Collaborative Consumerism

11 01 2013


Rachel Botsman is on to something. According to her website, she’s “a social innovator who writes, consults and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies.” Last June she did a TED talk that centers on the fact that our personal online presence can create a measurable trust coefficient and that “trust” will be, and is becoming, the new currency. Like how our credit score defines who we are in ways we might have ever imagined, our online reputation will become the filter that will be used to determine what jobs we will have, or how much money we can make; who we will marry and what town we will live in. Have you ever considered that your credit score had so much to do with those things? Our current economic structure is such a part of our DNA that it’s often dismissed as playing a role in our life choices at all.

What Botsman so clearly communicates is that in the new world where network technologies drives consumerism, those who can navigate to a point where their reputations are always trending up will always have the upper hand. In the very near future and in many marketplaces today, knowing and understanding how to manage your online reputation will become as important as knowing how to improve your credit score is to us today.

Those of you who have purchased products on Ebay or Etsy know that checking the sellers reviews is “Step 1” before you buy anything from them. I personally have been bitten by the shopping cart bug and upon reading the reviews AFTER the product I ordered didn’t show up for weeks, kicked myself for rushing past Step 1.

The advance of Social Media has so much to do with our online presence. There are even barometers like Klout that can tell us the depth of our influence within specific platforms. And while these “platforms” have been seen in the past as not much more that messaging centers or virtual chat rooms. The reality is that these systems are now already how people connect deeply with each other.

I’ve written before on how we all have a Trust Bank. I talk to my boys about it all the time. We deposit trust into our bank when we do things that are expected of us… When we tell the truth in a difficult peer pressure moment… When we go beyond what was expected. Trust is also withdrawn from our bank when we are caught in a lie, or when we don’t complete the task we were assigned or when we break a promise. Trust goes in and trust goes out. The more trust that sits in our bank, the more trust we are given. Interest is even earned on trust that stays in the bank.

Botsman’s point is no different than this. Though her’s goes beyond the simple analogy. As the world moves towards a more collaborative, Social Media enhanced, network technology fueled culture, our reputations will matter even more and be viewed by pretty much everyone that wants access to it.

Collaborative Consumerism is real. Trust is the currency. Your reputation is what will determine how well you are doing. Big businesses, organizations and even non-profits like churches should take heed because even though Botsman’s discussion involves mainly peer to peer markets, the implications are far reaching. As 2013 kicks off, learning how to manage your online presence should be high on the to do list… for each of us personally AND the organizations of which we are a part.

Watch Rachel Botsman’s TED Talk video here:

Additional resource: Unique by Phil Cooke



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