Why is transparency so important in Social Media?

It’s the same reason why we tell our children not to lie.  It’s human. It’s in our DNA; and unless you’re a habitual liar, you practice transparency everyday in your personal relationships. Why should it change on the social web?

I just got off the phone with Wailin Wong, who is a Technology Reporter at the Chicago Tribune.  She is starting a new column at the on social media/networking and we had a brief discussion today about the importance of honesty and transparency in the social web (I’ll link to the column when it is live). My brief response – since our call only lasted about 15 minutes – was as follows, and I am going of off memory here:

The concept of social media is not new. By nature we are social in the way we interact in our daily relationships with our friends, colleagues and loved ones.  And generally, in those relationships we do not lie or deceive because nine times out of ten people get caught. Personally, I think lying is wrong; and it also has a tendency of pissing people off.  This valuable life lesson should also be practiced in social media. For those companies that choose to ignore the simple concept of “transparency” can find that their company or brand will indeed go viral but not with the message they were intending. Social media is an opportunity for companies to represent themselves as real people and build real relationships others. Consumers (and I hate that word) can relate to people much more effectively than they can a logo or brand.

About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

  • Jen Harris

    Transparency is key to a new way of living, doing business & as we are going to soon find out: how the government is going to be run. No one can hide from the truth, too many avenues to find the truth, so you might as well lay it down while you can before someone else does!

  • http://www.davidbrim.org David Brim

    Transparency and disclosure have always been a part of any health relationship. However in today’s digital age where information spreads so quickly those principles are essential. As a company or individual if you do not disclose yourself properly somebody else will. What’s done in the dark will eventually come to light.

    There are many time when companies or people are transparent and they still get hit hard. All it takes is a funny compilation video on youtube, or a comical “Top Ten Reasons I Hate (Brand)” to have it go viral and taint your brand in the minds of your “consumers” (I know you don’t like that term Michael). At least if you were honest & transparent from the beginning you will have more respect & be more believable than if you were exposed. You can’t please everybody, but if your presence online & off is built on trust you can at least be respected and viewed as genuine.

    Great seeing you in Vegas for BlogWorld Michael… Hope all is well in Sunny San Fran!

  • http://www.yomi11.com olatokunbo gbolade

    well it probably is a good idea if everyone practiced what they preached,businesss would be booming,but with the bailout syndrome and everything else apparently they don,t.

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    A little bit of both can’t really hurt you, there are some things you don’t want the public to know especially on the age of constant spamming.

  • http://www.trishjones.com Trish Jones

    It’s all about maintaining integrity and abusers will get caught.

    it’s also much harder to re-build credibility than it is to build it in the first place so, why not build on a solid foundation rather than paper mache.

    Your point about the real person behind the brand is soo true. I so try with some small businesses to get them away from building this huge company image when there is “one” of them! And then you say things like “check out Tom Peters blog and see how personal he gets.”

    The response is usually “Oh, but that’s Tom Peters!” The truth is, he doesn’t try to be anyone other than who he is, so why should anyone else.

  • Judith

    Michael, you need a proof reader.

  • http://www.sonnygill.com Sonny Gill

    Great simple advice that most companies should learn and preach within their culture. It’s unfortunate when some companies are afraid to let go of that control and show everyone for what they’re worth but it’s either show that transparency or like you said, be viral for all the wrong reasons.

  • http://www.britopian.com Michael Brito


    Really? What’s the issue?

  • http://www.market-interactif.com lionel

    Well, for a company transparency rimes with trust, and as a marketer who I am, trust rimes with sales. Social Media helps companies to appear more human, and this engage trust, or partial trust.

  • http://www.chicagotribune.com Wailin Wong

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the mention and for leaving a comment on the story! Look forward to continued conversation…

  • http://ProfitFromSocialNetworks.com Ben

    Transparency is so important because trust is the foundation of every major institution. From love to law and economics, nothing good happens without trust.

    The Economic Pearl Harbor (Warren Buffets words) that we are in is because lending institutions lost trust in the securities they were buying and selling because there was very little transparency on how they were formed.

    Well written post. I didn’t notice any errors.

  • http://tastynectar.com/blog Brett Tilford

    I completely agree that the core value of transparency is natural in our other relationships and should have been apart of the business world all along.

    @Ben Good insight about Warren Buffet’s thoughts on the current crisis.

  • http://www.msit-edu.com David

    Transparency is need in all sphere of live to make a good impact and gain trust on moral grounds to keep going and flourish in life

  • eMarketing Expert

    WOW Top Internet Marketing, Social Media and Online Business Books you should have read but haven’t yet: http://htxt.it/87m0