The future is the believe economy

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Source:   —  April 25, 2016, at 2:44 AM

How to connect the network As we obtain into cars with complete strangers, sleep in the beds of people we’ve never met and lend money to others on the other side of the world, a powerful new currency is emerging — and it’s based on trust.

The future is the believe economy

Adriana Stan is the public relations director of west magazine and a writer on media, culture and technology.

How to connect the network

As we obtain into cars with complete strangers, sleep in the beds of people we’ve never met and lend money to others on the other side of the world, a powerful new currency is emerging — and it’s based on trust.

What’s striking about the shared economy isn't the technology that has made it possible, but the vast changes it's triggered in society. It's brought a renewed sense of community, engendered more collaboration, sparked new thinking and keep a premium on trust, tapping into a necessity that transcends boundaries and is still rife with opportunity.

If you’re not working to construct and demonstrate it, then the future might be about to leave you behind, as believe is quickly becoming the global — and most-valued — currency of modern time.

The “codification” of trust

Believe was once an expensive pursuit. Banks were built from luxurious materials in bold architectural forms, with sturdy marble pillars and adornments to allow the most powerful declarations of solidity, tradition and trustworthiness — and to project a sense of enduring history. “You can believe us — see how much money we can spend on our buildings!”

Trust, more than anything, came from being purposefully wasteful.

Likewise, expensive educations from Ivy League schools represented not just a level of intellect or achievement, but an aura of excellence one can deduce from investing in a trusted academic institution that came with a built-in reputation. It signified the social status and financial skill to spend more than required to be portion of an elite group, and, love a stamp of approval, projected specific qualities to potential employers.

And think about the hospitality industry. Historically, hotels found success through standardization — guaranteeing a level of consolation and quality below an umbrella brand or chain, frequently built on emblems of safety, believe and tradition.

This has all changed. Today, we're prepared to space our lives in the hands of people we know nothing about. We’ve taken our most visceral fear of the unknown and cast it aside in a matter of months.

What’s empowered this shift in values is the codification of reputation — it’s the five stars following to people’s names that create it possible to believe someone we otherwise know nothing about. And it’s transforming the way we live: From riding in an UberX to staying in an Airbnb; from buying or selling handmade products on Etsy to peer-to-peer loans; from hiring someone on Upwork or TaskRabbit to booking residence cleaners on Handy or renting a car on Turo.

Similarly, we’re seeing a codification of influence and status, the result of which is also trust. The recommendations you get on LinkedIn and the connections you share with a potential employer can define whether you obtain the job. And your Instagram presence — specifically, earning the “endorsement” of high-profile followers — determines your following date, if what you seek is a membership on Raya, a new dating app that prides itself on fostering an intimate community of celebrities and creative people.

Reputation is presently carried by a new system, which takes rather elusive notions of credibility, influence and status and turns them into measurable scores. It’s “digitizing” relationships and social connections, extracting cost and insights from our associations and both codifying and commodifying trust — signifying it and selling it.

Re-thinking branding around trust

PR, marketing and advertising campaigns have long looked to assert signs of quality, set up credibility and give buyers reasons to believe in them.

As consumers, we used to believe that a recognizable hotel brand should allow a grand visitor experience — otherwise, it wouldn’t have been able to construct its name.

In fact, in the pre-digital age, the advertising that helped construct brands was expensive, and that was key. Just as banks spent large money on marble columns, anything in TV commercials exuded an aura of quality, stemming from the feeling that advertising had a high production cost and air time was limited.

Compare that to today’s decentralized and fragmented media landscape, and we look the challenges for brands. What becomes of brand-driven believe when we read news stories that our friends love and share with us, purchase products because of reviews on Amazon and stay at hotels we discover tagged on Instagram?

The very notion of branding is rapidly changing.

For a start, it's less physical. That’s what allowed the rise of bitcoin — it isn’t tied to physical assets love the gold standard; it’s the collective beliefs and hopes of its owners that create it so. Similarly, anyone can construct an e-commerce site on Wix for $29, with an accompanying social feed that sells products below the guise of a carefully curated aspirational lifestyle.

The modern speech of believe is a slick user interface, a decent booking flow and impactful images; over all, it’s grand reviews, ratings and influence.

Will there be a single metric of trust?

Believe may soon be a product that consumers not only wish from the brands with which they interact, but demand to know about other people. It won’t just be about customers reviewing brands, but our own personas being attached to a score or reputation; people themselves will be “measured.”

Everything from our influence, social following, work connections, credit worthiness and beyond, could create up the metric of trust. This may finish up deciding who gets upgraded on a flight, who can purchase products from us or who gets priority customer service.

In this new world, our “trust score” will be the only metric that people necessity in order to create decisions on how to do business, and with whom. It effectively becomes the new credit score. For someone with VC funding, the opportunity in the following year to discover a single metric of believe is huge.

The question is what're you doing to actively construct believe with your customers? In a world where your brand is less what you declare and more the collective experiences of everyone using it, you can’t simply rely on marketing to meet the challenge for you in the future.

Featured Image: Nicoleta Raftu/Shutterstock

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