Nine less common ways to increase transparency through social media

Social media is a great marketing tool that can catapult a business or brand to success if you know how to use it to its full potential. When you take advantage of all the useful tools that social media platforms have to offer and understand how to strategize the content you share, it can be the best and least expensive way to reach a large portion of your target customers.

The Business Journals

There are several ways for businesses to use social media to increase transparency, many of which are still uncommon. If you know what they are, you can make the most of your social media pages. To provide some of these lesser-known secrets to success, nine members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss various ways that professionals and brands can use social media to increase transparency.

1. Focus social media content around FAQs.
Focus your social media content around your frequently asked questions. Be proactive in answering your customer’s questions before they even ask. This will help you educate your audience and draw them closer to you so that you can build engagement with them. Also, a great byproduct is that sometimes this will uncover another level of customer misunderstandings that you can address to increase conversion. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

2. Capitalize on negative reviews by owning up.
Positive reviews on Facebook and other platforms can help build your credibility, however, negative reviews can have a huge impact on the perception of your brand as well as your ability to compete for new business. The most reputable brands capitalize on negative reviews as an opportunity to take ownership and turn detractors into raving fans, and prospective customers will always take notice. – Melea McRae, Crux KC

3. Use social media to highlight successes.
Social media can have positive and negative implications. An organization should use social media to highlight company successes. This is great exposure for an organization. Potential clients may be looking at this when considering you for a contract they are procuring. On the negative side, spotlighting key staff successes provides an opportunity for competitors to poach your resources. – Jerry Ramos, Ramos Consulting, LLC

4. Show behind-the-scenes company culture.
A brand can use social media to show the behind-the-scenes of how it operates, share employee highlights and talk about company culture. This can help increase transparency and show authenticity. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Communicate clearly with customers.
Increased transparency helps to drive successful communication. When an organization is communicating clearly with their customers on a public platform, others are able to view that information as well. This creates a culture of transparency within and outside of the organization, giving future customers an opportunity to see what is really inside. – Mackenzie Toland, A New Leaf Therapeutic Services PLLC

6. Cross-market with partners and community.
One way to use social media to increase transparency is to cross-market with partners. Once you start that conversation and dialogue on social media, connecting with partners and your community, your followers will better understand who you spend your time with and your “why.” When you cross-market across partners and platforms, you amplify your effect and your message to both audiences. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting

7. Promote employee-generated content.
Use social media to promote employee-generated content. Videos on TikTok and Instagram, for example, can really help to give potential employees and customers an authentic glimpse into your culture. – Kenneth Bowles, WilsonHCG

8. Be vulnerable and share personal stories.
Social media provides an opportunity for business owners to be vulnerable and really share their story — the good and the bad. When transparency is present, it is relatable and people respect it and are able to feel connected to you. When someone feels connected, they tend to be more open to listening and supporting whatever it is you are doing. It can be uncomfortable, yet so rewarding. – Amber Duncan, Jackie

9. Release statements and interact directly.
In times of crisis, social media can be a powerful tool. Brands can use social media to release statements, which allows a large portion of their customer base to stay in the know. They can also use social platforms to interact directly with customers who are affected by the crisis. Consider social media an effective community management platform, not just a photo-sharing app. – Lauren Reed, Reed Public Relations

15 ways to become a more transparent leader (and better inspire your team)

The role of a leader isn’t simply to drive profit and give orders to subordinates. A strong leader can inspire enthusiasm and loyalty in their teams, driving passion for the company’s product or service.

However, this inspiration can rarely grow in the dark; rather, a leader must make a point of working and communicating with transparency. To help, the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share 15 concrete steps you can take to become a more transparent leader.

1. Get to know your staff as individuals.
Get to know your staff. Talk to them. Learn about their needs and desires regarding their careers. These are the individuals who are working hard every day to make your company successful. If they feel connected to you, they will usually feel like you are a transparent leader. – Karen Barbee, Renaissance Wellness Services, LLC

2. Share video messages.
During this time of remote work, I’ve added regular “Happy Friday” videos to my communication routine. Seeing my face and hearing my voice with an update on the week and specifics about what is happening has kept the team connected. It has helped to reinforce stability and consistency in a world that has been lacking both this last year. – Jon Schram, The Purple Guys

3. Create a safe space for sharing.
It’s important to create a safe space for employees to share about themselves. I like to share with my team, too, about the coaching and leadership development I’m doing. It’s a way to foster a culture of constant growth and vulnerability. – Jenn Kenning, Align Impact

4. Seek your team’s help with reaching specific goals.
Share your goals and your progress toward them. Succinctly and directly describe the information or help that you seek, and ask if the team can assist. Make sure your team members understand how they connect to your goals. This not only improves transparency but also makes a more direct connection between you and your team. – Matthew Johnston, Design Interactive Inc.

