Building Offline Trust with Online Tools? Survey Says Yes.

Trust is the cornerstone of the sharing economy. For sharing companies, figuring out how to establish, build, monitor and preserve trust is a top priority. European ridesharing company BlaBlaCar, along with its brawny new superhero mascot Trustman, recently surveyed 631 of its members to find out what creates a sense of trust between people, why people share, and what role companies should play in building trust.

One surprising result of the survey is that respondents trust people with completed profiles more than those with only positive reviews, and almost as much as friends and family members. Apparently people are more forgiving of a negative review than they are someone who withholds information.

Here’s a roundup of the survey’s findings:

Seeing a stranger in-person heightens trust
Not surprisingly, close friends and family members are trusted the most, rating 4.7 on a scale of 5. A stranger online scores 1.9 but trust increases with an in-person sighting as a stranger in the street scores 2.2 on the trust scale.

Member profiles matter
Members with completed profiles are trusted almost as much as friends and family, scoring 4.23 on the trust scale, even higher than those with only positive ratings who scored 3.39.

Community regulation is key to building trust
A whopping 74.6% of participants placed community regulation as the most important role BlaBlaCar plays. To put this into a broader context, community members rely on sharing companies to take an active role in regulating the community. The sense that there is accountability on a platform-wide level is a strong builder of trust.

Most people share cars to save money
When asked what their reasons for sharing a car were, 84.6% of respondents placed savings at the top of the list, followed by friendliness (52.1%), environment (40.3%), sharing (34.7%), and good company (29%). Other reasons include collaboration, sociability and common sense.

People like to share stuff
Outside of car sharing, peer-to-peer marketplaces are the most common means of sharing for BlaBlaCar members, with 76% of respondents having bought or sold second-hand goods. Skillshares were next, with a 27% participation rate, and 25% have done homestays. Crowdfunding platforms are used by 18%. Surprisingly, only 3% of respondents use peer-to-peer car rental services. This may point to the fact that BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing community that prioritizes carpooling over renting.

Conclusion
The fact that trust is an enabler of community, is nothing new. People have been building trusted social circles for as long as we’ve been around. But now there’s a need to establish trust with people we’ve only met online. For this, we rely on each other. This particular survey’s results are limited as they only reflect the BlaBlaCar community, but they reinforce the importance of trust and offer numbers on what creates and drives it.

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