A Standard of Reputation is Coming

Photo cred: "h.koppdelaney"

Today, we are experiencing a revolution in human interaction.

The “online” world has come full circle, with more and more websites and apps focused on reconnecting people with the real world around them, and the people in it.

It’s amazing how technology is making it possible for us to connect with people again.  I’m not talking about connecting with usernames and avatars.  I mean real people, with real names in real places.

With the growth of “collaborative consumption” sites and applications like Airbnb, Ebay, Zimride, Sittercity, Snapgoods, ThredUp, Zipcar, Zaarly and the list goes on, people are connecting with each other in a whole new way.  Complete strangers are turned into trusted neighbors.

But why are they trusted?  Solely because they use the same site as you?  Clearly, that’s not enough.  Trust and reputation have to be build into these products.  Users have to earn their trust.  They have to build credibility.  We want these platforms to be safe.

At Zaarly, we’re focused on building what we call a “well-lit” marketplace.  A community where you can clearly see everything that’s going on, who’s around you and feel totally comfortable.

The part that sucks is that every time you join a new site, you have to rebuild trust.  It never carries over.

There’s a huge opportunity for someone to build a solution here…

Now understandably, some aspects of a user’s reputation will be specific to that community.  But usually, there are aspects of reputation on one site that could apply to another site.

There are two different kinds of reputation that are important in online marketplaces:

  1. Earned: Providing a positive experience for other users.  Do you ship on time as a seller?  Do you pay on time as a buyer?  Are the items or services you provide “as described”?
  2. Existing: Who are you?  What do your friends have to say about you?  Do you have a criminal history?

Earned reputation isn’t always applicable in multiple marketplaces, but there’s definitely a case for it.  If someone has a 99% positive rating after 12,000 transactions on eBay, and the majority of their written reviews are positive, wouldn’t that be relevant to me if I’m considering staying at their place through airbnb?

For existing reputation, there are many applications that can be used on multiple platforms:

  • Verification: Verifying your social accounts, email, phone number, etc.
  • Referrals: If someone vouches that you’re trustworthy on one site, you should be able to display that on other sites.
  • Background checks:  Some sites require them.  Some of them offer them as an option.  Usually, the user has to pay for them.  So if someone gets a background check for one site, should they not be able to use it for another?

So then the question is, will there soon be a “standard of reputation” on the web?  I guarantee you there will be.  It’s just a question of who’s going to build it.  Will it be a third party solution?  Or will one company build something in house, make it available via an API, and create the standard or reputation.

Here are just a few of the companies working towards some form of standard for reputation on the web:

And then of course, all of the marketplaces I listed above could potentially create the standard for reputation themselves by making their in house system available to other marketplaces.
Who’s going to succeed in creating a widely accepted standard of trust online?


How Zaarly Could Change the World…Are You Ready?

Have you heard about Zaarly yet?

Zaarly could be a world changing platform. It could alter marketplaces the same way ebay or craigslist did in their time.

The product is extremely simple, but the implications could be vast.

Here’s how it works:

You can use it on the web or on your mobile device.

Step 1: What do you want?

Step 2: How much are you willing to pay for it?

Step 3: How soon do you need it?

And boom…you Zaarly it, and someone fulfills it for you.

Here are a couple simple examples:

  1. You want someone to bring you a coffee in the next 30 minutes. You can zaarly it, and someone (anyone) will bring it to you.
  2. You’re in a new city for a day and you want to get a tour.  You post to zaarly that you’ll pay $100 for someone to show you around the city for the day, and someone will do it.

Those are really really simple examples, but when anyone can buy anything they want, the opportunities are endless.

Give it some serious thought, and I’m sure you can pick up on the major implications this kind of platform could have, if it works.

Here are a few of the big ones:

1. It creates new services and industries

The supply and demand system concept has always been flawed.  Dan Ariely talks a bit in Predictably Irrational about the way people value things, and how irrational our natural gauge of “value” actually is.  The power has always been in the supply…the seller.

There’s a lot of demand that exists that we don’t know about.  Supply is only created if someone identifies the demand and builds a solution for it.  When anyone can simply ask for things that they want, we can see the true demand that exists.

