The Trust Circle

What is it?
Relationships that people have on the web can be described with concentric circles. The innermost represents the people we trust the most, our closest friends. When we start to move out from that close group of people, our trust starts to fade away until we reach the point in which we start to rely more on the opinions of ‘experts’ or more authoritative and recognized voices in that space.

Update based on comments: Existence of multiple groups of circles around each individual. Each one of these groups is dedicated to a specific niche (professional, personal life, etc.). Although certain contacts can be present on different groups, according to the niche we are looking at they can have a different level of influence/trust.

Why it’s important?
The understanding of the trust circle dynamics can offer great positioning advantages for brands, strategists and other communications practitioners. Understand where you are standing or where you should eventually be helps the listening process, the engagement, the acquisition, the support and the retention of your target audience.

Take this as a conversation starter. What would you add to it? What’s your take?

I’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments or via twitter @vascellari (remember to link to this post!).

Andrea

0 thoughts on “The Trust Circle”

  1. Is the friend of my friend a friend of mine? Or the enemy of my enemy my friend?

    If relationships are concentric circles, then in every circle there are people how each have their own “concentric relationship circles”. Friends who are in my closest circle – are their friends of their closest circle closer to me than those how are on my second circle?

    Let’s put it this way:

    First circle = dear friends = X1
    Second circle = friend = X2
    Third circle = “I know him” = X3… and so on

    I’m thinking about buying a new cellphone, the Nokia N99 (not really, but for the arguments sake). My dear friend (let’s call him Andrea-X1) has no opinion about the matter but _his_ dear friends (Andrea-X1-X1’s) says that N99 is a killer phone and that I should get one. But two of my friends (X2) tell me that it sucks and I should not buy one.

    I have absolutely no idea on the matter, I know nothing about the Nokia phones. What should I do? Trust my friends and not buy one or trust my dear friend’s dear friends (for whom I do not know personally) and get one?

    And the again, this thing is alive. You know, you have some dear friends from whom you would ask about things like cellphones, computers etc. Those people are in the first circle when it is about those things. And then there are those who do you trust when you are buying a new car or washing machine. They are not on the first circle when you are buying a new computer, but when you realize that your washing machine just broke down, they change places?

    Well, my 5 cents on this. Happy Labor Day for all!

    1. @Tommi: Really interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

      People’s circles can be interconnected and yes, when we look at specific needs we definitely have to think in terms of niches.
      Based on your contribution I would add to my initial post the existence of multiple groups of circles around each individual. Each one of these groups is dedicated to a specific niche (professional, personal life, etc.). Although certain contacts can be present on different groups, according to the niche we are looking at they can have a different level of influence/trust.

      In the case you mentioned, if non of my niche close friends can help me, I would take in consideration the feedback I can get from the close contacts of my friends, although I might not be directly related to them. Sources of information coming from close circles of my dearest friends can be trustworthy, then of course there are exceptions.

  2. Interesting startpoint… though oversimplified, in my opinion.

    I think that there must be some research on why we trust someone but, my feeling is that it is a complex matter. The closer someone is in my circles, the more I know them and thus, the more information to judge his/her opinion. Trust is not going to have a direct impact on your behaviour (i.e. buy/don’t buy a specific tie). To put it simple, I trust my father one of the most and, if he recommends me to buy a specific tie, the fact that I know him very well, will help me a lot:
    Decision: don’t buy
    Critical info: he is color-blind

    😉

    Keep it going, but realize that this is just on the surface…
    Thanks!

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