Marketers are aware that trust has been in decline in America for several years. Often the media is cited as a reason. People are more aware of the failings of industry, government, and role models in a highly mediated 24/7 news cycle. However, others argue trust has eroded due to the decline of values, the rise of technologies like TV which reduces communal time for independent leisure time activities. Trust of course is the bedrock of any functional society. We need trust in our community to feel safe, to feel like we belong, to thrive. Enter social media technologies that enable reputation and trust to become social currency upon which recommendations can be made.
At SXSWi 2011, Shareable.net and Latitude Research presented a first-ever study on the New Economy of Sharing along with panelists from Itizen, Zimride and Rentalic. The surprising findings show that people who share online in social media are MORE likely to share offline. “Collaborative Consumption” is the business model for companies like Netflix and Zipcar, and it has several benefits. Sharing goods and services makes people feel like they are “doing good for their society” and “saving money (time and effort).”
There are many implications for marketers and companies who are looking to build trust in their products or to gain advocates for their issues.
1. If sharing online is a good predictor of offline sharing, then getting people to share their opinions about your product in social media could lead to new types of engagement or advocacy offline around your product. Is your product shareable? On- and offline?
2. If the “we + me” equation is a sweetspot of benefits to consumers, then are your products or issues properly positioned?
3. If it’s easier to share based on trust, then the power of a recommendation must be part of your business planning. Reputation is now currency.
4. In a sharing economy, marketers must consider more closely if their products should be disposable or reusable, and if they can’t make them reusable then how to make the benefits worth sharing more broadly.
5. When consumers don’t “own” and “share” instead, ratings, reviews, testimonials will have even more importance in the decision funnel. Reputation will be a bigger filter.
To download the study, go to www.shareable.net