5. Discuss both business issues and personal milestones in regular meetings.
Within our monthly meetings, we very candidly discuss the health of the business. If there are problems, we talk about them during these meetings because it takes everyone to contribute. In these monthly meetings we also feature employee awards, new clients, birthdays and work anniversaries. Additionally, we hold quarterly meetings — we call these vision meetings, and they’re in a Q&A style. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group

6. Hold a debriefing session after major projects.
Gather input from all participants. Celebrate the successes and commit to making changes, if warranted, in the future. I feel that by doing this we all have the closure we need and are ready to tackle the next project that comes along. – Jim Lane, Lane Technology Solutions

7. Admit it when you fail.
From the outside, many corporate leaders seem as if they can do no wrong. Bring in the human emotion. The experience of sharing failure opens the connection between leadership and staff and encourages everyone to always strive for the best, knowing things may not always go to plan. People always see (or assume) success; they rarely get to know about what didn’t go according to plan. – Joseph Princz, Wrecking Ball

8. Share the whole truth.
Some senior management staff can’t seem to let go of the thought that star team members bail at the first indication of trouble. They are wrong. Do you know who actually bails on a struggling company? Star performers who feel misled, lied to or powerless to know what is really going on. Good leaders understand that. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales

9. Let people know who you really are.
There is a lot of talk about being vulnerable, which I translate to people really knowing who you are as a leader. Too often in business, we try to project an image of something we are not — or aren’t yet — and it comes across as either inauthentic or intimidating. If you are open with your employees on what challenges you and the company are facing, they will return the favor in kind. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

10. Share the projects you’re working on.
I and all my team members share all of our projects via a shared document. We all know what each person is accountable for and what projects they’re working on. We are working partly remotely and partly in the office, so we have a 9 a.m. Zoom meeting each weekday. We go down our list of what we are working on to keep everybody in the loop on progress. – Jean-Paul Gedeon, JPG MEDIA

11. Respect your team’s competency and capabilities.
Sharing goals, progress and results with your team will allow them to better support the business’s success. Communication on how projects are progressing, whether verbal or through reports and a dashboard, lets the team know you trust them to move the business forward. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting

12. Encourage cross-departmental meetings.
Invite team members from different departments to sit in on one another’s meetings. It showcases what everyone is working on and how their work plays a role in overall company goals. It also alleviates doubts about each other’s competency and shows support for different departments. This kind of interactivity not only creates camaraderie between silos but also eliminates companywide rumors and gossip. – Jeffrey Bartel, Hamptons Group, LLC

13. Discuss yearly or quarterly goals, then report on progress.
Transparency in sharing upfront goals for the year or quarter and reporting back on progress at the end of the timeline shows that the executive team is accountable. Further, it encourages employees to adopt that same behavior. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

14. Never sugarcoat the state of the company.
A step to becoming a more transparent leader is to not have secrets and to not sugarcoat the state of the organization. Keeping your employees informed and aware of your company’s situation will allow them to be well-prepared and not surprised by situations. This will make them more likely to be helpful problem-solvers. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting

15. Share your calendars.
This may seem trivial, but my entire team shares all the details of their calendars with the entire team. We share when we are working out, going to the dentist or getting a manicure — it’s important for my team to see me as a real human and to see each other as spouses, friends and mothers. I expect my team to take care of themselves, and I lead by example. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners

In-House Transparency: 13 Pros And Cons Of Full Disclosure

In House Transparency

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: January 31, 2019

We’re all aware of the importance of transparency in marketing, especially when targeting younger demographics. People want to align not only with your company’s brand, but also your ethos and mission. Lately, the conversation about transparency has turned inward, with some agencies giving their team members full disclosure of the company’s financial well-being, such as revenue, profit and loss, and so on.

We asked 13 members of Forbes Agency Council to share their own transparency experiences, including if they have taken the transparency approach and are still implementing it or if they implemented it and then chose to stop. Read on for the pros and cons of how in-house transparency impacted their business and culture below.

