According to a new report, the majority of consumers are serious about demanding social media transparencyfrom companies and brands. The results of the report, Social Media and the Evolution of Transparency, emerged from a survey of 1,000 individuals in the United States, and found that 86 percent believe it is more important than ever before for brands to be transparent in their social media marketing and communications.
The report demonstrates that consumers are more willing to be loyal to brands that display qualities such as being open (59 percent), clear (53 percent) and honest (49 percent). Loyalty to brands that exhibit social media transparency was demonstrable even in cases where customers had had a negative experience with the brand; 89 percent of people said they would be willing to stick with the company and give them a second chance, while 85 percent said they would remain loyal to transparent businesses through a crisis.
In a similar vein, lack of transparency was viewed negatively by the vast majority of consumers. A lack of social media transparency on the part of a brand would lead 86 percent of consumers to take their business elsewhere. In terms of purchasing decisions, 53 percent of people surveyed said that they are more likely to consider their next purchase from a brand that is transparent in its social media marketing and communications.
One particularly interesting result from the survey was the strong burden of transparency that consumers put on businesses – 81 percent said that companies have a higher responsibility for social media transparency compared to politicians (79 percent), non-profit organizations (77 percent), CEOs (75 percent), themselves (71 percent), friends and family (66 percent) or celebrities (57 percent).
The report shows that many stakeholders in businesses fail to connect the dots on how social media transparencydemonstrates authenticity to customers and potential customers, and encourages brands to come to terms with the fact that the vast majority of individuals “expect to have relationships and communication with brands that fuel a sense of personal and direct connection.”
The results of the survey make clear that the very nature of social media marketing and communications means that businesses must “commit to transparency in advance, in multiple formats and in real time.” In essence, brands that regularly practice transparency — both proactively and reactively — are building a safety net for their reputation, customer retention and long-term loyalty.
At Beyond Fifteen we believe that social media transparency is at the heart of building a relationship of trust with both existing and potential customers. It is both a business imperative and a differentiating factor that should be core to social media marketing efforts and the messages you present to consumers about your brand.