Transparency on the internet is the difference between free marketing from your patrons and shooting yourself in the foot.
The following lists benefits companies that are transparent reap and simultaneously the areas where companies that are not transparent lose:
- Customer feedback
- Increased awareness
- Low lead/customer acquisition costs
- Search Engine Rankings
Credit: Clayton Mitchell, Social Media Marketing Instructor, BCIT
With the embrace of social media comes the importance of transparency. When companies of any size are consistently transparent on social media, they are actually forging an unbreakable loyalty with their customers.
You can find an excellent example McDonald’s utilizing transparency on social media to the fullest on The Sale’s Lion blog. Marcus states that “[...] we live in an age of marketing where we can bury our head in the sand and act like consumers and customers don’t have questions, doubts, and concerns about our products…or we can have the guts to not only acknowledge these questions, but embrace them as well.”
Social media has created a consumer powered pull system for corporate transparency where as a company if you do not choose to be transparent from the beginning you may have to after learning the hard way.
Have you heard of the company Kashi? Here’s a blurb from their website so you can learn more about them:
We are a small (after 25 years, still fewer than 70 of us) band of passionate people who believe right down to our bones that everyone has the power to make positive changes in their lives. We think getting healthy starts with taking little steps, like choosing healthy all natural foods. Kashi is about embracing and living your best life.
What’s in the name: Kashi, a synthesis of “kashruth” or kosher/pure food and “Kushi,” the last name of the founders of American Macrobiotics.
But did you know that Kashi is actually part of Kellogg? And some of Kashi’s natural products contain genetically modified organisms (GMO)? You wouldn’t know that from their website but you might from their Facebook page as outraged consumers directly voiced their concerns.
Image from: The Rebel Blog
Following the storm of consumer disappointment, Kashi has started a non-GMO cereal project.
As seen in the above Facebook thread, there was also speculation that the pro-Kashi replies were written by Kashi employees. In general, I am not opposed to company employees engaging in or maintaining corporate social media accounts so long as the information is not false or fabricated. And as long as the employee is not claiming to be a unbiased customer. Employees are representatives of the company they work for and ideally are evangelists of the core values of their place of work.
Ultimately, I empathize with companies who fear the possible repercussions of being transparent on social media. But the purpose of social media is to connect with customers in a two-way feedback arrangement. If the company embraces this concept and incorporates it into a well planned marketing strategy, I believe being transparent can be your greatest marketing tool.
Share in the comments links to other transparent food producers. We have the right to choose what we eat!
Here are some resources to check out if you would like to learn more about GMO usage in food:
- Health Canada - regulation of genetically modified food
- Consumers Council of Canada - general information food labelling in Canada
- McDonald’s Our Food Your Questions website