Trying hard to be genuine: the only viable path is transparency


ABC News recently ran a segment Social media forces companies to change their marketing strategies or risk being left behind.

The piece, which included quotes from Mark Zuckerberg, Guy Kawasaki, and myself, among others, looked at how companies are changing how they are connecting to their customers and communities.

One excerpt from my interview noted:

ROSS DAWSON: People can very quickly see when something is false or has a false tone. Indeed, companies now do have to find those that are genuinely engaged to be able to help them to spread their messages. So in a world which is becoming more transparent, being genuine – not trying to pull the swift one on your consumers – is in fact the only way to success.

As organizations get increasingly sophisticated in their use of social media I often tell executives that the next phase is to link the internal and external social networks of their companies.

To get strong external engagement, in other words to be good at marketing, you need to project in a genuine way who you are as a company.

The best possible way is to allow the internal networks, that are driving performance and efficiency, to flow through to external visibility. You need to become more transparent, allowing who you are to be seen.

This is of course highly challenging, and the principles of ‘governance for transformation‘ need to be applied to manage and mitigate real risks, as well as enable the shift to an organization that can be successfully in a highly networked world.

However the alternative is to try to fake it. It may have worked in the past, but it will not in the future.

Being transparent, allowing your staff to express and create your brand in a genuine way with your customers and stakeholders is very difficult, but it has become the only lasting path to success.