An Interview With Social Media Maven and Digital Nomad Chris Brogan


If I referred to Chris Brogan simply as “Mr. Social Media,” plenty of people would guess who I was talking about. Chris has been blogging since 1998 and his blog is now one of the worlds’ 100 most authoritative blogs, according to Technorati.

Chris writes, speaks and consults on how businesses can improve marketing and PR through the use of social software and community platforms (like Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, etc.). He is president of New Marketing Labs and has a book coming out later this year called Trust Agents about how to tap the power of social software and networks to build your business.

If you’re interested in being able to work from anywhere, Chris is a great resource. He’s a real digital nomad. He recently teamed up with Citrix Online to create a new blog for digital nomads and road warriors called Work Shifting.

Thanks to Chris for agreeing to do this interview. Here’s what he had to say about being a digital nomad and about how social media can help people create a better lifestyle.

Barr: You’ve been called one of the original digital nomads. Tell us a little about your lifestyle, and how your career supports it.

Brogan: I’m now president of a small social media marketing company. We work with big companies to show them how to re-humanize using the latest web tools. I travel a lot for this business, because oddly, it’s easier to show people in person how these web tools let one build relationships virtually. Because most of my customers are at the far end of long airplane rides, my entire business has to fit into a laptop and live on the cloud. It works rather well for me, because of how I work (odd hours and random bursts of passion). My team is similarly configured. We work in the cloud.

You got involved with social media long before it was such a buzzword. You’re now respected as an expert in the field. How did you see the social media trend coming, and how did you become such an authority?

Don’t laugh too hard. I didn’t see it coming as much as I knew that it was always there. From the moment I first got a computer (1984), I knew that these tools were exactly what I needed to connect with people who didn’t live on my street. It’s been the same way ever since. Truth is, I can’t figure out how businesses have been successful without these tools, and I’m sure they feel the weight being lifted from their shoulders since embracing them.

How am I an authority? I work hours and hours and hours a day trying things out, applying them to projects, and seeing what comes next.

Readers of this blog are interested in creating and living their dream lifestyles. How can social media help people live a better lifestyle?

Social media lets people connect from anywhere in the world and demonstrate their humanity. If your lifestyle designers in training want to live the good life, they’d best be ready to be human at any distance. Being “one of us,” for example, is a way to ensure that people know you are there because you’re part of a community and not just to sell something. Make your own game, for instance, refers to how you can’t just follow along with what’s come before, and now these tools have come along that empower such experiences.

What types of new career options is social media enabling for creative people?

These tools allow people to build their own genuine marketing and PR outreach experiences without the aid of a huge agency or old-fashioned approaches. Social media, when applied well, makes for a direct connection between a business owner and their prospective audience.

How do you think social media will make it easier for people to become digital nomads or self employed?

Social media tools don’t empower self-employment. They’re tools. But they do give people the ability to consider how they communicate. I can workshift right now from anywhere, because my team and I use both Twitter externally and internally. We use all kinds of cloud tools like Google Docs and a host of other products so that we don’t have to share space, don’t need an IT department, and we can just function at all the various places on the world.

It always seems like you have dozens of simultaneous projects going on. A lot of my readers also have many things going on at once. How do you balance everything, and how do you know what is important to focus on?

Balance and focus. Wow, you’re asking all the hard questions today. I’m not very well-balanced right now. My physical health could be a lot better, as could my stress levels. I’m not sleeping enough. The reason is that I’m getting lots of big opportunities thrown my way and not saying no enough.

I balance by working on the biggest projects I can possibly take on, and then I farm out all the others to people who could use the work. I figure that if I can take on the big challenges, then I can write about what I learn, share the best stuff with everyone, and that’ll move everyone further down the field. Seems fair, eh?

photo by The Shane H

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Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I’ve been writing here since 2009. Join my email list for new articles about supporting yourself doing something you love: