A majority of consumers are demanding transparency from businesses, according to a recent report from social media company Sprout Social.
The Social Media and the Evolution of Transparency report (free, registration required) surveyed 1,000 US consumers and found that an overwhelming number (86 percent) think it’s more important than ever before for businesses to be transparent.
These consumers define transparency as being open (59 percent), clear (53 percent) and honest (49 percent).
The report shows that customers are more loyal to companies that reflect those qualities and are willing to walk away from those that don’t.
For example, a stunning 89 percent are willing to give transparent brands a second chance after a bad experience, and 85 percent are willing to stick with them through a crisis.
Stakes are even higher for companies when it comes to their actions on social media. More than half of the consumers surveyed (53 percent) say that they are likely to consider a brand that’s transparent on social for their next purchase. But a lack of transparency can lead 86 percent to take their business elsewhere.
Perhaps surprisingly, 81 percent of consumers say that businesses have a responsibility to be transparent on social — a higher standard than they set for politicians, friends, or even themselves.
The report says that “increased accountability elevates the role transparent and authentic social strategy plays in successful brand-consumer relationships” but adds that stakeholders need to connect the dots.
From the report:
… Many stakeholders fail to connect how transparency communicates authenticity to consumers. Businesses must come to terms with the fact that the majority of people expect to have relationships and communication with brands that fuel a sense of personal and direct connection. The “always on” nature of social puts pressure on businesses to commit to transparency in advance, in multiple formats and in real time.
Kristin Johnson, director of content and communications for Sprout Social, said to “think of transparency as Teflon for your brand.”
Our research found that nearly nine in 10 consumers said they are more likely to stick by a business during a crisis if it has a history of being transparent. In essence, brands that regularly practice transparency — both proactively and reactively — are building a safety net for their reputation, customer retention and long-term loyalty.
As relationships between brands and consumers are increasingly built on social, people expect businesses to be more available and more open than ever before. Marketers that heed that expectation and treat transparency as a business imperative have an opportunity to build invaluable trust with their customers. Long-term, transparency is a differentiating factor that will motivate consumers to stick with your brand through a difficult times and to remain loyal over time.