This week, our course module discussed some core concepts in social media usage – interactivity, transparency, authenticity and engagement. While we are required to post group discussions relating to interactivity and engagement, our blog activity for this week is to discuss the importance of transparency in social media. I searched through a number of websites, mostly blogs, and Wayne Sutton’s “Transparency in social media. Do you trust me?” caught my attention.
In his article, Wayne talks about the meaning of transparency in its traditional sense as well as the social media buzzword. The key factor here is trust – about being upfront, building trusting relationships and maintaining credibility. The internet has many, many articles that discuss the importance of transparency in social media but two things really stood out for me in this posting. Wayne points out that people with a big audience base will probably have brands establishing relationships with them to tap into those audiences. While he leaves it up to the person to determine how they want to let their audience know, Wayne suggests being honest and upfront about the relationship. He then goes on to give cases that he is/was involved in.
Something else that made this article stand out from the others was that Wayne incorporated brightkite and twitter responses from his question “Why is transparency in social media important to you?”. One of those responses pointed out that social media networking is interesting because building trust leads to more connections and more interest in sharing with others. I agree with this response. Setting aside the offline and online factor, if we look at simple relationship-building, we often start from no relationship to meeting someone and talking about basic and random pleasantries. When we find a common connection and comfort level with the other person, we try to introduce more facts and ideas about ourselves and learn more about the other person. By gradually sharing more about each other, we have hopefully developed a mutual trust that leads to a stronger desire to connect and continue to share. Some organizations may hope that this eventually leads to a sale or long-term sales, while other organizations may be looking foster a relationship with supporters and/or donors.
On an individual level, bloggers may be looking to connect with a community or other users (like myself) may simply be looking for friendship. What is your purpose? Obviously we eventually get to the point that where we need to determine how “transparent” we are willing to be. How much information are you comfortable and willing to give out? At what point does one need to step back and weigh the benefits against the dangers of being too transparent? This is probably when the answer to the purpose of your social media usage and the type of relationship that you want to foster comes into play.
The idea of being transparent or open and where one sets their boundaries brought the following photos to mind. At the end of my 2008 Australia trip, my friends took me to Din Tai Fung, a restaurant that had just opened a Sydney location earlier that year.
From my recollection, there were already other locations opened all over Asia and parts of the States. This was the first one in Sydney. We arrived later in the evening and had to wait at least half an hour if not 45 minutes for our table. Although the waiting area was outside the restaurant, one of their exterior walls had a large glass window so we could look into their kitchen.
The view was limited to a big table where several people were standing there making dumplings. While we did not get to see the rest of the kitchen, watching them flatten the dough, add the meat filling and wrap the dumplings with the even folds was interesting on its own. I stood there for a long time just to watch how effortlessly the dumplings were churned out before placing them in the steamer. (I should mention it is always easier seen than done!)
For me, it added to the anticipation of my food and made the longer wait time acceptable. Check out the final products … yummy!