Today, as in all aspects of life, but especially in social media transparency is incredibly important, but also an emerging issue in this largely unpoliced social media domain. I think it’s safe to say that the days of having an online persona and a real life persona are long gone. We are now into an era where online and offline personalities are blending into one and transparency is vital every step of the way, particularly in the realm of Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter etc… Whether you are a corporate brand, a small business or a self- promoter being transparent is imperative to building trusting and lasting relationships. Organizations that use social media are marketing, yes, but the point of social media is to create strong relationships that could eventually turn into customer loyalty.
Here is an example to put this into perspective. Imagine that your significant other promises to take the dog for a walk, you come home that evening and hear “yeah we had a great walk” but then later you find out that the dog never left the house (most likely because the poor dog is peeing on the carpet!). How would you feel? Betrayed? Lied to? The same goes for social media. If you make a mistake admit it, maybe a few people will feel let down but in the long run your fans will respect you for your openness and honesty.
Another way to test the level of transparency is to imagine that the person you are replying to or posting about is sitting right beside you. Are you typing the same words you would say if you were looking that person in the eye?
Now that we have established the significance of transparency, let’s take a look at what happens at the other end of the spectrum. In this blog by Jason Falls, he talks about how transparent social media practices can be used for good as well as evil.
Falls’ article goes into what happens when very private information or political opinions are spread on the web, potentially leading to physical harm and even death threats, which leads us to a few thought provoking questions:
What are the limits of transparency? Should manipulation of public information be permitted? Should it be monitored or limited by the government? Do we really want to police the social media sites and how much do we, or even can we, control the ever exponentially expanding domain of social media?
Like everything in life the best thing to do is to find the middle road; a balance that allows corporations, businesses and, of course, yoga teachers to be able to show their personalities and brands online without going overboard. Since social media is still very much a new form of marketing, it’s up to us to decide how transparent we want to be. There really are no concrete rules currently, other than your personal integrity.
Going back to the example of imagining a person sitting next to you while you write your post, would you feel confident in saying what you’re typing? If yes, then you are on the right track towards transparency and if not, examine your motives and remember that once posted or tweeted or pinned, your words and images are scattered into general cyberspace and cannot be retrieved or taken back. See if you can find an alignment with your online persona that matches the real you.
By Danielle Walkow