Now, there’s a place where anyone can say what they want and exactly how much they’d like to pay for it.

I couldn’t get my computer monitor delivered from Soho to the Javitz center before, because that service just didn’t exist.  Last week, because of Zaarly, someone brought me my monitor for $25. Something that didn’t exist before, suddenly exists, because I wanted it.

What if my simple Zaarly posting started a whole new industry?  Why shouldn’t there be a service that simply picks things up for you, and brings them to wherever you want it?  Zaarly can create one off transactions, and it can also create entire new companies or industries.

Think about what other services could exist if we just knew what everyone wanted at any given time.

2. It can help the unemployed

So you lost your job.  Now what?  You should start looking for a new full time job, and either apply for unemployment, or pick up some shitty part time job to pay the bills.

Now, you can go onto Zaarly and find random jobs.  Maybe someone needs their dog walked.  You offer to do it through zaarly, complete the task, make some money and do a good job.  Maybe they ask you to do it again in the future and now you have a steady source of income for a while.

Say you’re short on the rent by a couple hundred bucks.  What do you do?  You can’t pick up a job on the spot and get a paycheck in time to pay the rent.  On the spot, you can pick up some random tasks through Zaarly, make some quick cash and get the rent together in time.

3. It can change the charity model

Zaarly is already doing this.  Check out what they’re doing to help those affected by the storms in Joplin.

Usually, when you donate to something, you have no idea where that money is going.

Now you don’t have to go through a charity to help someone.  You can use Zaarly to put money toward something specific, and have someone onsite fulfill it.

Will it work?

That’s the big question. The challenges are enormous. This isn’t the first time that something like this has been attempted.

It doesn’t matter if everyone in the world is posting something that they want, people ready to fulfill those tasks have to be there too.

There will also undoubtedly be a number of wrong ways to use Zaarly (drugs, sex, you know… the usual) that could cause a lot of issues, and in the worst case people would need to get a drug intervention to get out of it. There’s been a big change in peoples’ attitudes about using marijuana, and it’s a change that may affect parents all over America. One recent poll discovered that 46 percent of Americans support legalizing small amounts for personal use. That’s more than twice the percentage the pollsters found 12 years ago when they last asked the same question. By early 2009, 13 states had legalized marijuana sales to people with doctors’ prescriptions, and the U.S. Justice Department recently announced that it would no longer conduct raids on distributors of medical marijuana in those states.It’s been said that fighting drug use is a three-legged stool: prevention programs to caution kids about experimenting with drugs; law enforcement programs to stop the sale of drugs; and treatment programs to help those who fall through the cracks. According to the rehab at https://www.discoverynj.org/sober-living-facilities-and-how-they-work/, if drug enforcement laws are repealed, that will leave it up to prevention and treatment. And when it comes to drug use, there’s an old saying that is true in so many areas of life: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I do know that the team has thought about these issues thoroughly, and will continue to do so as the userbase grows.

I think if anyone can do it though, the current team at Zaarly can.  I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a number of them personally and with Bo Fishback at the helm, they have a good shot at it.

It also feels like the right time.  The platforms that tried this before were too early.  The level of trust and connectivity required for something like this to work just didn’t exist yet.

I didn’t write this post because they’re my friends though. My friends start new companies all the time.  I wrote it because I think if Zaarly does work, it could change the world for the better on a huge level.  Any time I hear about a company like that, I want to tell every damn person I know about it.

So… what will you Zaarly first?

Are you Lowering your Networking Standards?

Photo cred: Coal Miki

At what point do you consider someone a trusted connection?

Is it after a tweet or two?

Is it after an email?

Is it after a skype chat?

Do you have to meet in person first?

How many times?

Let me phrase it another way.  What does it take for you to trust someone enough to recommend them to others as a professional?

I see social media tools constantly launching with new ways to help people connect with each other.  But as it becomes easier to connect with someone, it seems like we lower our standards for what qualifies as a “trusted connection”, or even as a friend.

What social media allows us to do is create these passive relationships, or “weak ties“.  People have always created weak ties with others, but with social media it becomes possible to do it on a much larger scale.

Now we’re (the social media bubble) even doing it in person.  There’s something that always bugged me about bump and hashable type apps.

