Market inn answers, ‘How honest should I be on social media?’

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Your mother was right, honesty is the best policy. Presenting a brand that’s honest and trustworthy can make it easier to gain and retain customers. And in a world of ‘fake news’, where the belief that corporations and governments are dishonest grows daily, transparency has never had a higher value.  The findings of a recent American study revealed just how powerful transparency can be for a business:

– More than half of consumers (53%) say a brand’s transparency on social media would cause them to consider that brand for their next purchase. 

– 37% say they would purchase more from a company that’s transparent on social media.

– 85% of people say a business’ history of being transparent makes them more likely to give it a second chance after a bad experience.

– 85% of people are more likely to stick by a business during a brand crisis if it has a history of being transparent.

Social media has increased the opportunities for people and brands to connect. And this has heightened consumers’ expectations of honesty. Failure to demonstrate transparency can have undesirable consequences: 86% of people are likely to take their business to a competitor when there’s a lack of transparency on social (44% are very likely). 

The numbers make it clear: it is worth being transparent. Here are some of our best policies for honesty on social media:

1. Don’t be perfect
Be real and be genuine. Don’t strive for a feed of complete perfection: where every image is beautifully manicured and every caption coated in sugar. Lives have been changed by Covid19. For many businesses, it’s created considerable challenges. Don’t be afraid to open up about your new reality. Showing your true story – the highs and the lows – will make your brand more relatable and therefore easier for people to connect with. Relatability is something people are seeking more and more; it’s one of the reasons the ‘Instagram versus reality’ trend continues to grow.

2. Humanize your brand
It’s hard for people to connect with a faceless entity. Giving your company a more ‘human’ feel will make it easier for people to relate to and connect with. Two good ways to achieve this: showing personality and making it obvious that there are humans behind your company.

Injecting personality into a business’ social media goes a long way to humanizing it. One brand that has hit the personality nail on the head is innocent drinks. They’ve created a personality for their brand; it’s funny, straightforward and in touch with what’s really going on in people’s lives. It shines through fantastically on social media; through the language they use, the topics they comment on, the imagery etc. Just have a scroll of the innocent drinks Twitter feed and you’ll feel it.

The second way to create a ‘more human’ feel is to tell the stories of your business and its people. Everyone loves a peak behind the scenes! Storytelling always creates an emotional response (and using photos and videos really intensifies this). You’ve got stories in every corner of your business. Who and what goes into the making of your product or the delivery of your service? Who’s the employee of the month? Hit some sort of milestone – how did you celebrate it? Made it to Friday – how did you celebrate it? 

Through showing personality and sharing your stories, your customer’s connection with you will feel more human and less salesy or transactional.

3. Own your mistakes
Mistakes happen. When they do, own up (Mother’s right, again). It might seem painful, but public honesty and complete transparency is the best way to build consumer trust and brand reputation. In the American study mentioned earlier, 89% of people said a business can regain their trust if it admits to a mistake and is transparent about the steps it will take to resolve the issue. 

Remember, through the power of social media consumers can call out and amplify major issues or mistakes very quickly. So don’t leave that owning up too long. 

4. Make personal connections
‘Don’t talk to strangers.’ (Mother again) So don’t let your brand be a stranger. Having one-to-one interactions is a great way to connect meaningfully with customers. There are simple ways to do this: when a person comments on a post or likes it, engage with them. If someone has a complaint or a question, respond. These interactions are also a great way to show your personality. “Sue, you’re shouting at tea” is a great recent example of this. 

With so few consumers genuinely believing that organisations in today’s world are capable of transparency, elevating its strategic importance could help your business stay ahead. Honesty and transparency on social media help businesses build and maintain trust, and foster long-lasting and positive relationships with consumers. So stick with the honest policy; trust and strong relationships are critical equipment when it comes to weathering bumps in the road. And it will make your mother happy. 

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