the world.

    Regardless, I stand by my comment. Chris every well knows how he has positioned himself in this space; after all, he is marketing his services and any marketer worth his or her weight better understand how others perceive them and their value. He is perceived as an “expert,” and as I said, that perception is what sells tickets and fills seats; it really doesn’t matter what he says “he meant” or if he claims to just be a “typist;” what matters is how others read between the lines.

    I, for one, never believed that I was his target audience. But I still maintain that it’s too early to jump the gun and start marketing a knowledge in a space that is barely past its teething phase. That’s my opinion and I am sticking to it. 

  • Kami Watson Huyse

    “Also, when I mentioned this post on Twitter a lot of people showed interest in reading something where I disagreed with the mainstream opinion out there”I am not sure that the idea that Gini expressed was “mainstream.” I would actually say that the majority would say, “live and let live and leave Chris alone.” What Gini said was kind of brave (given the blowup over it), and as you mentioned, in line with the thinking of many of us who have been around awhile and seen a few things (not a majority, BTW). 

    I do agree that we need conversations about this that don’t dissolve into one person protecting another person and warfare. I think both ideas are valid. Even people who have spent a lot of time in G+ are only in Kindergarten at this point, and on the other end, if other people want to pay for that level of knowledge at this point, who cares? It is kind of their choice. I certainly don’t think that this argument is about people getting an honest wage for their time and somehow it has dissolved to that.

    People like Chris become the symbols for concern because they are the most well known. But I have seen other people who have added, Google+ expert to their social profiles. I think that G+ is in a goldrush period and the buyer must certainly beware. The biggest losers will be small businesses looking desperately to keep up and some person that says they will “get them into G+.” This is not Chris’ gig. He is a speaker and a thinker. Still, he is imitated and copied by people who aren’t as thoughtful as he, and that is a concern.

    • Allison Boyer

      I agree, that’s DEFINITELY a concern. It falls in line with my “you are not a social media expert” post from earlier this year. A lot of people DO try to take advantage of people when it comes to teaching others about social media.

    • Anonymous

      Brilliantly said, Kami. I couldn’t agree more. The biggest losers will definitely be SMBs who fall prey to the hordes of self-proclaimed experts who will try and emulate Chris and others who actually do understand the online space. And as someone who’s an advocate for small business owners everywhere, that’s what gives me pause.

      This is America. Thank God we can sell whatever we want to whomever we want and caveat emptor still rules the day.

      What I really feel, after wading through ALL of these comments is this: Why can’t we all just get along? I like Gini. And think she has a point. I like Chris. And think he should be able to sell whatever he wants, whenever he wants. And I do think it’s too early for this stuff, but at the end of the day, I have no real beef with a blogger and business expert in her own right sharing an opinion, and another expert selling what he wants to sell.

      What bothers the crap out of me, though, is the mudslinging that happens as the result of discussions like this. Aren’t we all old enough and professional enough that this isn’t really necessary? Gini didn’t slander Chris – she disagreed with something and wrote about it. As a result, she probably helped Chris make even MORE money. And Chris, he’s a good guy. And, more importantly, he’s a grownup, he’s used to people disagreeing with him. And he disagrees with people all the time – publicly. This – it ain’t no big thang. It’s just a conversation.

      When did it become necessary for it to be so nasty and personal?

      That, I just don’t get. Can’t we all just get along??

  • Anonymous

    In general, I dislike all “calling out posts.” I find it neither helpful nor entertaining when bloglebrities engage in public sniping…that said your post offers a fair and balanced perspective on a heated topic. Chris never claimed to be an expert and I see nothing wrong with charging people to share what you have learned. In fact, I wish I were better at packaging knowledge for sale. I completely agree that those inside the bubble forget that there is a whole world of people who are not social media savvy. I had an author ask me last week, “what is a blog?” It is important to understand that  “we” are not always our audience. To dismiss the GREATER part of the population that is still learning what the tools are and how to use them is arrogant and for some professionally reckless. I have not read all of the posts surrounding this controversy but this one hits the mark for me.

    • Deb Ng

      I’ve come to learn that people who do “calling out posts” aren’t so interested in saving the world or warning of potential scams. They crave the controversy, traffic and drama and hope for reactionary comments and blog poss such as this one.   I also feel the people who are constantly calling out others shouldn’t act so surprised when they receive reactions such as those culminating from this sillyness.

      • Anonymous

        Deb, over the years you have proven yourself to be a sensible, and fair person and I have great respect for your insights. I share your thoughts on the “calling out.” There is definitely room for insight and opinions but I prefer when it is not personal. 

  • Howie at Sky Pulse Media

    Stepping out of the social media bubble for perspective on this topic. Because there is a perfect example of why it is ok to have Chris’s peers strongly opposing his actions even if they are 1] legal and 2] its buyer beware.

    Michelle Bachmann’s Husband charges people to come see him to pray away their gayness. Is it ok for the Psychology and Medical Industries to attack him for being a huckster and fraud since it is true?

    Aren’t we allowed to attack people who don’t believe in evolution which is a proven fact (evolution has ZERO to do with how the world was created).

    Can’t we attack the GOP who for years said deficits and massive borrowing do not matter even though now we are jacked up to high heaven.

    It is legal to have free speech. It is legal to fleece people if you do it within the current law. It is also legal for peers to take opposing views and be very vocal about it.

    So I agree with your post on buyer beware. But I just think it is also seller beware. Chris jumped in early to make a buck and he risked his peers calling him out. And so instead of a buzz about ‘lets pay for the webinar because Chris is on to something’ there is a larger buzz online claiming he isn’t. He could of avoided that if he had handled this differently in my opinion.

  • Dillyla

    How are you disagreeing with the mainstream opinion? does mainstream opinion say you shouldnt  research a product and understand if you are the right buyer for it before it gets bought? I appreciate that you are passionate about the online arena but in all honesty it seems to me like you are working hard (and writing long) to turn it into a lion’s den

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  • chrislang

    One thought on Google+ being for business or not for business. Let’s think Brick and Mortar and Google local search. If a Google+ Local business page replaces your Google Places page, as I have been predicting for 3 months now, or even integrates more deeply with it…. Would it not be wise to spend a measly $47 to even learn one important feature that could make you money? Or make your local business clients more money?

    That is where I believe Google+ biz pages will have the earliest and most impact, local search, and how much of Google’s total search traffic is geo targeted local business searches? Like 30% I believe? Almost all searches from mobile devices are local business oriented. Don’t write G+ off or buying information about it, that is being very shortsighted.

    As far as the dime a dozen instant experts that will spout up around Google+, Chris Brogan was on Buzz from beginning to end, just like Louis Gray was, he didn’t just join G+ and start pounding his chest, and neither did most of the others I consider to be real G+ knowledgable, insightful users.

    Oh, and BTW, you are not an expert on anything unless someone of top authority says you are. So putting “Social Media Expert” or “Social Media Strategist” on your social profiles usually makes me run in the other direction. Just my 2 cents guys……

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