Why authenticity and transparency are key
It’s no mistake the first post on a blog about social media is about authenticity and transparency, two ideals that are of upmost importance when approaching social media.
Social media more than just levels the playing field; it puts the ball right in the consumers’ hands. The social web has allowed people to share their experiences and opinions of brands online. This kind of communication obviously happened offline before the Internet, but talking about a brand with 2 or 3 people around the water cooler or with the family over dinner is a vastly different scale to posting a message that is then available to several hundred contacts.
The power of the individual has never been greater: as Hird argues, with almost immediate access to their entire network “consumers can openly challenge brands in an environment where there is scope to make a massive amount of noise.”
It is this shift in power that is driving the revolution in branding and marketing. Companies can no long hide behind the branded message they broadcast, they have to have open and truthful conversations, they can no longer simply broadcast their message; they have to engage with consumers in an open dialogue.
The core facet of social media is to share information through social interaction using web technologies. And as such the same rules that apply to social interactions in the offline world, apply online. In order for two people to maintain a healthy relationship both parties must be clear about their intentions and remain honest to each other.
Companies and their employees must be completely open and have full disclosure with their audience. An attempt to pretend to be someone else or to hide behind false intentions will invariably be discovered and will result in serious damages to a brand’s reputation.
So why is it that employees are still trying to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes?
Without openness in your conversations there can’t be trust, and without trust there can’t be a relationship. And without a relationship, you’re screwed. This is a lesson that can’t be learned fast enough.