I am always on the lookout for ways to connect meaningfully with others, and the new online world makes that both easier and more challenging: 1) Easier because social media tools enable me to connect with hundreds of people in a fraction of the time it would take offline; 2) More challenging because it’s harder to know much about someone you haven’t met, especially when you want to know whether they can be trusted with your money or your reputation.
You’re undoubtedly familiar with the goal of having potential clients know, like, and trust you. As in offline communities, you build a solid reputation by being friendly, generous, helpful, and reliable. You consistently provide value, and you do what you say you’re going to do (when you say you’re going to do it).
You’ve established a track record with those clients or associates who have known you awhile, but is there a way to shorten that process?
I’ve just discovered a service trying to do just that: TrustCloud. It is relatively new, and I learned about it from Michael Martine, Remarkablogger. Much like a FICO score for credit-worthiness or an eBay score for seller reliability, TrustCloud aims to create a similar score that carries substance and meaning in what the company calls the “Sharing Economy.”
What is the Sharing Economy?
“Sharing Economy” was derived from “Collaborative Consumption,” a concept coined by Rachel Botsman, writing in 2011 for Wired magazine. It consists of “an economic model based on sharing, swapping, bartering, trading or renting access to products as opposed to ownership.” Businesses based on this concept include apartment, car, and house-swapping operations and more.
Most online businesses require a similar kind of trust. When you buy a used book from one of Amazon’s resellers or a product from eBay, you rely on the seller’s reputation and track record for describing their products accurately and shipping in a timely manner.
What can TrustCloud do for you?
Whether you are an author promoting your books, an artist or craftsperson selling your work, or a consultant selling your services, you can benefit from giving potential customers a reliable measure of your past track record and what others have learned about you from their personal experience.
In its own words, “TrustCloud helps you leverage the good behavior you’ve earned in [the] Sharing Economy—and gauge the trustworthiness of others in your sharing community.” Instead of a potential client having to visit several social media platforms to put get a feeling for your trustworthiness, TrustCloud pulls the data from those platforms and, using a proprietary algorithm, creates a portable representation of all the data in the form of a TrustCard and score.
I was intrigued and decided to try it. You can see my TrustCard reflecting my TrustScore in the sidebar of my blogs at RiverwoodWriter.com and Heartspoken.com. On a scale of 1 to 1,000, my first score of 752 was considered “Good.” That’s better than Average but not yet Very Good or Excellent. I hope it will go up once TrustCloud has verified my mailing address.
Will TrustCloud become a meaningful measure of trustworthiness?
Two things will have a lot to do with the future influence of TrustCloud.
- One will be how effective it is in its ability to integrate more social networking platforms where activities are based on integrity and truthfulness. Right now, the main social media platforms are included, plus eBay, TripAdvisor, Klout, Xeeme, and StackOverflow. Others such as Quora, Ask.com, Yelp, and Yahoo Answers are “coming soon.”
- The second will be whether TrustCloud members use discretion when they endorse others. If it is used only to swap votes, it will dilute the significance. TrustCloud is attempting to control this by limiting the points you get for endorsing others.
I recommend you take a look at TrustCloud even if you decide not to display the TrustCard. Besides being a feather in your cap, it will help you understand more about how an online reputation is made.
NOTE: In keeping with Karen’s “New Stuff” theme on her blog this week, you might find further inspiration for trying new things in my recent article published in our local paper Northern Virginia Daily “Never be afraid to try something new.”
Elizabeth H. Cottrell, a.k.a. RiverwoodWriter, conceals her analytical side by artistically blogging at RiverwoodWriter.com for small business owners and solopreneurs. Turbo-charge your ability to connect, create, and communicate with prospects and clients. Elizabeth can craft your compelling content, help you get that book out of your head and published at last, or teach you how to use social media sensibly and effectively. Stop struggling and call to see if she can help!