How Transparent Are You?July 1st, 2010 by Li Evans
Transparency can have many levels and if you are a company that is planing to send your marketers into social media communities, making sure your companies actions are transparent on all levels is a very important part of building a community. Building solid relationships built on trust is what makes your efforts continuously success in social media, it’s also what will bolster you up when firestorms hit.
Be Transparent About Who You Are
Let’s face it, in any community, the members are smart. They are in there day in and day out, conversing, sharing, and experiencing. They form relationships and can queue in instantly to anything that remotely smells of a fake. The worst thing any company can do is go into a community and “disguise” themselves as a customer or fan. The moment you start interjecting that your brand is great, your brand would be a solution, or just automatically start talking about your products, services or company, without establishing yourself first, trust me, the jig is up.
Community member protect their own, whether it’s other members or the integrity of the community itself. The moment they smell an impostor, they are hot on the trail to dig up who that person is. In today’s day and age, you might think you are anonymous, but admins in these communities can see your IP address. An email to the technical team of any social networking site about suspicious activity will send that IT person on a trail to hunt down who you really are. When that become public – and trust me it will, you won’t ever have another shot with your community again.
This is why its important for the very start off in your community building efforts with being transparent about exactly who you are and don’t try and hide it in covert ways.
Be Transparent About Your Intentions
Right up there with being honest about who you are when you engage with different social media communities is to make sure you are very transparent about your intentions for joining the community. If you are there to gain a better understanding about what people think about your company, say so. If you are there to just listen, engage and share, say so. If you’re there just to hand out coupon codes, make sure you are very upfront about it.
A huge misstep would be to say “hey we’re just here to listen and learn” and then the next week start posting links to your weekly or daily promotions. That’s one way to piss off a lot of community members really fast. It’s also the quickest way to a cold shoulder from community members. Stating your intentions and sticking to them is a very foundational concept that marketers miss a lot of times with all the excitement of implementing their social media tactics. Once they dig in and see all the possibilities, this totally miss the opportunity to make sure they are transparent about their new intentions and then soon find themselves out in the cold of the community they just joined.
Be Transparent About Changes Within Your Company
When ever change comes to your company and your team knows about it, make sure you are transparent about that too. The last thing you need is your social media marketing team hung out to dry with a community because they were made to look like they lied about some change that happened within your company that was beyond their control. When changes happen, your social media team should be one of the first teams to know what’s going on. Word travels in social media communities faster than you can imagine. If your team is up front and honest with your chosen social media communities that the changes are coming to your product, services, company or even your employees your foundation of trust grows and your community feels more connected to you.
If they have to find out from another news source, it could look like you are hiding something from them, or worse you lied to them. Neither of which bode well for you to keep building a solid community.
At the end of the day, trying to trick any social media community or keep information from them is a bad move. When the truth comes out, you’ll have a worse firestorm on your hands. At least if you’ve been transparent about who you are, your intentions and anything going on within your company you’ll have more of a fighting chance a building a solid community, one that may actually stand by you when those firestorms hit.
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