Transparency (aka “Trust Me”)

Let’s move on from privacy to another popular social media topic – transparency.  If you Google transparency and read a few articles, you will see several different definitions and uses of this word as it relates to social media marketing.  No one seems to have a firm grasp on the definition of the word, much less what it means to implement it.

Some people say that companies should show all their information about themselves – new products, financials, etc – to their customers.  But this version of “transparency” really concerns me.  Because while your customers are seeing all this information you are sharing, so are your competitors.  And unless you are a major and highly differentiated brand, like say Mountain Dew (who ran a contest to allow consumers to choose the name, flavor, artwork, and ad agency for their new soda brand, see “Dew Does the Crowd“); I think it is risky to share information that might give you an edge over your competitors.

Getting consumer input in a social arena is fine.  But providing too much notice on the what, where, when, and how of your next business moves can be dangerous to your business health.

Rather than focus on transparency, I think companies should focus on how to gain TRUST.   Because when your customers trust you, they will most likely return to buy from you again and again.  (Obviously, you have to consistently deliver on the promise, but that is another topic for another time).

I think Domino’s did a great job of using transparency to gain consumer trust.  Please take a moment to view the videos (Pizza Turnaround)  they put out to launch their pizza recipe overhaul.  Instead of just doing a bunch of “try our new great flavor” testimonial ads, they decided to show the background of why they made the change in a surprisingly candid way.  They showed their dirty laundry of negative consumer comments and then said how they had now made things better.

It seems that Americans respond well to a company admitting their wrong, taking responsibility, and then trying to make things right.  Jet Blue has done it before and Toyota is trying it now.

If you have some good examples of how this concept is used well, or not so well, please share them.

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