Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

The Evolution of A New Trust Economy

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Social Media is rooted in relationships, the dynamic interaction and collaboration between real people. We learned and continue to learn how to communicate in public forums, evolving our personal views on privacy and uncertainty as we transform from digital introverts to social extroverts.

This is our industrial revolution and its reward for participation is relevance. The socialization of online societies democratized the publishing industry and equalized influence.

The Social Economy

Socialnomics is the study of what I refer to as the social economy. The truth is however, that the true method for studying the exchange, growth, depreciation, and path of social capital is a more human form of social sciences, those that embrace the methodologies and tenets of psychology, anthropology, and sociology.

As the social economy swells and continues to flourish, many of us are abandoning the forums and systems where businesses held the illusion of control in favor of communities where we dictate the level of value we give and take. Accordingly, brands are turning in our direction. We are, after all, the keepers of social capital and with it, we make valuable decisions and also impact and influence the decisions of others. We’re now joining and creating our own communities online where we create, shape, and steer attention democracies.

Individually, we’re realizing the power and potential of social media. Collectively, we’re changing how we learn, interact, discover, and share.

The rise of Social Media resembled a global celebration of freedom and empowerment.  In many ways, this was a Summer of Love and Twitter was our Woodstock.  Every genre creates a movement. The 80’s championed the free market economy. The 90’s gave birth to the Internet revolution. The 2000’s engendered a more social Web.  We carry the spirit forward as we seek incremental milestones that deliver meaning and rewards, evolution is perpetually imminent.

What’s next?

In order for a value cycle to maintain relevance and usefulness, it must perennially pull innovation and insight from the edge and bring it to the center.  The time to close the chapter on our Summer of Love nears, but we will forever hold it sacred. The edge is already coming into focus.

The Attention Economy

Attention is indeed a precious commodity. Perhaps more scarce than we may realize or care to admit. It is why we are migrating towards the employment of attention dashboards to help funnel the content we attempt to follow. Essentially, attention dashboards are any one of the three screens (mobile device, PC, TV) within the Golden Triangle (mobile, social, real-time) and is usually experienced as an activity stream, TweetDeck, the Facebook Newsfeed, FriendFeed, any feed reader, etc. The attention dashboard is where we focus and it is how we keep our finger on the pulse of the social web – the conversations and connections that ultimately represent the human algorithm.

To have any hope of connecting with discerning consumers in the social web, we have to gain visibility and momentum across individual attention dashboards, where, when, and how they’re tuned.

To do so, the marketing infrastructure and methodology must shift from a broadcast framework to one of informed engagement and interaction without compromise or skepticism – all the while placing functional and meaningful forms of metrics and analysis. Identifying, understanding, and compelling new influencers requires an ongoing investment in listening, analysis, and cooperation.

It is this practice that lays a promising foundation for implementing a social CRM (sCRM) or Social Relationship Management (SRM) infrastructure supported by established workflow, processes, and governance.

Attention, however, is only thinning. To help, the social Web is on the verge of realizing the potential and corresponding benefits of real-time filtering technology. Gaining presence on attention dashboards will test the creativity, perseverance, and quality of those who choose to willingly participate.

As we traverse the dynamic landscapes defining the social and attention economies, we realize that something much more powerful is required to earn ongoing attention in the social web. One of the primary principles and virtues of earning attention over time is to establish connections and interactions rooted in trust or the constant acts of earning it.

Individualized engagement that attempts to deliver value contributes to the kindling of trust.

The New Trust Economy

I am me, but I already know that. Who are you, why should I care, and who am I (to you)?

Social Media is ours and it’s up to us to determine who we let into our social graph. We are the gatekeepers for our attention and in order to earn our awareness, you’re going to need to know a bit more about me than my age group, gender, level of education, marital status, and household income. More importantly, you’re going to have to dig a bit deeper than the keywords I may use in online conversations.

It’s the difference between demographics and psychographics. It’s the difference between listening and monitoring.

The social economy now gives way to something much more substantial. The next stage in the evolution of new media is the trust economy. Whereas conversations served as the currency of social media, conviction credence, and value serve as the market for trust economics.

While brands weigh the scalability and ROI of investing in relationships, as a consumer, I can assure you, a reasonable attempt at fostering relations is a noble and respectable endeavor.

We’re no longer limiting relationships to friends, family and associates. As our comfort and interaction increase in social networks, the relationships we forge within each reflect our interests and aspirations.

The curated micro networks we forge within each respective social network serves as a trusted community. Those who can participate or permeate these trust communities must first earn the prominence of what Chris Brogan and Julien Smith call Trust Agents – those individuals who are deserving of your time and attention as demonstrated through their actions and words.

It is these concentrated communities that ultimately form the premise for a much larger and more meaningful human network – a collection of trust networks that represent the market and exchanges for your focus, investment, participation and ultimately your actions.

With time, our contribution to the state of the social, attention, and trust economies is measured by reciprocity, recognition, value, and benefaction.

Trust is earned and its stature is representative of our collaboration and contribution over time. If the Social Web is an ocean, trust funnels into distinctive and distinguishable rivers.

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93 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The Evolution of A New Trust Economy”

  1. Jon Ingham says:

    Great post.

    I've just included it in the January 2010 Carnival of Trust at:

  2. cgreen23 says:


    Let me add my congratulations to Jon Ingham's for this post's inclusion in January's Carnival of Trust; it's very well-deserved.

    I echo your stress on issues like the personal vs. the statistical–the emergence of deeper relationships, despite their paradoxical appearance in supposedly “impersonal” media channels. With people like yourself and Brogan/Smith, I think we stand a good chance of moving this powerful force in a very positive direction. Themes like collaboration, transparency, trust, other-orientation and intimacy are all part of an interesting mix.

    You didn't just touch these themes, you got your hands all over them.

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