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Building Trust Online, Revolution-Style

Web traffic is an important measure for a website to try and build an audience and get some traction in people’s minds. Outside of longevity, there are few ways of building a loyal audience online, especially for important topics like health and mental health, because people need to trust who is providing the information. Given how easy it is to start a company and publish a website nowadays, trust really does have to be earned — it cannot be bought. There are no shortcuts to “trust.”

Now, you and I both know this. Most people who have ever had a relationship go sour because of a trust issue know how difficult it is to trust again. I’m sure anyone who was a victim of AOL’s inadvertent release of their supposedly-anonymized search data last year knows this too.

Revolution Health has a unique idea in building a “Health Fair” online. But I did scratch my head quite some time trying to figure out, “What value does this ‘health fair online’ bring to me, the consumer?” I mean, online, every website is exactly one click away from my browser. I know the web address of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and if I didn’t, I could look it up in 3 seconds on Google. Is Revolution Health really such a huge online health destination that they have so much traffic they can just “give it away.”

Well, no. Revolution Health, being the new kid on the block, has little Web traffic that isn’t being directly purchased by them via search engines, or utilizing one of their bought properties to drive people to their site (like RemedyFind or Wondir). Nothing wrong with that, as that’s exactly how you have to build your brand. What’s annoying is getting an email like this:


I’m writing with some important news for all bloggers writing about Mental Illness, information that we hope you will pass along to your readers. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has joined the Revolution Health Fair, ( pages/national-alliance-on-mental-illness-) an online event launched in partnership with 10 national nonprofit organizations who each host a virtual “booth.” Until the end of June, for every visitor to a partner organization’s booth Revolution Health will make a donation to that partner for a total of up to $10,000.

We hope you’ll let your readers know about this. They’ll get valuable information and help the groups who advocate for them to prosper.

If you have any questions please contact me at ***. We’re looking forward to your participation.

– M*** ***, on behalf of Revolution Health

(M*** works for Echo Ditto, a firm that “creates vibrant communities online and empowers people through the creative use of emerging technologies.”)

So, basically, it appears they are using the concept of a Health Fair online to drive traffic to their site, and donations to the dozen groups they signed up to participate in this fair. Cool, right?

Well, let’s compare this to a real-world health fair in a local community. In such a fair, the companies and organizations who want to be a part of the fair typically have to pay some amount to be included, since physical space is limited. Have a local health clinic you want people and local professionals to know about? Pony up a few hundred dollars and setup your booth.

So my question is simple… If Revolution Health is paying the companies and organizations in their fair (up to $10,000!), rather than the other way around, what’s going on here?

Why is the money going in the reverse direction?

My opinion is that the answer is “trust.” I believe these organizations bring the mantle of “trust” to Revolution Health, since they are non-profit and have been around a lot longer than Revolution Health has been. Revolution Health, in my opinion, is buying the hope of some of that trust rubbing off on them for $10,000 a pop.

So there’s your blog entry. They asked for it, and they got it, but it’s probably not quite what they had in mind… 🙂

PS – Real “revolutionary” caring about such non-profits wouldn’t tie traffic numbers to donation numbers. It would commit to donating $X no matter what traffic the site generated, because non-profits don’t have as much choice as for-profit organizations like Revolution Health does.

Building Trust Online, Revolution-Style

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Building Trust Online, Revolution-Style. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 22 Jun 2007)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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