What is Transparency in Social Media?

Let’s talk a little bit about Transparency. Transparency is one of those social media marketing terms that you probably hear when being pitched a social media campaign, but what does it actually mean?  Traditionally, the term transparency is referenced in news media to tell the public why and how information is gathered from different sources.

What’s it mean in plain English though? You know…for the average person like you or me? It basically means I tell you who I received the information from so you know that it’s credible and that I was not the originator of the information. Online when you are doing business, transparency leads to credibility, it builds the trust from someone reporting information(me) by providing credible sources to the end viewer(YOU).

Transparency in social media especially when it comes to blogging and/or covering a product, brand or service means that’s I’m giving you an honest non-biased opinion or truth when I write or cover a particular topic. I do this a lot with book reviews and share what I learned from the books!

What does this mean for online business owners or people looking to get online? Online this can mean that, I am who I say I am online and that my reason for posting or having a discussion about a product, brand or service does not have any hidden agendas.  Or if I’m posting or having a discussion about a product, brand or service and was paid or hired to do so, you’ll know about it up front or it will be included in the conversations.

Why is transparency so important in Social Media Marketing?
Transparency is ALL about trust. With everyone trying to grab your attention online whether it is through a video, blog post, facebook ad or a tweet, trust that relationship marketing will be one of the key ways that brands will try to sell their services to customers. In other words brands and businesses will contact you saying ” you should blog out this, or can you tweet this”. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this but will you let your readers or subscriber know that you were paid to post content about a particular brand upfront or at all? If you are lying in your videos or product reviews, then people WILL find out. It might suck for those of you trying to “SCAM THE SYSTEM” but you shouldn’t be doing that anyway!

Will you sell using Social Media?

We’re in a time where companies will try leverage individuals who are community leaders or have a large audience for brand awareness. This is considered taking advantage of huge followings or the “People of Influence” in social circles. If you have a lot of followers on twitter, blog subscribers or subscribers in an email database you have the opportunity to leverage your community and establish a few relationships with brands who may want to reach your targeted audience. It’s something that we will call “selling their eyes”, to where you’re willing to push paid content to your community via product placement or sponsored ads. The best way to let your community know what you are up to is to be straight up honest with them about who you are and what you do, and also the fact that you get paid a small commission on each sale you refer.

Do you trust me?
There’s a lot of good and bad examples of transparency in social media and I’m not going say that I know everything about Social Media but I share what I learn and hope that it helps you. Anyway, I have an example about what happened to me over this past weekend. It’s quite a silly story actually and involves a heart being drawn onto my hand in PERMANENT MARKER!!! Then the next day I had a business meeting with someone who will be hosting a Social Media Marketing seminar in Buffalo, NY and I’ll be speaking there…. Oh boy it was funny :-p