Business from the inside out

You Can’t Trust Social Proofs But You Can Trust Your Self

by | May 21, 2009 | Cultural Creativity


I got duped. They seemed trustworthy. But I lost my money and my phone number. And then they insulted me.

This month I got entangled with a bogus VoIP provider. The email above is the only human interaction I was able to establish with them. They sure fooled me with their website.

They used all the ‘keys’ to building trust online.

Most websites use these 5 social proofs to get you to trust them:

1. A site that ‘looks good’.
Check. has a very professionally designed site. Perfectly designed to appear credible.

2. Has easy means of contact.
Check. allows you to contact them via email, mail, instant message and phone. If you want to speak to a human however, none of these will work.

3. Provides testimonials.
Check. even has some on the homepage. As well as on a VoIP review site. Testimonials are the easiest thing to fake.

4. Has an ironclad guarantee.
Check. 30 day money back guarantee. Just try and get them to honour it;)

5. Uses official website seals.
They missed this one. But 4 out of 5 ain’t bad.

But what do these ‘keys’ prove?

According to ‘web experts’, these 5 items are the key to developing trust online. And I actually fell for it. I trusted and they stole my money, my phone number and insulted me.

Which got me thinking, these 5 social proofs that apparently are so key to building trust, what purpose do they actually serve? As I’ve learned, they don’t actually prove that you can trust the person or company. is neither reliable, true, able, or strong.

These ‘keys’ are proofs of credibility, but they don’t build trust.

Which is different.

Don’t get into the business of proving your credibility, get into the business of building trust.

Testimonials, iron-clad guarantees, snappy tag lines and the like are all tools used to prove credibility. They are tools used to get you to trust and believe what the person or company is saying. But why should you have to convince your client of that? We’re in the business of building relationships and providing value. If you are authentic and good at what you do, that should be evident when a new client speaks to you.

Where trust actually comes from.

Connection. From developing a relationship. From talking with the person or company and deciding for yourself.

Build trust by authentically connecting with your audience. Instead of credibility proofs, show you understand your visitors pain. Show the values your stand by. Be evident of the kind of person and business you are.

And above all, encourage your audience to connect with you, in whatever way that suits you. Only through human connection can trust be built. I had to learn this the hard way. If I had ever bothered to talk with before signing up, I would have realized exactly what kind of company they are.

Tara Joyce

Written by Tara Joyce

In 2008, I started this blog as I began working for myself. It is a reflection of my innerpreneurial journey, growing myself to grow my business. ABOUT ME

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You Can’t Trust Social Proofs But You Can Trust Your Self

By Tara Joyce Time to Read: 2 min