Social Media and Simplicity, Part 8: Trust
Muhammad Saleem is a social media consultant and a top-ranked community member on multiple social news sites.
This post is part 8 of 10 in our groundbreaking series on how freelancers can use social media and the principles of simplicity to build their businesses.
Day 8 – The Eighth Law of Simplicity: Trust
In simplicity we trust.
Trust is one of the most important elements of any relationship. Whether it be the relationship between a writer and her audience, a consultant and his client, or an individual and his fellow community members, without trust, the system screeches to a halt.
Trust and You
Before you can do anything worthwhile, you have to learn to trust yourself. Only once you trust yourself will you be able to trust your peers and trust the system, and if you don’t trust yourself, others are even less likely to do so. Every time you start a blog, someone has already started one better, when you start a business, there are a dozen more people trying to do the same (and with the backing of venture capital), and every time you go to participate on a socially driven site, there are dozens of “top users” who are dominating the conversation. But this shouldn’t be discouraging, not as long as you trust yourself and your abilities that given time, you can rise to the top and be a part of the so-called “A-list” crowd.
If you trust yourself, you make your life simpler by not wasting time worrying about everyone else and can actually achieve your dreams.
Trust and the System
The web makes it very easy to pretend to be someone that you’re not, or take credit for something you haven’t done, or only half-deliver on your promises. In fact, people do it every day and get away with it. Just yesterday, I reported a site to firstname.lastname@example.org because the administrator of the site was stealing content from other sites, publishing it on his own site, and then pushing his site to the front page of Digg (and building traffic and links in the process). I reported that person because he wasn’t simply getting the traffic, links, and advertising revenue, he was stealing it from the people who had actually researched and created the content.
Because it is so easy to do this, a substantial number of people use this technique to get ahead. It is not only infuriating for the victim, but it is also discouraging for others who are already putting in the extra hours but are not as successful, or for people who want to enter a space but feel that hard work won’t necessary be rewarded. In cases like these, it is important to place your trust in the system and believe that in the long term, the system will recognize those that are unfairly manipulating it, and that these people will be punished while those who work hard will be rewarded.
While it is possible to make a few bucks by taking shortcuts in the short-term, the best thing you can do to succeed in the long-run is to work hard and when you come across someone who isn’t playing fair, report that person to the system.
If you trust the system, you make your life simpler by knowing that the cheaters will get caught and the long-run will reward you for your hard work.
Trust and the Community
There are two ways to approach any community. First, you can join, questioning the established netiquette or completely disregarding it. Second, because you start participating, you can make yourself aware of the prevailing etiquette of the community. While blindly trusting that a community works is relatively easy (we do it every day), it is much harder to trust individual users. In the end, trust is a two way street. It is just as important that you are able to trust other users as it is for those users to trust you.
There have been hundreds if not thousands of articles written about how to succeed in various capacities. Whether it be the broad goal of making money online, or something more focused like becoming a professional blogger or a top-ranked community member in a socially driven community, it all comes down to trust.
I will hire you as a consultant if I trust you when you say that you can improve my business and if I trust that you will not overcharge me for your services.
I will subscribe to your blog if I trust you when you make the promise of delivering good and unique content to me every day and will provide a better value proposition than the hundreds of bloggers competing with you in your niche.
I will follow your Twitterstream, befriend you on Facebook, keep track of your submissions on Digg, if I can trust that you are a genuine participant in the social media sphere and aren’t merely there to exploit it for yourself.
If you can learn to trust the community, you can make your life simpler by appreciating that trust is a two way street and that it will take time before you can prove yourself and the community can begin to trust you.
For simplifying the rest of your life, check out John Maeda’s Blog.