I like to think that trust is one of the key things of building a passionate community. You can do a whole lot of things with scale – like Facebook – but then the question is how passionate you think customers will be about your product and the people they interact with.

Trust is your customer’s feeling that they and their stuff are safe on a platform, trusting that you don’t screw them over, abuse their data, or handle it inappropriately (like with the Path-controversy). Luckily, major screwups don’t happen a whole lot, but like many things, it’s the small things that matter. Trust can be like a leaky bucket, at one point it might be empty and your customer might leave, forever.

I’m not talking about human errors here. I’m talking about deliberate decisions:

every time

  • …you put a full-page ad in front of a user’s destination
  • …you automatically/by default opt a customer in for something
  • …you change something behind their backs
  • …you make them feel out of control
  • …users feel like they’re being tricked

… you lose a bit of trust.

Suddenly your customer might think: “oh, I guess they’re just like those other sites that try to screw me over”.

You might have very good reasons for doing one of the above things, it might be a common practice1, or the effect of it is beneficial (it might draw more customers). The question is: What is this trust worth to me/my company? Is it worth the benefits of implementing some of these techniques?

  1. It might even be that the implementation or result is something that is praised by peers in your field/discipline, or that it’s “fun” to implement.