Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Newest Currency

It should have been front page news, the day that the new currency became official, but somehow it slipped by unnoticed, as so many of the huge changes in our world do. Which day was it that a "Gee, thanks, great product and super service" was given an actual dollar value and when your "like" clicks actually tangibly increased someone's income?

The giving and receiving of praise is possibly the oldest currency... it starts from our mothers patting our backs when we've drunk enough milk and squealing excitedly when we take our first steps. At that point, the value of praise is priceless.

When my little girl gives her all in what she's doing, she frowns with delightful concentration. That might be during the dressing phase to become a magical fairy princess or when she's learning to colour within the lines. She looks to me for approval every step of the way, and it is given freely and abundantly and regularly. She looks up for a moment, gets the message that she's doing great and then she goes back to it with confidence and focus.

Unless you are someone learning to sell online, you probably don't really understand that all those little "buyer feedbacks" and "reviews" and "likes" are counted in dollars and cents by someone out there. At the most obvious level, say on eBay for example, you can't move past auctioning one item at a time till you get 15 separate 100% feedbacks on purchases made. When you get lots of feedbacks, eBay upgrades you to be a Power Seller which has direct financial benefits. On a more subtle level, search engines look for sites with lots of links and automatically rank a site higher which has more. So when you go into Trip Adviser and leave a lovely review and your email address against a given service provider, retailer, hotel or whatever, you are actually giving them something that will ultimately generate money for them. The simple act of rating an article on a blog will change the way the search engines display it in search results, which ultimately will mean more site visits and more sales for someone out there.

In a way it's sad that something like a smile and a spontaneous "thanks" has turned into an obligation. But like most things, you need to turn it around and reconsider. Think about the request for your feedback as a chance to support a new business, to tangibly give a tip to someone whose service or product you like and appreciate. Funny thing is, like encouraging a child, it makes you feel good and everybody wins.

So, consider that today you are like a rich woman strutting the town with a big purse full of "money" - your praise, thanks, clicks, stars and feedbacks. Fling it around! Start by rating this article... :) Click some "likes" on facebook and recommend the page to your friends... that business owner will be mighty grateful. But don't just do it in the faceless online world. Tell your vegetable vendor at the market that he has the nicest tomatoes. Smile at the car parking attendant who makes sure no-one breaks into your car while you shop. Send a note to a friend to say thanks for being supportive.

The best part of the new currency is that it never runs out... it sort of grows, actually. When you give nice thoughts and feelings, you feel better and then you feel like doing it more. It makes people smile and its the sort of currency that has always made the world go around.

Start small. Click a few times when you might have hesitated, become a fan of something you like, rate a blog article, remember to do your buyer feedback on eBay... and smile. Remember, this currency never runs out and you never feel guilty.



  1. Well said and well written Marike. Our active participation in the virtual community mirrors how we chose to act locally. Some of the marvelous traits in old cultures of the world are the emphasis on politeness and kind human exchange. Generosity with words and comments are considered a marker of civilized life. As you so eloquently describe, we should keep this in mind in virtual life.

  2. Brilliant article Marike, as you know I am learning the importance of "Web 2.0" right now in promoting my organization and it is a lot to keep up with but can be well worth it. It is also important to remember to hand out just as many smiles in a day as "likes" and we all need to remember that. Thank you!