In trust we trust: keeping it human…

Image: Don't feed the humans (Brighton graffitti)
Image: Don't feed the humans (Brighton graffitti)

Took some time to read some more of What Would Google Do? today and was stopped in my tracks by some of Jeff Jarvis’s thoughts on trust, a topic which has been much on my mind in recent weeks.

Trust is more of a two-way exchange than most people – especially those in power – realise. Leaders in government, news media, corporations, and universities think they and their institutions can own trust when, of course, trust is given to them. Trust is earned with difficulty and lost with ease. When those instituions treat consituents like masses of fools, children, miscreants, or prisoners – when they simply don’t listen – it’s unlikely they will engende warm feelings of mutual respect. Trust is an act of opening up; it’s a mutual relationship of transparency and sharing. The more ways you will build trust, which is your brand.

Trust makes up much of that thing we call reputation. And when hard times come, whether you’re a brand or an individual inside or outside an organisation, it is time to test your trust.

What have you earned? What have you won and stored away for when you need to make that ask, find that opportunity, seal that deal. You never really know how much you have or where it lies – it’s outside of your awareness and your control, out there in your networks, your tribe.

It also strikes me, yet again, that the rules, the emerging successful patterns of behaviour online, are very much the same for individuals as for brands.

It’s those parallels, the elevation, the restoration, of human social rules to what makes for successful politics, commerce, culture, that make me feel it’s OK to talk about “the social web” as being more than just about social computing tools.

I’m going to write about this a lot more soon, in a book. It’s not going to be going down the “personal branding” route – helpful as that is to some people. I’ll be avoiding the b-word applied to individuals, because for me brand carries too many connotations of control and design, and that’s even less helpful and appropriate for individuals that is for big corporate brands themselves.

Anyway, more later on that…