Trust in the Outdoors: REI
After going through my social media sites and online routines, I discovered I really don’t follow any particular individual. While there are individuals I trust, I really didn’t want to write a blog about my family, friends or co-workers. So I’m going out on a limb for this assignment, I went with one of the few companies I follow – Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) and decided I would focus on them and why I trust them.
In going through this week’s readings and lecture materials, I really questioned why I trust REI and what this organization gets out of gaining my trust. To answer these questions, I wanted to use Steve Rayson’s New Formula For Social Media Trust; however, I don’t completely agree with this equation, so I’d like to use my own trust equation to assess my relationship REI and why I trust them:
Honesty x Credibility x Reliability x Accuracy x Intimacy x Care/Respect
Honesty. I never get the sense that the REI social media team or customer service representatives are deceitful or lying about the content or blogs they post. There’s always a helpful, informative message on outdoor activities or gear. And they even have terms and conditions!
Credibility. When I interact with REI – be it online, social media or brick and mortar, I am interacting with individuals who specialize in a particular area who can provide me with first-hand accounts / personal experience on “gear and apparel for outdoor pursuits, including hiking, cycling, fitness, camping, snowsports, traveling, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, bird watching and more.
Below are two helpful demonstration videos that outline REI’s credibility:
Reliable. Reviewing REI’s Facebook site, the company is consistently provided new content for its members in the forms of informative links, images, videos. You can always count on the site having update material throughout the day.
Timeliness. REI may receive a negative mark for this variable in my equation, but only because I couldn’t find any comments or responses. They did a nice job tying in timely external events, but in terms of communicating to users, I struggled to find any conversations like the Northern Rail Twitter examples from lecture.
Intimacy. I find I am aligned with REI’s mission and philosophy – i.e. They “inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” Outdoor adventure and stewardship is something I do in my free time and it is refreshing to see a company have the same set of beliefs. I am very comfortable with this organization and find I am listened to and when I ask for help and I am not judged.
Accuracy. With something as technical as outdoor sports, accurate information with outdoor enthusiasts is essential to creating that connection and trust. Providing accurate information could me life or death:
Care and Respect. Reading REI’s posts, I feel one gets a sense of compassion and respect for those who love the outdoors; including the following examples:
REI Summer Adventures- Campsite
This summer, REI adventures all start at the campsite. Choose which REI summer adventure you would like to see next. #REIGearUp— at National Park Service – Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Sliding Through the Magic Hour: Sunset Vermont Skiing by Ember Photography on the REI Blog: http://bit.ly/1ynwwwO
Self-Orientation is another component where REI may receive a negative grade. This is a for-profit company so many of the social media communications reference sales, gift ideas, gear sold in stores, etc. The call to action was pretty clear – go only to REI to get your outdoor gear. But is this necessarily a bad thing? REI is providing me a community to discuss and share my ideas, with local experts who I can open up to and not be judged. They demonstrate care and respect for what I am passionate about and they are very accurate, timely and reliable.
How does REI benefit from my trust?
- Communication By trusting them, I help distribute their message for free. With every click, like and share, I’m promoting them as trustworthy, outdoor experts.
- Referrals. By sharing their information, and in personal conversations, I refer friends and family to their sites and stores.
- Pure Profit. Because I am aligned with them and appreciate what they provide, I will only go to them for my outdoor shopping needs.
Looking at why I trust REI through The Trusted Advisor lens (My lecture reaction has more background on this book), I feel it addresses and demonstrates the characteristics of a trustful company. Below is a passage about what characteristics Trusted Advisors share the from a client perspective:
• Are consistent, we can depend on them
• Don’t try to force things on us
• Help us think things through (it’s our decision)
• Don’t substitute their judgment for ours
• Help us think and separate our logic from our emotion
• Don’t pull their punches (we can rely on them to tell us the truth)
• Give us reasoning (help us think) not just their conclusions
• Challenge our assumptions (help us uncover the false assumptions we’ve been working under)
• Make us feel comfortable and casual personally (but they take the issues seriously)
• Act like a real person, not someone in a role
• Are reliably on our side and always seem to have our interests at heart
• Have a sense of humor to diffuse (our) tension in tough situations
What do you think? How many of these characteristics does REI achieve?
I found this quote from Steve Covey and thought it did a nice job of summarizing trust. I’ll leave you with this thought –
“Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust. Nothing is as fulfilling as a relationship of trust. Nothing is as inspiring as an offering of trust. Nothing is as profitable as the economics of trust. Nothing has more influence than a reputation of trust.” – Stephen Covey
• Would you agree with my assessment of REI? Do you view them as a trustworthy company?
• Using your own trust equation, how would you rank REI?
• Should individuals and companies be held to two different levels or standards of trust?