Yep, that was the old bait and switch. This blog isn’t really about the National Championship, but rather about the importance of transparency in a social media strategy. So if you don’t feel duped, read on (I will try and make some references to the football game as we go).

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Transparency is knowing that your product will sell itself once people find out about it. Twitter is one of the biggest offenders for these boiler room tactics. By using hashtags that are trending, many users take advantage of what’s hot at the time to sneak in their agenda. Notice the #Honeybadger tag on the tweets associated with this post. I knew that this would be a trending term after the LSU-Alabama football game (the “honey badger” YouTube video jumped up two million views after the national championship), and included it in the tweet, thus sneaking a social media blog into discussions intended for football. Many rogue marketers come up with tweets and titles just for the purpose of the click. If you have a service that people are searching for, give them the keywords to find it, rather than shrouding it behind what you think people want to click on. The potential customers that are tricked into clicking won’t want your product anyways if they feel they’ve been conned.

Transparency is letting your customer base be honest on your forums (if you allow open comments). Allowing only the positive comments and only having beaming reviews will breed an air of distrust rather than making your company look better. After eating at a restaurant last night, I went home and read the reviews for the restaurant, and numerous patrons had commented that the restaurateur removed their comments on Facebook about bad food and service. Hateful speech and bad language should be squelched on these forums, but honest feedback, even if you don’t like it, needs to be part of the discussion. If you are ready to use Social media as a customer-service platform, you also have to take the good with the bad. Take for example, Best Buy’s faux pas, where they were using Twitter for feedback, but in-store managers didn’t respect the use of social media for customer service.

Transparency is the core of effective social media marketing. If you have a Twitter platform with the purpose of customer service, respond to tweets in the same public forum that you found them on and then offer individualized direct assistance. If you are blogging or on Facebook for brand image, understand how important identifying yourself as a brand ambassador can be and realize that these forums are to facilitate discussions, not to be a one-sided megaphone. Transparency leads to trust, trust leads to loyalty and loyalty leads to repeated business. So, if you read this far in the blog and still feel tricked, I'm sorry (how's that for transparency)? If you don’t care about transparency, you’re just as bad as that honey badger.