4 Keys to thriving in an age of virtual trust 

As humans, who we trust and why has fundamentally changed – and this shift has far-reaching implications for increasing influence, either as a brand or as an individual.

I recently got to dive into this with Leonard Brody, an Emmy award-winning entrepreneur, TED speaker, venture capitalist and best-selling author. Who has also been called ‘a controversial leader of the new world order’ – due not in small part to his belief that since 2008 the world around us has been in the process of being fundamentally rewritten?

The public is now more likely to break the news than reporters. We are all more likely to trust the medical advice of a complete stranger than a doctor. The very concept of trust has shifted from the media, institutions and brands – to human beings.

So what does this Great Rewrite mean if you are a brand or an aspiring influencer? What are the new rules if the old rules of trust have been completely rewritten? Here are my top four insights from my conversation with Leonard Brody. Click HERE to listen to the full conversation.


Today as humans we all exist in two places simultaneously. First, as a physical being, and secondly as a ‘virtual being’ – our digital twin who communicates on our behalf online. Currently, an insane 75% of all our human interactions take place as our virtual selves – personally and professionally. The frightening part of this is that we are significantly more trusting online. Leonard used an amazing example to illustrate this:

“You would think being in front of someone physically would be a much more trust-driven experience. Meaning I could look you in the eyes and determine your body language. Actually, it turns out that our virtual identities are a lot more trusting; as a parent, you wouldn’t post photos of your baby on a neighbourhood lamp post, yet we post hundreds of photographs of our children on Facebook, which is globally open and searchable.”


We trust who our tribes trust. Now that we spend such a huge proportion of our time communicating – and ultimately being influenced by our connections online. Social movements like the #metoo campaign, have proven that we now have the ability to spread across global networks in incredibly short periods of time. The #metoo went from one Tweet – to 2.3 million mentions from eighty-five different countries – within two weeks. This means that the make or break of trust is no longer the individual word of mouth – but the combined sentiment of the digital tribe. Or to be more specific 280 characters or less on a Twitter feed.

Take also the current public outcry over Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal (#deletefacebook). If the most influential members of your current online tribe decided to switch platforms – post their ideas, photos, insights and invitations on Google Hangouts for example. How long would it take you to jump ship? Essentially – at what point would the lack of collective digital trust in Facebook impact your choices.


So what does it take to win trust in a new age of virtual tribes? I would argue it once again raises the need for ‘epic contribution’. If you want to win over the collective trust of the tribe – you need to be publishing information and content that’s useful, relevant and valuable. Content that answers their questions, speaks to their collective challenges and provides usable tools that can be implemented and (most importantly) shared.

The brands and individuals that nail this, will be the ones that really benefit from the power of virtual trust. Most of us are more than willing to share valuable information within our networks. Assuming you create information and tools we can trust – we will happily endorse you within our network. This trust halo then gets adopted within our tribe and amplified even further. This is where the amplification effect of the internet is a total game changer for brands and individuals willing to out-contribute their competitors.


As human being’s we all now have access to more power – more platforms – and more global influence – than at any other time in history. This rise in virtual trust, combined with how often we now look to the online world to influence our decisions – creates the need for far greater responsibility. A dramatic increase in how mindful we are about what we allow to influence us, as well as the information we put out there to influence others.

In the words of Spiderman ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’. The digital revolution – or Great Rewrite in the words of Leonard Brody – has given us powers that would have seemed superhuman even a decade ago. Our role is to take these powers seriously and use them wisely. That’s probably the single largest influence decision we will have at our fingertips over the coming years.

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration into what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes, Spotify or juliemasters.com.

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