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Marketing through Trust Agents

GraphIt’s almost becoming cliché to reference Zappos now days as the pinnacle leader of customer service, but what about as a source of “trust agents?” The rise of Social Media has amplified the voice of the customer so that WOM now is the tool of choice for the customer brand ambassadors.

I asked my girlfriend the other day, “Doesn’t it bother you to buy shoes online without trying them on?” Her explanation put complete faith in the comments with each product. “I usually read what the other customers say about the product. I find that a lot of people have the same problems with wide shoes that I do… I relate to them and I trust them.” This is an amazing thing if you think about it. So why are we all of the sudden trusting complete strangers opinions on products, and then acting upon it?

One of the reasons is that Social Media has brought us closer together tearing down geographical barriers, and given a boost to what it means to be “human.” People don’t want to talk to logos; they want to talk to people. We trust the message when it comes from a human, or when we believe that a human was behind the message. So then the simple follow-up question to that is how do we decipher when the message comes from a human? Much of this can be taken from the style of writing. The birth of comments and blogs has allowed consumers to write in their own voice; whether it is positive or negative.

This idea of “trust agents” has gotten to be so large that entire business platforms have been built around it…enter Yelp. When I go out to eat, the first application I open on my Android phone is Yelp. I then go right to the comments. Who liked it? Why did they like it? Would I like it for the same reasons? Reading through these comments builds trust because we are hearing from the true “experts.” What is an expert? It’s someone who’s “been there and done that.” It’s not a pitch from a PR person, or a sub- contextual message from a marketing, it’s Person A, who either liked or disliked what Company B did, and why. This is the framework of conversation that is build around human opinions driving Social Media, and increasing the intelligence of the everyday consumers.

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