In a word full of chatbots and automation, people are searching for humanity.
Social media allows us to share every detail of our lives while also giving businesses the power to hide behind a screen. However, users are now opting to share less of their private lives and want to know more about brands. This trend is forcing businesses to shift from using social media as a way to promote products to now becoming more transparent and engage with their audience.
Gone are the days of sharing “office culture” content on social media of the staff drinking coffee. That doesn’t cut it anymore. Don’t get me wrong we all love a coffee on a Monday morning but if you want to truly engage with your customers on a serious level you’re going to need to reveal more than that.
Why Transparency Matters
Vulnerability encourages loyalty. The more you know the more likely you are to trust someone. There is a reason why salespeople are still flying around the globe to close deals and not virtually shaking hands via Skype. It’s difficult to trust someone you don’t fully know and the same goes for customers. If you want to build trust with new and old customers you need to be as transparent as possible.
There is a level of pressure for businesses to share critical information. With an infinite amount of knowledge at consumer finger tips, if you're not sharing it with them, they will find it anyway. 69% of customers believe that withheld information is an indicator of poor transparency (Sprout Social). Being as open as possible with your audience will avoid suspicion and disappointment.
Where to Start
Start your journey of transparency in the workplace. If you’re going to let your customers in you need to let your employees in first. Showing your employees the ins and outs of the company behind closed doors, builds trust in the workplace that can be transferred onto customers.
It’s not about what you sell but who you are. You can have a perfect product but if your company values don’t align with the consumer standard they will look elsewhere. Reveal to them not only what you do but how & why you do it.
Engage with Purpose
Social media is your chance to put all your cards on the table. As one of the first brand touch points, being transparent on social has the power to not only attract new customers but retain current ones. Being transparent about your business allows your audience to feel as though they’re apart of something bigger than a brand, resulting in increased engagement & extended customer lifetime value
Customers want to be heard, and you should listen. Engaging with your customers regularly ensures they feel valued. According to Forbes, 62% of millennials are more likely to remain loyal to a brand if they’ve engaged with them in one way or another. Building a marketing strategy that encourages opinions and suggestions emphasises that the customer comes first.
Customers look to reviews and testimonials when they’re in the decision stage of a purchase. People tend to value reviews just as much as they do a recommendation from a family member or friend, so by responding to reviews both negative and positive shows them you’re listening.
We all know that word of mouth is the most powerful tool for company growth. So if the word is negative you need to address it. 89% of people agree a business can earn back their trust if they openly admit to the mistake and resolve the issue in a transparent manner (Sprout Social). Publicly solving a problem gives other customers the reassurance that you will do the same for them if it were to occur.
Transparency is no longer a trend, but rather a tool
Company transparency goes beyond social media. It should not only be apart of your marketing strategy but apart of your business strategy.
SaaS companies like Buffer are sharing information regarding revenue, pricing, product roadmaps and even salaries, of course not all of us can go to that extreme but, this level of transparency is not only beneficial in the sales cycle but also reflects company values and influences customers to choose your company over your competitors.
This urge for transparency may be difficult to embrace for those who have a less admirable business model. If you don’t want your customers to see what’s behind the curtain then perhaps you need to reconsider what you’re hiding.