Instead of really talking to a person and taking the time to get to know them when you first meet, you can just do a quick info swap on hashable.  It’s this “I’ll get to know her later” mentality.  It weakens our relationships.

The guys at addieu have built something better, because it actually connects the accounts.  It’s more permanent so the exchange actually means something.

Information about a person doesn’t create a relationship, interactions do.

Have you been making real connections with people?  Or are you just bookmarking as many people as possible for later?

How to Use Quora as a Marketing Tool

Photo cred: Mixy Lorenz

I’m a QO expert.  Not sure what that means?  What a noob.  It stands for Quora Optimization. Get with the times slacker.

Seriously though, I’ve been using Quora for just about a year now.  It has only been getting more and more valuable since I signed up with more content constantly flowing in. This tool is applicable for enterprise, agencies and small businesses.

I’ve thought about writing this post for a while. Seeing as how it seems everyone and their mother has signed up for Quora in the past few days, I guess this is a good time.

Here’s how you can use Quora for marketing:

1. Establishing Yourself as an Expert

The obvious method is the same one that we’ve been doing with Linkedin Answers, and the same one that you can do on the new Facebook questions.  Establish yourself as an expert in the field, and drive leads, by answering questions efficiently.

Step 1: Sign up and set up your “bio” for each topic.

This is one thing that is pretty awesome about quora.  You can set different bios for each topic that you follow.

So when I answer a question in the blogging category I can include a link to Scribnia in the bio.  For blogger outreach I’ll include BlogDash. For questions related to young professionals, I’ll include u30pro.

Step 2: Search for questions in your market.

I searched for Blogger Outreach, and found a few good questions.  Quora is a bit more “tech” focused so far, but seems to be expanding into other categories pretty quickly.

If a question doesn’t exist, you can always ask it anonymously.

Step 3: Answer the question.

Here’s the hard part.  Mostly because you have to actually know what you’re talking about.

Answer thoroughly.  A half-assed answer will never bubble to the top.

I answered a Quora question about blogger outreach.

Step 4: Share your answer.

You’re given the option to share your answer on social networks.  This is important, because you need people to vote up your answer in order for it to rise to the top.

Or you could count on your awesome answer to rise to the top organically…but who cares for that nonsense? <–sarcasm

2. Lead Generation

On Quora, you can also see how many people have viewed the question.  More importantly, it shows you who, specifically, is following the question.  I don’t know about you, but that smells like potential leads to me.

Reach out to them personally and see if they have any questions you can help with.  If they’re following a question, it’s because they’re interested in the answer.

3. Market Research

Another use worth pointing out is the market research value.  Try to find information on your competitors on the web, and you’ll probably end up doing a lot of guessing.

Ask a question (you can ask anonymously) on Quora, and you’ll be surprised what kind of ex-employees and other knowledgeable folks come out of the woodwork.

4. Search Engine Optimization – Link Building

I’m hesitant to add this one because I can see this being where “marketers” who suck at their job start spamming the site and ruining it for everyone. Marketing doesn’t ruin things…bad marketing does.

In the spirit of being thorough however, SEO is something that’s important and so it should be included.  Whenever someone links to your site or blog from a quora answer or comment, it does send a trackback.  It’s a little unusual for sites like this, who would usually use no-follow links to reduce spam.

My best advice… use Quora honestly and let the links build organically.

5. Content Marketing Inspiration

Not sure what to write about on your corporate blog?  Struggling to squeeze out a few more pages in that e-book?  Turn to Quora to find content to write about.

It’s really perfect.  You want to write content that answers the questions of your potential customers.  Now you have a database of questions from people in your target market that you can answer in your own content.

To continue with the value of Search Engine Optimization…you’ll see a few trackbacks to this post from people who linked to it on Quora.  That’s because someone on Quora asked about using the tool for marketing, and people who answered it linked to this post a couple times. Furthermore, you can use foam core’s printed advertisements as a marketing tool instead. It can be placed in windows, walls, or any public places.

I didn’t plan that.  It did teach me something though.  Writing blog posts that answer specific questions on Quora may result in links back to your post if it’s good enough.

Have you used Quora?  Has it been useful for you?

You can find me on quora here.

