According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, transparency can be defined as:
- free from pretense or deceipt
- easily detected or seen through
- readily understood
- characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practice
Social media provides an excellent tool for companies to control their level of transparency. By taking advantage of direct and ongoing relationships with your audience, you can share as much (or as little) as you’d like.
The question is, how much do you want to share?
To answer that, I looked to the help of Pam Poore’s blog article “Social Brand Humanization: Transparency vs. Authenticity.”
She begins by differentiating between transparency and authenticity: both important components of any social media marketing plan. She says that “transparency is how much you share and authenticity is the truth of your words and actions.” Her main point here is that confusing authenticity with transparency can mislead companies into believing that they must share the same thing with everyone in order to be viewed as authentic – but that’s not the truth.
According to Pam, “Authenticity does not require the same level of transparency with every relationship.” There are different layers of transparency that vary based on who you are, your industry’s norms, who’s in your community, and who your audience is. How much you decide to share with who will determine the future of your relationship and what benefits can be achieved.
I never really thought of tailoring transparency to different audiences before, but after reading her article it makes perfect sense. For instance, on LinkedIn or Google+ where your company may connect with more industry partners you may wish to be more (or less) transparent.
You should consider carefully what you share to whom so as not to help your competitors as well. That’s one great advantage of Google+, you can add certain people and communities to your circles and choose who specifically to share your content with. This is a great way to influence key industry leaders and promoters while preventing your competition from gaining any kind of advantage.
Furthermore, your consumers probably don’t need to know about your company’s Christmas party, but may be interested in the fact that you’ve recently switched over to a more environmentally friendly production process and enlighten them about the damage your previous production methods caused.
Your investors on the other hand may be grateful for the opportunity to see your newest policies, pricing, and future prototypes. This will build trust with them and encourage them to continue to invest in your company. (See image below)
By investing some time and effort into selecting what you share with whom, you will be able to build better relationships. To decide what your company’s transparency levels should be to which audiences, you must as Pam points out, know yourself and your audience. Once you’ve figured out what and where you’re comfortable sharing, you can begin incorporating transparency into your social media strategy.
Do you think that your company should tailor what it says to different audiences? What kinds of things might you want to share only with industry contacts? How about your consumers? Comment with your thoughts below 🙂