Transparency has become a key focus in the digitally connected era. From political debates, and the divide over ‘fake news’, to influencer marketing and the promotion of products online - as more people are given more outlets to share whatever they want with their audience, more questions are rightfully raised as to the honesty and trustworthiness of any claims or endorsements made through such process.
Given this, it’s no surprise that research indicates consumers are becoming increasingly wary of online claims, and that there’s a rising demand for transparency in digital advertising. Underlining this, Sprout Social recently surveyed 1,000 consumers to get some insights into “their beliefs, expectations and desires on the role of transparency in business today”.
Their findings are relevant for all digital marketers – here’s a summary of Sprout’s full report, which you can access here.
First off, consumers expect increased brand transparency on social, a channel through which they can communicate and interact in a more responsive way.
The focus here is on Millennial respondents specifically, but really, it's likely indicative. Social media is, after all, ‘social’, and the expectation is that brands will communicate with their audience, and share relevant information as they can – which is not possible through traditional advertising methods.
Yet, at present, most people feel that brands aren’t as open as they could be online.
Brands obviously want to sell their products, and that top line motivator will influence their communication decisions, but the findings here suggest that consumers want more openness, more communication, as opposed to businesses simply using social as another broadcast channel for their ads.
Indeed, when asked, specifically, which areas consumers expect more transparency from brands, ‘admitting mistakes’ and offering honest responses were the top two responses, by a significant margin.
That points to a key tenet of evolving customer service practice – rather than hoping bad news will simply go away, brands should take the time to answer for their mistakes, and provide a more human response, especially via social channels.
That, again, aligns with the more ‘social’ elements of ‘social media’, and by utilizing that capacity, businesses can increase their community standing, and enhance audience connection.
There’s a heap more insights in the full Sprout report, but the findings essentially underline the need for brands to consider how they interact with their audiences, taking more of a human, social approach, as opposed to traditional brand communications.
You can download the full Sprout Social ‘Social Media and the Evolution of Transparency’ report here.