Social Transparency 2020

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Why PR is Actually A Leadership Position - Ronn TorossianRonn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

Social media and transparency are cornerstones of younger generations and are key to success for businesses wishing to cultivate and appeal to millennials and Gen Zer’s. Yet, only 15% of folks surveyed by Sprout Social, a social media management company, feel brands are transparent on social media.

Of seven categories polled, 81% said they expected companies to be transparent on social media, an even higher expectation than that for politicians, who came in second at 79%.  CEOs were fourth at 75%.

Brands that jump on transparency in their social media sooner than later have a good opportunity to nurture and capture a bigger share of the younger market. The same survey revealed that 53% of respondents said they would consider purchasing a different brand the next time around if it was transparent. Another 37% said they would purchase more from companies that are transparent on social media.

An analysis of U.N. data by Bloomberg revealed that these two generations were collectively  expected to make up more than 63% of the world’s population by the end of 2019. The Label Insight Food Revolution Study found that 73% of customers said they were even willing to pay more for goods that guaranteed transparency. Further study results report that 86% of those surveyed said they’d probably take their business to a competitor if their brand wasn’t transparent on social media.     

Other Findings and Tips

Sprout Social’s study also revealed some other surprises. With customers surveyed, the leading topic that they felt displayed a brand’s transparency on social media was admitting to mistakes. That was closely followed by honest answers to consumer questions (58%), pricing for products and/or services (45%,) and manufacturing process (43%). 

When asked about the kind of issues respondents wanted companies to be transparent about on social media, consumers had an even longer list of priorities. Tied at the top with 53% each were  product/service charges and company values. The latter should be a huge signal for companies considering brand activism.

These were followed by business practices (50%), company policy changes (49%), employment practices (46%), pricing decisions (43%), marketing practices (41%), and diversity and inclusion (40%).

When it came to most favored media to display transparency, video was clearly at the top with 67% among respondents. Text was a distant second at 23%, with photos and GIFs even further behind.

Besides adopting the ideas above, leaders of companies seeking to capture the younger markets by being transparent need to truly lead by example. CEOs should also be on social media and encourage followers, including employees, to become ambassadors. 

Concretely, 63% of those surveyed felt that CEOs with a presence on social media are better representatives of their firms than those who aren’t. Another 32% said that alone would motivate them to buy more from that company.

The survey reported that CEOs with a social media presence are 39% more accessible and approachable. It also revealed that these CEOs are viewed as being more human (37%), honest (29%), trustworthy (28%) and authentic (27%).

Finally, as David Steinberg of Zeta Global notes, companies and CEOs that adopt transparency in social media should also be prepared to welcome and be responsive to consumer feedback, both good and bad. Generating more exposure and beginning to foster more trust is but the first step. Without nurturing and stewarding this key public, any trust gained can also be lost very quickly.