The Importance of Being Real with Customers

In content marketing, transparency is the new black.

The idea is that by presenting a company at face value and showing a bit of the operation behind the scenes, customers will be more endeared towards it and be able to relate to it.

“Social media has made everything more transparent,” says Doug Schumacher, a Facebook strategist at Zuum. “For brands, I think it’s about adapting to the changing media landscape. If you’re not transparent, you don’t feel relevant.”

The payoff for brands is that they’ll gain a customer’s trust.

“People won’t buy anything from your company unless they trust you,” says Brad Smith, founder of FixCourse. “It might be easy for large, established companies to avoid this because they’ve been around for years and everyone knows them. But small or medium sized companies have to work extremely hard to gain and keep trust.”

Posting pictures of employees and events is one way of working to establish trust, and will likely result in feedback if posted on social media sites.

Starbucks frequently updates its Facebook with photos of baristas at work images that shows employees participating in nonprofit work. On Twitter, McDonald’s employees sign the tweets they send out with their initials to give them a personal touch.

Smith says that brands can also give customers peek into the workings of the company by publishing “team member profiles, conduct(ing) interviews with staff, [and] encourag(ing) employees to write blog posts and participate in social media. The president of the company could hold a monthly Google Hangout for anyone to join, or do a ‘town hall’ style Q&A.”

Domino’s greatly benefited from being open and real with customers when in 2010 they admitted that their product needed improvement and focused a video and social media campaign on fixing it. It posted negative tweets about the product on its site for the campaign called This increased profits by 8% over the course of a year.

“With the rise of social media, it is not hard for prospective customers to quickly learn the truth about your product,” says Marketing Experiment’s Daniel Burstein. “If you openly admit your weaknesses, you may be able to gain their trust. And, ultimately, every sale is an act of trust.”

Customers these days are bombarded by messages from businesses coming at them from all angles: On their cell phones, in their inboxes, and on their social media accounts. Transparency, personality, and being real helps brands stand out among everything and everyone else vying for a customer’s attention.

James Adams of Big Girl Branding emphasizes that being transparent will only help companies in the long run.

“Openness about your successes and failures will inspire your customers to trust you when they see that you do not try to make your business seem better than it really is,” she says. “Just be honest about the condition of your business and you will be surprised at how your customers will respect you for it.”

Image courtesy of Maja H./Shutterstock

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