Transparency: The Foundation of Business Blogging and Social Media in General
It has often been argued that the true value of social networking, whether in blogging, Facebook, consumer generated content, Twitter, or otherwise, lies in the transparency it brings between you and your audience. That is especially true if your ultimate goal is in building long term relationships with your customers, partners, vendors, or employees.
As technologies that are now considered cutting-edge become main stream, and as Millennials, with their reputation for being fully connected and passionate, begin to overtake Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers in numbers, a tremendous opportunity presents itself in the form of Social Media. Exactly how are Millennials staying connected? Are they reading newspapers or are they reading blogs and other forms of Social Media?
For employees, partners, and customers alike, transparency provides clarity behind the direction of your company and your brand. For employees, it’s a constant reminder of why they come to work each day. For customers, it answers the all important question “Why should I stay”?
Web 2.0 has provided a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. It allows for real people to connect with others – in vibrant and open discussions about what interests them most. Gone are the days of hiding behind the corporate brand. With transparency comes trust. It is your opportunity to display your company’s human side and begin building a direct dialog with customers.
Developing a Social Media strategy means adapting to change and understanding that your brand is now in the hands of forces outside of your control, meaning it’s in the hands of your consumers.
As you begin to develop a Social Media strategy, there are several important principals to keep in mind:
- Know your audience: Are they customers, employees, industry veterans, or colleagues?
- Give more than you receive: Blogging is about the sharing of information.
- Always place the needs of your customers first.
- Admit when you’ve a mistake: Your customers will respect you for it.
- Work with customers to improve your product and your brand.
- Don’t be afraid to show your weaknesses as well as your strengths.
- Reveal your true corporate identity: in the form of your product, your services, and your employees.
Social Media is a whole new ballgame. If the goal is to display authenticity, you can’t address your audience through a corporate filter. They want to know the real you. This is your chance to talk openly and honestly with them. It is the perfect opportunity to expose the people and the vision behind your name.
So, whether you’re just getting your feet wet by posting comments on blogs or on Facebook, or are diving right in and starting a blog of your own, the easiest places to start are in answering some of the following questions:
- What makes you proud to be sitting where you are today?
- What is your story?
- How about your winery’s story?
- Who are your customers and what motivates them?
- Social media presents a tremendous opportunity to learn, both from the good news and the bad.
From Jonathan Schwartz’s (CEO of Sun Microsystems) blog: “Sunlight’s not just a great disinfectant, it’s a wonderful safety net, too - you can’t fix the problems you don’t know about. But once you know about a problem, even small attempts to help, multiplied over the long tail of the internet, can make an extraordinary difference.”