Why Trust Is The Most Important Social Currency

On social networks and in online communities, the primary currency is not Facebook Credits or any other kind of virtual currency.

It’s trust.

The more time you spend in any community — online or otherwise — the more you come to trust the people and feel comfortable in the surroundings.

When building and moderating an online community, or interacting with a customer on a social profile, your goal is to make people feel comfortable enough to open up to you and have a conversation.

Trust is what guides purchases from decision to hitting “buy”. It’s what makes someone want to recommend a business or individual.

When we talk about what the ROI of social media is, or what the goal should be for starting a social profile or online community, an important question must be asked:

Will it make people feel like they can trust us?

On Monday, author and columnist Adam Penenberg wrote about the topic of online trust in his Fast Company column:

It wasn’t until European nations could agree on standard weights and measures, which facilitated trust, that trade and commerce flourished. While it may say “In God We Trust” on every dollar bill, what we are really trusting is that this piece of paper or coin–nowadays often a digital representation on a screen–is worth what we all believe it’s worth.

Trust is fundamental to the growth of the internet, online communities, social media, ecommerce… all of it.

Spend enough time interacting with someone in an online community, and despite never having met the person, you likely will feel like this person is a close friend, or at the very least someone you trust. Adam writes:

We humans are hard-wired to commingle with one another offline and on-, and the web and its platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it more efficient than ever. That’s because virtual relationships can be as real as actual relationships.

Depending on the company, the way customers show that will be different. Take the time to determine how your company should measure that, and build marketing plans around it.

Instead of increased CTR and conversion rates driving your marketing plan, look for ways to enhance the trust your customers and users feel when they interact with you online.