Familiarity may not breed contempt, but it certainly removes the allure of the unknown. There’s something about not knowing that makes us want to know more. When there is nothing left to the imagination, we lose interest. Imagine for a moment that your favorite box office superstar has a new movie coming out. Rumors of edge of seat suspense leading up to a nail biting climax have been circulating for months. You’ve marked your calendar for the release date because you simply can’t wait to see it.

When the first trailer is released, you navigate to the website to read, “Before you watch the trailer you should know that the hero’s girlfriend dies at the hands of the serial killer he was trying to stop. After her death, the hero destroys the man who killed her. We’re providing this information in an effort to be transparent.” The suspense is gone because you know what happens. How much do you want to see the movie now?

Businesses are advised every day to be transparent in social media about everything they do. This includes who is tweeting and posting, why they are doing it, and what the followers should expect. Some even call for companies to declare their intentions as if people didn’t know they wanted to sell their products and services.

Transparency sounds good when discussed in theory, but does it matter in reality?

Before you start telling everything you know about your business, there are a few questions you should ask:

     

     

  • Do your customers care who is providing the information or do they simply want quality information and answers to their questions?
  • Will sharing the information reduce your competitive edge?
  • Is failing to share information a violation of any laws or rulings?
  • Does sharing the information create a legal risk for your organization?
  • What effect will sharing the information have on your business?
  • Are you trying to trick people with unwarranted claims?

In most cases, your customers don’t care about your transparency or your marketing strategy. They care about the service you provide them. They want you to fulfill your promise. There won’t be any questions about transparency as long as the people you serve don’t feel tricked, manipulated, or misled. In fact, a little secrecy can be a good thing. People like something left to the imagination.