Facebook and the return of transparency

Ten years in communications—and an organization’s life cycle—is a long time. It’s an eternity in a society that moves at the pace of “now,” that yearns for novelty, and that is in constant sharing mode. After ten years of existence, Facebook has certainly played an important role in accelerating this phenomenon while bringing about significant changes. With 1.23 billion active users per month, Facebook has not only changed how individuals communicate but also how companies do business, contact their customers and maintain a relationship with them.

Today, there are no more filters; there are no more “gates” between companies and their customers. Consumers are now in direct contact with their networks, with their favourite brands or with companies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Complaints or compliments no longer travel anonymously through the mail; they are made out in the open via social networks. Opinions are expressed at any time of day and not just to an organization’s customer service department; they are out there for the entire world to see.

The immediacy of Facebook and our society’s insatiable hunger to instantly share information mean that unsatisfied consumers don’t take the time to reflect on an issue or cool off after frustration sets in. Nowadays, no matter where they are, customers can immediately and without hesitation share their thoughts from tablets and smartphones. These “liberated consumers” are forcing companies to react quickly, be flexible and transparent, and, above all, be ready to face this new reality. The old saying is that the customer is always right. Now, the customer also has the power to be heard by all.

This introduces a new dimension to the definition of business and leader accountability. Although perhaps intangible, this accountability is demanding and requires transparency and authenticity. If they want to grow and be sustainable, organizations must have a clear, real vision of what they are and what they do. They must be able to easily and consistently articulate this vision whenever they interact with their audiences. Consumers are after the truth and turn a deaf ear to sales pitches. Companies that fail to understand this will pay the price in the long run.

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