Thursday, December 14, 2006

Social consumption: A rapid and sticky way to close the trust gap is a 2.0 browser download that enables 'social annotation'.

They say: Highlight, Clip and Sticky-Note for any webpage
just as you would on paper --> write on any webpage!
make them private or public --> interact on any webpage!
Share your online findings with your friends and colleagues
complete with highlights and sticky notes
as lists, as blogs, as albums, as feeds, or via email.

I can see this proving very useful as a tool in beta testing of sites (see example, here)

But it's also worth considering as a social consumer tool, hard on the heels of offertrax et al.

And it set me thinking: There are many social consumer sites cropping up now.
How disruptive to traditional BUYNOW classified models do you think they are likely to be?

These social consumer sites offer a new and fast way to close the trust gap - ie "you might have the right price, mate - but I've never heard of you. Why should I give you my money?"

The notion of customer loyalty to any particular vendor brands has pretty much been crushed by the internet.

It's essentially because vendor brands (shops and online retailers) have way less influence over us than the communities we want to share our thoughts and lives with.

Now we follow the price - the brand of the product itself is where the value resides for us - provided the vendor has a certain level of trust about them.

There are some exceptions - and they are perhaps those brands which work hardest to engage (think Amazon's onsite CRM) but ultimately that loyalty to vendor brand only makes you choose that particular brand as one of your preferred places to search/visit (a definite advantage even in a 2.0 world, it has to be said).

Vendor brands which make themselves useful to us - and which we can trust - still gain an edge.

But the trust gap can be closed much more rapidly by new vendors than ever before. And that means it just got easier to launch against No1 in any market.

If members of your community have shared with you that this new vendor is indeed all he's cracked up to be, then the vast majority of buyers are likely to be swayed.

It's always been possible to read user reviews of their experiences with a particular vendor of course - on their own forums etc. But can you trust them?

So you could go trawling the internet on the off chance that someone else has posted about them on some other consumer forum somewhere (though many wouldn't bother, they'll just tootle off to a brand they already have some trust in). And why trust those posters? They aren't part of your particular community (in most cases).

What diigo does is make the thoughts of other members of your community apparent at the moment you view the offer from the vendor (new or old) on any site.

You get instant advice from the community you do trust.

Great news for new vendors. Great news for consumers - because if the new boy gets it wrong everyone (from that community) who visits his site will see the message.

All they need is critical mass.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?