8 Privacy Observations: All Your "Surface Information" are Belong to Us

Photo cred: Frog Design

Woah…Are you crazy bro? You’re going to check in?! But, everyone will know where you are! What if they want to rape or rob or…omg… what if there’s a creepy stalker dude just following you everywhere taking pictures to use in internet sex pornos?!

…wait, you don’t care?

1. “Surface information” is public property.

To this point, we’ve known privacy to mean that ONLY the people that we choose to bring in, will know things like your middle name, your location, the things you like, the things you hate, where you go at night, and who “it’s complicated” with…

We’ll call this “surface information“.  Surface information is the demographics of an individual.  It’s the type of stuff you add to your facebook profile.  If you’re still holding on to that information like it’s the key to your humanity…give up.

This information is no longer private, people can find it just by doing a background check of yourself. Privacy as we knew it is dead.

2. The kids and their rap music.

Think millenials are the ones changing the concept of privacy? Just wait…  Millenials’ children will have an entirely different view of privacy.  They’ll know the “innovative” platforms of today as the norm.  They’ll be raised with the understanding that their surface information is not their own but rather that of their networks.

There is a clear human need to share and connect that, with social sites like facebook and twitter, has knocked our previous perception of privacy and interaction on its ass.  I’ve witnessed this transformation throughout my life.  I can only imagine what’s in store for my kids…although if I have a daughter, she’s going to be locked in her room until she’s 18 and all tweets will have to be approved.

3.  The tools are coming.

So now that we know people love to share stuff, and connect with people based on the stuff they share, we will continue to build tools that allow for this human need to flourish.

As more tools are created to connect people and share information, more people will connect, and more information will be openly shared.

Foursquare is a new generation of technology that allows people to share information.

And it won’t stop there.  An interesting new startup was born out of Startup Weekend NYC recently.  It’s called Data Dough, and it allows people to “Take back the CASH companies like facebook and twitter make off of YOUR data!”.  People already love to share useless shit about themselves.  Imagine if they could actually make money by doing so…  Privacy what?

4. Businesses are starting to see the value in social platforms.

This means they’re more willing to pay to reach people on social platforms.  This means social platforms are more willing to sell your information.

When facebook made some this stuff automatically public, people had a fucking conniption. It was the end of the world. Our sacred information was just out there for anyone to have their way with.

Thing is, this information really isn’t worth much to us and is no longer considered worthy of hiding. In fact, we want people to know this stuff. We want others to know who we know, who we hang out with and as much of this “surface level” information as possible.

It actually makes our lives better when businesses know our tastes.  I can stop getting shitty ads about losing 50 pounds in 5 days and start getting more shitty ads about getting 20000 twitter followers in 15 minutes.  Much more targeted.

5. It’s not up to you.

You can try your best to control all of your surface information.  Unfortunately, we’re in an age where information is very often, crowdsourced.  That means that if you don’t post up pictures of yourself, someone else will. Anything you do or say in public is fair game on the social web.  So  unless you want to live like a hermit, you’re probably just going to have to accept it.

6. Augmented reality + facial recognition = everyone knows everyone at the surface.

Check out the image at the top of this post and the other sweet designs that Frog design came up with for augmented reality in our day-to-day lives.  Now realize, that the technology already exists, and this is not too far away.  The potential implications are vast, and will undoubtedly, redefine our perception of privacy in the next 10 years.

7. But don’t worry, you’re relatively safe.

As  documentation technology becomes increasingly engrained in society, the ability to do evil without being caught decreases greatly.  There are more eyes watching you so it’s harder to commit crimes without being seen.  More eyes watching means more information can be safely shared.

Try mugging someone in a major city and running away.  You’ll be more evidentially fucked than BP on earth day.

8. Real secrets are still yours to keep…even more so!

Privacy is becoming black and white. Some things you share with everyone, and other things you share with no one.  That means that the information you hold near and dear to your heart are more safe than ever.


People think that because they know your surface information, that they know who you are.  People are lazy, and so if they can convince themselves that they know everything about a person from checking their facebook page and a quick google search, they won’t dig much deeper.

That’s all I got.  You might disagree but it’s a clear trend in my eyes.  What are your thoughts? …or are you keeping them a secret?  Smart ass.