If you’ve had any exposure to social media, you’ve probably already heard the term “transparency” before. You’ve also probably heard that it’s a very good thing for social media users to have. So fine. You want to be transparent, then. Good. But what does that mean for your business, exactly? It’s time to break down that term as it relates to your company’s involvement in social media.

It means what you think it means. Just as the term implies, your customers need to be able to see who you really are on social media platforms. Don’t overthink what your image should be or try to be something you aren’t. Your authenticity will translate as both honesty and integrity to your customers.

It means you’re not afraid. If your company stays transparent via social media, it shows your customers that you’re brave enough to welcome criticism. Your willingness to open yourself up to positive and negative feedback, and then address both publically, will immediately build brand trust.

It means you have nothing to hide. Kind of. Yes, you should be up front and personable via social media. However, you should not overshare either. Trade secrets, tedious company details, and your heartbreak over a recent break-up do NOT need to be disclosed. Rather share what is appropriate and engaging, share often, and always keep it professional.

 It means saying that you work there. If you are tweeting from your personal account about a fantastic company product, you need to share your connection to your company. Not only is that an ethical social media standard, but the FTC insists upon it.

It means you like to talk. Transparent companies engaging through social media like to have online conversations with their customers. They reply to comments, they retweet funny ideas, and they treat their customers like new friends. This is social media, after all.

Without a doubt, transparency is a fundamental part of most successful social media connections and campaigns. And your company’s willingness to be transparent in a way that customers have come to expect will only mean further brand loyalty in your future.