Fresh from Battle of Big thinking’s debate on trust, former Publicis chief strategy officer Kate Smither and founder of strategic consultancy The Tall Planner Kate Smither discusses how fake news has done brands a favour when it comes to trust…
It never seemed probable that humanity would be given a gift by a Trumpism, but by coining the phrase of fake news he has accidentally educated the world on trust. Not sure that educating the world was the intention, fear and panic was probably more the aim. But the fact is that the repeated accusations of fake news has created a more educated, smarter and more informed kind of trust.
Fake news has trained our trust instincts and honed our skills. Fake news has rocketed humanity into the golden age of trust- where it has really come into its own and is now driving not just behaviour but the economy at the same time
In tracking the evolution of trust as a key element of human existence, Rachel Botsman identifies that trust has gone through three key phases – from local to institutional and now to distributed. She considers how this evolution of the trust paradigm has loosely followed the evolution of society and the economy. In a post-Royal Commission world, no Australian can argue that trust has changed in recent times. That the deferring of trust to an institution has eroded.
People speak about a “trust gap” or a trust deficit” what they don’t say is that any of the discoveries by the Royal Commission or the data scandals of companies like Cambridge Analytica have destroyed trust. That is largely because people are now more invested in trust than ever before. That’s why trust has reasserted itself as an action, as an investment as the equivalent of money. Entrepreneurialism s thriving because of trust and how it is now defining itself. They are thriving because of the golden age of trust. The moment in time when trust is not just distributed but it is mutual, it is intelligent, collaborative and smart. Blind trust is gone but Smart trust has replaced it with gusto.
Smart trust is the mark of trust’s golden age. As a human race, we are more informed, more intuitive, more exposed to news than ever before. That is making us hone our trust instructs. As a population, the tendency is to mistrust or to expect to be let down. That’s why gestures don’t make us automatically trust but they make us reconsider. Trust is not something brands have to lose. It is something that they need to prove that they are worthy of.
Growing up, trust used to be something you inherited, you listened to the warnings of parents and guardians and you followed their rules But, as the world changes at an unprecedented rate of change there are no rules set in stone anymore. There is no hard and fast delineation between what you can trust and what you can’t. As a result, we are learning to navigate trust to not take it for granted and to not blindly follow it. We are peppering rust with cynicism and approaching everything differently.
Trust today is smart. It is informed, it is reflecting the fact that everything today is inundated with the ability to question and to learn. Trust is now not just collaborative as it feeds the economy with new businesses, but the consumer side of the transaction is about smart trust. It is not just that individuals are in it when it comes to business, but it is that mutuality is what feeds the economy. That means that the power of trust is not in the bricks and mortar anymore, it is where the informed consumer decides to place it. It is where the values and acts that they expect from brands live up to their expectations are, it is where they are comfortable to enter into an exchange around it. Where trust is smart and useful and where everyone is invested in it.
As the hyperbole of fake news grows, it is actually helping trust not destroying it. It is building an unprecedented resilience within it. So, thank you fake news for educating us about trust and homing our instincts. You are showing us that blind trust might be gone but that that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.