Is the story you’re telling matching the tale you’re living?
We all want to look good, right? We groom ourselves… Dress up for an event… Create an image of how we want others to see us, even if it isn’t the way we see ourselves… Or isn’t who we really are.
In business, it’s very easy to go down this same road. We create marketing collateral that highlights all the wonderful features of a product, yet omits any shortcomings or concerns. We tout how we specialize in customer service, yet react to phone calls as a nuisance. Over-selling and under-performing at its finest. We are simply putting up a front to ‘look’ like the type of organization we think we ‘should’ be, even if we’re not.
The web has changed our world in immeasurable ways. One of the most important aspects is how quickly and easily an individual can research another person or a company. The image you are taping up in the window quickly fades away and the ‘real’ you is seen.
This is transparency.
Sure, companies and politicians are selling themselves on this concept already. The thing is, they are doing it in a strategic manner. By planting some information here and there, then telling the public “We want to be transparent, so look at this…” these folks are manipulating the public. And, it appears to be working to some extent.
This is a short-term strategy, though. It might work for a campaign or a crisis management response, but it won’t hold any validity for the long-term. Only honest, organic transparency will last.
What does this mean?
Remember that person you want others to think you are? Remember that company you want others to think you run? BE it. Holding up the façade won’t work in the 21st century. People are smart. They know how to see through the pretty picture you are holding up and find out what other people think about you.
This is where a social media strategy pays in spades. When you actively engage people in the digital world, you become transparent. If a customer complains and you respond quickly and professionally, people see this. If you ignore the customer or respond poorly, even more people see this… And post it everywhere. Then, when the next potential customer hears about you and does a little detective work, they see it, too. And you’re done.
By being aware of how the web can help and hurt you, it becomes easier to develop a strategy to excel in the digital world. And when you are doing the right things, there is no need to be afraid of transparency.