In House Transparency

1. There’s No Reason To Hide Profit

“Transparency” is too often a buzzword agencies say, but don’t honor. We are an open book. Every budget we send to clients has a line that says “Agency Profit.” Not only does our team have full disclosure on what we make, but so do our clients. There isn’t a business in the world that doesn’t exist to make money, so why hide it from anyone? Our clients love it, and our employees love it. There’s nothing to hide. – Lucas Miller, Shop Marketing and Creative Group

2. Open Communication Informs Better Decisions

We have found it important to provide a certain level of transparency to our employees when it comes to our financial success. We set targets at the beginning of the year, communicate them broadly to the employee base and then provide updates on a quarterly basis. This helps get everyone focused on owning the year with us and making decisions in the business from an informed perspective. – Chris Cavanaugh, Freeman

3. Careful Consideration Is Needed

We have yet to implement this, but we’re thinking about it. Younger professionals appreciate openness and function better knowing how they fit into the business model. If finances are tight, the concern is that it may cause panic among good employees to jump ship. However, if profit is strong then it is easier for employees to understand their value and how they fit into that success. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing + Partnerships

4. Share What The Team Will Benefit From Knowing

We have practiced pretty radical transparency with our finances at times in the past. The result is that team members, particularly younger ones with less work experience, totally freaked out. It added stress to their lives. I’m the business owner, so I’m expected to lose sleep sometimes, but not everyone needs to join me. Now I just let them know what they need to know so there are no surprises. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

5. Transparency Fosters Trust

Prioritizing transparency and integrity internally leads to growth, both because customers see they can trust you to help grow their business, but also because it leads to more engaged, productive and effective employees. We share our financial goals and progress monthly so that our entire team can rally around them. When everyone is aware, involved and invested it leads to success. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

6. Sharing Finances Means Sharing Impact

In 2018 we transitioned to greater financial transparency. We shared revenue and profitability goals at the company and team level. At the six-month update, people seemed gratified to witness the impact their work had made. After the meeting, a junior planner pulled me aside to tell me that seeing the numbers on the page really made her feel that her individual effort had made a big difference. – Joanne McKinney, Burns Group

7. Transparency Goes Two Ways

We subscribe to full transparency and commit to the highest level of trust with the entire team. Giving that level of trust results in getting that same level of trust and respect back. When that kind of trust is inherent to your culture, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. And you can more effectively deal with the challenges when everyone is aware and working together toward the common goal. – Lori Paikin, NaviStone®

8. Employees Earn Their Way Inside

We incentivize employees with a 10% net bonus on any new business they personally secure. If they bring in an account they get to see all expenses related to running that business, so when we write them the big year-end bonus check they know the amount is legit. Writing a fat check to someone who deserves it is my favorite thing in this business. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding

9. Profits Are Better When Everyone Shares In Them

We are a fully transparent company. I believe it’s one of the reasons we’ve grown so quickly. Our internal mission is to be the best-paying boutique agency for the information technology industry. When everyone knows the revenue and profit targets they can see that when they are hit, they get better pay and it gets us closer to achieving our internal mission. Profits and work quality have never been better. – Giovanni Sanguily, TRIdigital Marketing

10. Complete Accountability Fosters Communication And Ownership

When companies make the change and open themselves to complete communication and accountability it changes the way that people communicate as well as the attention that they pay to their jobs. What it means is that there is a complete change in the way that companies relate to employees, and employees act like owners and not like those who simply work there. It is also a way to start a dialog. – Jon James, Ignited Results

11. Sharing Gets You Rowing In The Same Direction

Sharing financials and company goals is important to ensure everyone is aligned and sets their sights on the same targets. If all don’t have access, you won’t be rowing in the same direction. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

12. Sharing Opens A Channel To Address Concerns

The executive board hosts a companywide meeting at the beginning of every month to review numbers, goals, problems and successes. During this time of transparency, we talk through any questions or concerns our team may have, providing the response direct from the source and limiting any false speculation. This practice leads to a greater understanding of the business and minimal water cooler talk. – Jason Kulpa, UE.co

13. Tie Your Company’s Financial Goals To Employee Bonuses

About three years ago we started sharing our financial goals, our profits and our “numbers” as often as possible with our employees. That was a deliberate, and critical, shift. We tied our company’s financial goals to individual employees’ bonuses, so our goals are now their goals. When we win, they win. The result? We’re all moving in the same direction. – Matt Moore, OH Partners