As many of us have mentioned in previous posts, transparency is essential to a company’s successful use of social media. With many people trusting companies less and less, being transparent with your publics develops a positive image. The article “Multi-method analysis of transparency in social media practices: survey, interviews and content analysis” looked at the best ways to use social media and become a transparent company.
The article explains that there are three key factors that affect transparency. The first element of transparency is providing truthful and useful information. Obviously if a company puts out lies, the public will eventually lose trust in them. Also, withholding information from publics is not being transparent. Even if information might hurt the company’s image, it is better to put it out there rather than try to hide it, and it end up being leaked. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Dominos’ quickly realized that holding back information could backfire and create a even worse situation.
The second element is developing interactivity, and encouraging the publics to participate. If you create a way for publics to interact with your company, but don’t promote it, it’s pointless. The first step to gaining customer participation is actually engaging them. After you have their engagement, you keep their attention by the interactive features. Public participation helps transparency because it leads the customers to feel like they are a part of the company. Interacting with customers also leads to better relationships, creating more trust.
The third element is disseminating information that is objective and accountable. Putting out biased information may not support the values of some of your customers, which could result in losing your audience. Also, by sending out messages that are not objective, companies can cause customers to be defensive and question their character. This somewhat goes back to the first element, because in order to provide information that is accountable, it has to be truthful.
Transparency is achieved when companies use social media to let their audiences know what they are doing and report news. Not only do they tell publics recent decisions they have made, but they can also use the outlets to explain why they make certain decisions. By letting the publics know the rationale behind decisions, companies because more transparent because they are giving the whole process of making a decision, not just the outcome. Transparency allows for a company to help customers understand new information, company policies and their values.
This video has the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream talking about how that company is transparent. He explains that it starts internally, having corporate transparency and top management acting as role models for employees.
The article “Why Extreme Transparency Requires Extreme Trust” explains how transparency and trust go hand in hand together. Transparency affects many other aspects of a company, such as reputation and image, which is why it is so important to focus on. Social media provides many outlets to become a transparent company.
By: Lauren Metz