Growing up was a shocking experience on the whole when compared to the modern era; over-cooked veg, no 24-hour TV and the curtains remained shut to keep the prying eyes of the neighbors out! As my mother would say “you only need to open the curtains of the room you’re happy letting the neighbors see in”. The rest of the house as it happens was a mess she wasn’t prepared to let anybody see.
So when you (or much more likely that new-hire who remains glued to their computer screen bemoaning the internet connection and that they cant access their Facebook account) decide that you want some business transparency as a policy you better watch out. Once you let it out of the bag that actually your business isn’t that squeaky clean on the corporate responsibility front or that you have a supply-chain that your customer could save a packet by going direct, well then you have a problem as well!
The thing is that most businesses should have stapled to the inside of the eye-lids of any would-be transparency champion a note that says “some (a lot) of what we do is commercially sensitive”. Once the cats out you can tick the transparency box and then go directly to a PR company so that you can heal the damage done. The basic commercial functions of your business are just that and not really the stuff of public knowledge because when they are you no longer have a business.
What you really have to remember is just how your company actually makes money. It charges people more than it cost you to either make the thing or provide the service. Profit is a dirty word often confused with Rip-Off in a lot of peoples minds.
Social Media, is not the preserve of the young, tho it may seem so sometimes. Its just that the speed of post often is soooooo much quicker than the speed of the brain thinking through the practical effects of the post made. When you see the very excited face of the (young) person you’ve told to go ahead and implement your new transparency policy through the use of social media you should at that point be warned!
The very first point of call for the would-be transparency champion will be Twitter. Now this might be my age (although I do have a Twitter account that I do use daily) but to be honest it really doesn’t do it for me. Its a way of sending our a message that I’ve posted a new blog post, just like this one. The main reason for Twitter so far as I can see is telling anybody remotely interested about celebrity naughtiness and getting a bunch of Arabs into the local town square. Never mind that its a completely free way of telling the world just what you’re up to, a way of broadcasting to the world in that spirit of transparency that which you don’t actually want the public to know. And its fast, very fast!
Reducing what you have to say to no more than 140 characters would just about give you enough words to explain that you suck the blood of your customers to make money! You could follow a couple of feeds first to see how its done perhaps, but the question you’ll have to ask yourself is “if the feed you’re reading is that good does the company responsible really have that much integrity?”
My advice then is keep a very close eye on what gets posted about your business on social media, its important to be current but not foolish, being foolish is never going to be a trend worth following I think. Keep your corporate responsibility in-line with your business activities and then stamp with ‘Do Not Disturb’ allowing no further access to those interested in transparency.
Transparency therefore is okay when you’re happy with whats on show, the rest however really should stay behind closed curtains.