Control matters less, trust matters more: a new ecosystem in the making
Image by gleonhard via Flickr
I am continuously working on my new book "The End of Control", even though I have lately been wondering quite a bit about whether it still makes sense to publish a dead-tree version of a non-fiction epic these days - I may yet decide to remain entirely in the realm of bits and bytes. Stay tuned. Or better yet, tell me what you want!
In any case, a big part of "The End of Control" is about how, all around us, Control is declining in importance (as well as in feasibility!), and our emphasis is gradually shifting to Trust. Not to become too Obama-ish here but I have observed this trend pretty much in all sectors that I work in, from media & content to travel to telecom, and it is an amazing change. And a real challenge.
So, rather than trying to control what people do with a service or product they get from a company, many businesses are now starting to focus on earning, keeping and expanding the users' trust in what they do and how they do it, so that at the right time their users will indeed make the choice to pay them. Because that is pretty much what it comes down to, now: people make implicit (bundled) and explicit (i.e. voluntary) choices to pay for what we offer them. This is especially true for content, software, media and entertainment, of course - given that many of those goods are already digital and thereby payment can often be avoided if you so wish.
Examples for how trust is starting to replace control abound - here are a few:
- Twitter users make the choice to follow me (hey... don't ask me why), and now I have to constantly earn their attention with what I share on Twitter. If they like what I do, they will retweet my stuff (apparently the highest honor these days) or forward the links to other people via email or the various social media sharing tools. Yes, in case you were wondering, I have indeed been booked for speaking gigs via connections I made on Twitter (just like those that I make on this blog) - something that was a total miracle to me when it happened but now I am starting to get it. In any case, I'll be the first to advertise on Twitter when they offer it.
- Flickr: they offer a fantastic platform for sharing images (and now, video), and once people trust them, quite a few of them end up buying the Flickr Pro account for $30 or - in fact, being a Flickr Pro user has become a bit of a status symbol among 'sharers'. The bottom line: earn my trust and attention with the free stuff, and then ... allow me to pay for something else.
- Amazon's best-selling MP3 album in 2008 was 'Ghosts' by Nine Inch Nails, even though that very same album was made available under a creative commons license and free downloading by the band, itself - people made the choice to pay for something they could have had for free. Think again - compelling people to pay is starting to look like a real alternative to forcing them to pay (music industry readers, take note;)
- Google. Of course, Google is the Master of this new art of business; constantly adding value, wielding ever higher attraction and receiving copious amounts of attention - all of which converts nicely into people trusting Google, and subsequently giving Google their money; whether it's AdWords, Apps, storage space, search tools. Google is indeed the master of giving control to us, and then have us return the ultimate favor of trust. Loads of Attention which, you guessed it, turn into serious cash for them.
Thinking cap on. A quick illustration below, borrowing Wired's Tired or Wired fancyness.
More on this soon. Please comment below. And retweet. now. yes, you.