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The New Trust Currency

In an open society, trust is everything. The more consumers trust your brand, the more they are likely to recommend and buy it. Trust can take many shapes and forms on the web. Brands can demonstrate that they are trusted through consumer ratings, comments, awards, research or expert endorsements. A new form of trust is the display of public interfaces. In other words, showing pics of friends who “like” the brand or content. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, these pics of your friends’ “like” might become the new trust currency.

Displaying public interfaces has at least two advantages for brands: 1) establishing trust through associations and 2) providing a sense of belonging.

1) Brands are associations of consumers’ beliefs. Consumers buy brands that provide emotional reinforcement, especially pride in who they are and what they do according to Dan Hill’s research published in “Emotionomics”. Since “friends” are part of who we are, displaying their pics and “like” will help to reinforce consumers’ beliefs. The stronger the ties or relationships, the more pride consumers will take in their decisions. People don’t want to feel the need to defend their choices.

2) Brands are also social in nature. People want to be part of a tribe. Displaying public information creates a perception of a circle of trust that consumers want to fit in and participate with. Consumers are more likely to engage with content if their friends endorse it.

New technology has already opened the door to display public interfaces across all the digital touchpoints. Consumers only need to opt in to allow their data to be transfered from social platforms to media sites. The increase in displays of public interfaces is already apparent among publishing companies, which are gaining consumer trust by accumulating recommendations of their content across platforms. We are likely to see this trust currency become mainstream on the web. The sites that command the most “like” from public interfaces – those brands with the most significant trust currency – are likely to be the richest in our digital society.


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