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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Transparency & Social Media Marketing

Diva Marketing Blog

What do you think of 'transparency' & social media marketing?

Have you considered the importance of 'transparency' for your marketing and your social media marketing in particular?

As Wikipedia defines transparency, the term refers to "openness, communication and accountability." It's a concept that has become increasingly important in the marketplace as I describe in 2010 Consumer & Marketplace Trends.

In a retail environment, transparency means that a customer understands that product pricing is fair, consistent and comparable to pricing elsewhere.

In a social environment, transparency means that the person you encounter is the real deal and not pretending to be someone else.

And, yet, in a social media marketing environment, transparency isn't always quite as transparent... or is it? What happens when an organization brings in outside expert help? What works? What doesn't?

My friend, Toby Bloomberg, author of the inspiring Diva Marketing Blog and John Cass, PR Communications, recently discussed "where does the concept of transparency fits into the new social media marketing model - content developed by people outside of the enterprise."

As Toby describes:
* Bloggers have long discussed the importance of transparency when writing content on a blog. With the growth in the adoption of social media marketing, many marketers now wonder how would they develop enough content for all of their new social media channels.

* When a client hires an agency to write content for their blog, twitter account, Facebook page, we are wondering about the level of transparency by an agency writer on a client's social media channel.

* We ask you: What are the practices that you think should be followed? Feel free to tell us if you have differences of opinions across social media channels.

The end result of the conversation was a collaborative cross-post project where -- "as any good social media citizen would do" -- they invited the community to discuss the matter of transparency capturing the responses in two posts:

+ Where Does 'Transparency' Fit In The New Social Media Marketing Model?
+ 30+ Diverse Opinions On Social Media Agency Transparency

PR CommunicationsIn total, 39 people, all active in social media, shared insights.

Their views ranged from total transparency to not necessary.

My favorite quote is from Yvonne DiVita who reminds us, " .. in the end it isn't the bloggers, the company or the agency that will dictate the success... it's the customers."

In case you hadn't yet decided, my response falls in the 'total transparency' camp. More specifically:

Toby, thanks for this timely and relevant discussion. It's interesting to step back and appreciate that social media tools are communication tools [marvelous ones in my opinion!] and they can be used in the traditional push format or to engage & interact & be social. It's a subtle difference if you're in the traditional mindset and a glaringly obvious one if you're already on the social side.

To be effective in a social environment, you must be human, authentic, responsive, consistent and genuinely interested. It's what you so often remind us of: it's like being invited into someone's living room.

I recently set up the "Social Flooring Index" to monitor the social state of flooring - an extremely traditional industry mostly committed to push marketing. It's been fascinating to observe the process of evolution from traditional to social, and what it takes to get immersed in the social aspect. What this tells me is that the more transparent and authentic the effort, the more credible it is.Better not to delegate all responsibility for your social efforts to 3rd parties who - for the most part - really can't speak competently to your customers. Get guidance, include them, but own it.

I love the approach that DC Goodwill has taken to make the transition in DC Fashionistas and establish connection/continuity for its audience. About developing enough content. Companies develop content ALL the time [or they should be!]. With social media, they have the opportunity to multi-purpose their original content work and distribute it in a variety of forms. It takes some effort at first to proactively think in those terms, but it's effective. When I did that in pre-digital days, I referred to it as 'merchandising my marketing.'

Thanks again for this marvelous discussion.

I encourage you to visit Toby's and John's posts. Read through all of the contributions, including those in the comments.

Then, would you let me know what your thoughts are on transparency and social media marketing?


  1. C.B. thanks for continuing this important conversation (and your kind words). in a world that begs for trust it continues to surprise me how many shades of gray organizations bring to the transparency table. do you think we'll ever be able to develop a social media transparency model?

  2. Toby, I do hope so! It's fascinating how one's professional background affects one's interpretation of transparency. Thanks again to you and John for opening up the topic for discussion.


Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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