Content marketing continues to grow more difficult. We are overwhelmed with information in today’s digitally driven world. As a result, this digital revolution has made competition among news sources, businesses, and the media even more fierce.

In the fight for a piece of the mass media pie to gain the attention of consumers and audiences, there have been some negative repercussions: privacy breaches, fake news, and other scandals from some of the biggest names in business. Take, for example, the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook debacle that came to light earlier this year.

Transparency more important than ever

These events have caused yet another shift in our digital world, particularly surrounding consumer behavior. Recent research from Sprout Social shows that 86% of consumers believe transparency is more important than ever.

This need for transparency stretches far beyond just social media, impacting numerous aspects of marketing, including development roadmaps, collecting and showcasing product ideas feedback, reporting on corporate social responsibility and so on.

Therefore, sales, marketing, and business models that are based on traditional, “impersonal” marketing no longer produce the same results. As a result, many forward-thinking businesses are focusing more on transparent customer-centric strategies as well as establishing and nurturing individual connections with consumers. However, in our modern, multi-faceted omnichannel era, how do businesses effectively reach consumers in a personalized and transparent way, while also optimizing every channel?  Before you get too overwhelmed, a quick Google search will display a wealth of tools and strategies that can help. Many of these tools are designed with features and capabilities to help increase transparency with consumers.

Social transparency tools and strategies

In this article, we will review a few of these tools and strategies, and how your business can effectively leverage them to boost your customer-centric strategy and increase transparency.

1. Trello Public Roadmaps

Did you know that Trello, the visual task management and project management tool is also designed with features to help increase transparency? This feature is known as Public Roadmaps, and it has proven to help businesses show their users and customers what projects and developments are in progress.

How it works: Trello’s Public Roadmaps allow businesses to engage with the public, community and get input from users particularly around what your business is working on in terms of product development and improvements. The Public Roadmaps feature is also a great way to keep your user base up to date and informed of new product releases, issues, developments, and improvements. Trello also has some power-up features that make their public roadmap boards even more helpful, such as the card voting one whereby your customers can vote on which features they want to see the most.

Trello’s Public Roadmaps

2. Aha!

Aha! is another social transparency tool that promotes crowdsourced feature ideation. Its public roadmapping feature allows project managers and product development team members to get and share ideas to and from their communities. It is also designed to help streamline projects and tasks as well as product strategy with one comprehensive tool.

Aha! can also be integrated with other agile project management tools, developer tools, and issue tracker tools, such as Jira.

How it works: If your business has spent countless hours creating a public roadmap for each of your stakeholders in tools such as Google Docs, Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint, Aha! Makes the process more straightforward. You can quickly and easily build a features Roadmap by choosing the features, releases, or product lines you want to include and customize the details.

How does it differ from Trello? While Trello is a great all-around project management tool, that happens to do product roadmaps quite nicely, Aha! is specifically built for roadmaps. As such, it has more powerful functionality. If you have someone at your organization dedicated to just manage a product roadmap, then Aha! may scale better with your needs.

3. Instagram Paid Partnerships tool

Instagram has recognized the need to make the platform more accessible and more transparent for users and brands alike. As a result, the Paid Partnerships feature was born. This tool is designed to increase transparency and consistency to branded content on the platform.

How it works: When a user posts content that correlates with a particular brand, the Paid Partnerships tool makes this visible to users on the platform. Partner brands also have real-time access to data and analytics on specific tagged posts. This strategy strengthens the influencer relationship between user and brand, and also increases transparency among other users.

4. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) web pages

In today’s “green” society, more and more consumers respect and trust brands that assume corporate social responsibility towards a more sustainable environment.

However, if your company offers a service rather than a product, you can build CSR pages on your website dedicated to critical corporate social responsibility projects and initiatives. CSR pages are still an effective way to increase social transparency.

How it works: Designing and building a web page and adding it to your “About” section of your website is a great way to tell your target audience, customers, and the world about what your company is doing to help contribute to a more sustainable society. Check out this great example of a CSR page.

You can also share your CSR page on social media to help get the word out about what your company is up to and how your company is contributing to social responsibility.

5. Certified B Corporation profiles

Certified B Corporations are those organizations or businesses that use business as a force of good. These businesses engage in efforts related to verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. By becoming a certified B Corp, your business is joining the cultural shift towards redefining success in business.

How it works:
By becoming a certified B Corp and developing a B Corp profile is a great way to increase trust and transparency for your audience.

Certified B Corporation profiles

source: Modern Species B Impact Report Page

Multi-faceted transparency in modern marketing

All in all, social transparency is “in” among customers and audiences alike. Big businesses and brands that do not actively engage with customers and the public and do note make a valiant effort to become transparent, risk becoming obsolete — as well as their bottom lines. In fact, studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the lack of social transparency and a business’ bottom line. Even if your company doesn’t yet have a public roadmap, or is still in the process of defining your CSR or becoming a certified B Corp, there are still other ways you can increase transparency.

For example, merely admitting mistakes or errors and practicing honesty are considered the best forms of transparency. In fact, a study of over 1,000 adults indicated that 61% considered admitting mistakes to be a high-level form of transparency, with honesty coming in second at 58%.

It’s true that modern marketing is multi-faceted, but transparency and honesty are at its core. This is the result of an evolved customer journey that requires many personalized touch points along the way. Adopting a transparent, customer-centric business model and strategy is the best way to build trust with audiences and establish connections with long-term, loyal customers.

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