In social media (and pretty much any other type of business), transparency is pretty important. If you are a business that is trying to increase buzz or awareness of your products or services, being sneaky and shady definitely doesn’t help create a pretty picture. If you are open, it allows your consumers to give real feedback and engage in real conversations.
Take Tiger Woods as a real-life example. Yes, yes, we know that everyone everywhere is talking about him (hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em). When the scandal broke, Tiger remained hidden and unavailable. Had he responded immediately, even with a vague statement, media speculation would have not been as damaging or rampant. We do have to commend him though, because eventually he did release a statement. Most other celebs choose to just stay cooped up, waiting for the storm to blow over. Or they just go on an interview without ever actually talking to their fans. We may not respect Tiger Woods’ decisions, but at least he stepped up to the transparency plate.
On another, more social media oriented note, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s creator and golden boy) also recently practiced transparency. His recent letter, which first appeared on your Facebook home page and now on the Facebook blog, addressed changes that were being made on Facebook that would directly affect the users. He tells you exactly what you need to know: how these changes will be made, when, how, and why. And even though Facebook received some backlash for their changes in privacy settings, we commend Mr. Zuckerberg on his transparent letter in attempt to let everyone know what was up.
That being said, transparency helps. It just does. Having conversations on the web and engaging consumers is about having real, open discussions with people. You can’t have a meaningful conversation if you aren’t acting like a real person. Even more so, timing in your transparency goes a long way. The sooner, the better.
So take the time to make sure that you are being transparent. Reflect on the conversations you are having and make it a priority to be clear and fully open about who you are and what your purpose is.