When it comes to earning trust and rapport (which is pretty critical in business) publicly being your true self is key! Transparency in business helps people know both your strengths and your faults. This will also help people see that you are human, and make you far more relatable! Honestly, openly admitting your faults just increases your potential and current clients’ trust! But, is there a point at which you can be too transparent?
Different Ways to Be Transparent
Pat Flynn and Jon Lee Dumas are notorious for their transparency, even going so far as to post monthly income statements. You might argue that when you’re making the kind of money they do (6+ figures each month) it’s easy to share—perhaps even inspirational. But it could also be off-putting. In this case, though, it works to attract the exact audience they are after and widdle away individuals that would not fall under their “ideal customer” umbrella. Frankly, that is, after all, the whole point of marketing!
If publicly sharing your monthly income statements is not your cup of tea, perhaps take one of these routes instead. Share struggles with alcoholism, depression, cancer, and other health concerns. Stories of marriage and relationship triumphs (and tragedies) are also great! Even spats between competing businesses aren’t off-limits for some marketers. (We saw this with Kind and Cliff Bars a couple of years ago… and it did not hurt Kind at all!)
Sharing these types of more personal (human) stories helps you to be publicly honest without being frank about all areas of your life and business. With a little forethought and planning, you can keep certain aspects of your story private.
Watch Your Social Media Profiles
Here’s where a lot of business owners falter, especially when it comes to Facebook. You have your personal profile, to which you invite friends and family, and your business page, where you talk, well, business.
But there will inevitably be some overlap. Colleagues will slowly filter into your personal timeline, and you into theirs. Pretty soon, your business people are hearing all about your latest bout with the flu and that snarky thing your mother in law said yesterday. Or worse — your political opinions! Too much? Maybe.
When it comes to your social media sharing, it is important to pay close attention to not only what you say, but who you are saying it to. Using privacy settings, contact lists, and even limiting who you “friends” can help maintain your privacy while still being transparent about your business offerings.
Remember, the Internet is Forever
While privacy settings can help, a better way to keep your personal business away from prying eyes is to simply not post it at all. But how can you determine what is post appropriate or not? Think of every blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update,Instagram pic, and TikTok video as a billboard! If you would not post it on the side of the highway for all who pass to read it, do not post it online either. The chance that it will “leak” (despite your best efforts) is great, and once it’s out there, you will not ever get it back.
So think twice about those nasty replies, intimate details, and other confidential information. You just never know who might be reading, and they will affect your brand image.
Final Thoughts about Transparency in Business
The bottom line? Know your audience and know yourself. If you are not comfortable sharing certain aspects of your life and business, chances are they will not be comfortable hearing about it, either. Similarly, if you ARE comfortable sharing the details and you lose some following, that group of people are likely not your target audience anyway! Which again, is in fact, the point of marketing — attracting the ideal customer and not wasting time on the not-so-ideal! That said, it is okay to maintain some privacy, even in this transparent world of online marketing.