Openness, honesty, clarity and authenticity are all traits you’d want in a friend. But if you can even believe it, research shows that those are the terms that people want the most from businesses.

Most Americans (86 percent) say transparency from companies is more important to them than ever before, according to 2018 Sprout Social research.

After all, consumers talk with companies in a more personal and consistent way on social media — and share a wealth of personal data. In return, people want and expect your business to be open, clear and honest. That sounds like a fair trade.

If you’re not convinced, you’ll be happy to know that transparency has a pretty stellar return on investment (ROI). More than half of people are likely to buy from brands that are transparent on social, which can help you attract new customers.

Once you have them, if you remain transparent, 85 percent of people are likely to give you a second chance if they have a negative experience or stick by your company if you’re in a crisis.

But only 15 percent of people say that brands are currently very transparent on social media. Let’s do better than that! Here’s how.

To be clear, what exactly is transparency?

Business transparency is all about telling it like it is. Share the truth, don’t sugarcoat it and own up to your mistakes when you make them.

In essence, extend the courtesies that you’d expect from your best friend to your customers and followers.

Why is it so important right now?

With the plethora of brands and competitors out there, people expect more from the businesses they patronize. People said the top reason companies need to be transparent right now is because they’re "morally obligated" to be. In return, 45 percent of consumers expect it.

Plus, people noted social media makes it more important and easier to monitor businesses' accountability.

How can my business be more transparent?


Start with social. This is the top channel where transparency is expected, followed by TV/radio ads and media interviews. Go live on social to really win people over.

Admit your mistakes. It’s hard to do, but it’s the best way to handle a bad situation.

Answer customer questions honestly. Don’t skirt or fudge the facts.

Talk about the hard stuff. If you’re going to change your product/service, prices or company policy, let people know. Describe why you’re making the change and how it will affect them.

Get your CEO on board. Create a social account for your CEO. People will find them more accessible, approachable, human, honest, trustworthy and authentic regardless of the content they post. Plus, nearly a third of people say a CEO’s transparency on social would inspire them to buy more from that business.


Withhold information. Nobody likes secrets, especially in business.

Ignore questions from customers or employees. You can’t have honest communication if you don’t welcome a two-way dialogue.

Avoid relevant political/social issues. Yes, people want your brand to take a stand and talk politics, especially when it directly affects your business.

Stay quiet. People want you to keep them updated with posts on a regular basis.

Think you can do it all! You need every member of your company on board for this to really work and make an impact.