The ever-turbulent world of social media seems to have one constant — the transparency debate. The problem with much of our society is we’re trend-driven, acting on emotion instead of timeless, pragmatic principles. Rather than carefully monitoring trends, doing the research and extracting from them what works, a lot of us jump right in. Strategy needs to be thought through, not trendily executed. Many seem insistent on total transparency, without heeding caution to consequences of “loose tweets, sink fleets.” PR and communication is, and always will be, an art of tightrope, even when everyone’s pulling their pants down for the world to see — and in many cases, sinking their fleets and lifeboats as a result. The argument isn’t whether transparency is good; it’s about how much, when, where, and why.
The Good, the Bad, and the Irresponsible
The move towards a more transparent, communicative world is good and effective in many cases, but the rush to total transparency should be re-evaluated. Healthy or responsible transparency doesn’t mean giving the whole farm away. It doesn’t mean broadcasting every mistake and looking unprofessional when there’s no need to — or when the admittance serves no purpose, other than to look dumb. Responsible transparency also doesn’t allow for giving away proprietary methods or time-sensitive strategy.
True total (irresponsible) transparency means:
- Constant public broadcasting of mistakes (appearing incompetent and overdone – “see, look what we did wrong, again!”)
- Inability to devise and execute strategy (too late, it’s already been tweeted)
- Too much noise and a chaotic, confused company voice (let RELEVANT info rule, keep the rest to yourself)
- Inability to innovate and patent products and services (one of your followers got the unauthorized tweet and patented the idea first)
Measured (responsible) transparency means:
- Honesty instead of cover-ups when the company SHOULD fess-up (thus salvaging the company’s image and satisfying the customer)
- Better personalizing of a company and better engagement with its customers
- A consistently relevant company voice (people will actually CARE when the company speaks)
- Releasing new products and services information in strategic timing for effective campaigns, (disallowing unscrupulous competitors from stealing ideas)
The Pragmatic Approach
While social media has changed the way we communicate, maintaining control over one’s actions, thoughts, and image has — and always will be — paramount to healthy international relations, corporate affairs, and overall living. This is a timeless principle — look at the trouble people get into on social networks for revealing too much. Everyone has their moments, but only the naive share them all. The important thing to know is what information is good to share, and what is not. Every tweet and post is valuable, so only speak of what should be spoken of. It’s all about measured transparency… a disciplined PR strategy.
So I ask the reader — with all the hype about revealing SO MUCH of our lives, isn’t it time to examine what we’re REALLY doing with our info? When and what should we NOT reveal?
Photo credit, top image: depositphotos.com