What businesses need to know about social media in one blog post …

Ready?

It’s about TRANSPARENCY.

But it’s much more than that. It’s about honesty, truth in self-promotion, vulnerability, work ethic, virtue … in a very real sense, it’s about the right you’ve earned by living up to your own high standards to take a genuine customer testimonial and openly, humbly, but with pride …. discuss it through social media, while at the same time acknowledging that you’re not perfect. You let your followers know that social media is the venue for your customers to publicly “prod” you for what you can improve upon, and you not only thank them for it, but address it … and talk about how you’re addressing it.

If you’re an ethical, respected (and respectful) company, you’re invitation to be honestly and openly reviewed will be met with equal grace by your customers, and both parties will engender that mutual respect and partnership openly, fairly and with appropriate consideration.

If your company is Simon LeGreed Inc., the notorious “for-profit-by-any-means” oportunists known for their somewhat less than ethical standards … you know, the guys who will bypass NO shortcut to a quicker and easier quarterly bonus … then frankly, social media is not for you. You’ll be found out pretty quickly by the schlocky, canned, Madison Avenue crafted behaviorist ‘psy-op’ propoganda you’ll instinctively litter Facebook with by virtue of so many years steeped in that drivel … you just won’t be able to help yourself.

And this is the promise of social media. For those who know how to use it (and not abuse it) it is the medium through which honesty pays, in a world where it doesn’t.

There can be no doubt that many people who do business with you today are sick and tired of what they see, read and hear about the wrong behaviors being rewarded, in business, on Wall Street, in public institutions, even in society at large. Deceptive marketing, subliminal advertising, propagandization and perhaps the most hated of all in our cyber world, SPAM, are all commonplace in our everyday lives. Social media is designed to be counter to all that — and to be antithetical to the disingenuous message of our modern age.

This is why so much of social media is driving toward the capability for customers, members, clients and partners to submit reviews or commendations themselves, as opposed to the traditional static “testimonial” which many people perceive to be edited, possibly embellished and even maybe totally contrived in a world where traditional marketing and advertising techniques are not exactly known as pillars of integrity.

In its proper use, there is an inherant “social etiquette” in social media which demands that with the benefit of transparency, to self-promote the reputation you’ve earned, comes a cost – and that is the vulnerability of your imperfections. What social media helps us to recognize is that there is a positive element built into the recognition and admission of failure, if it teaches how to avoid that mistake in the future.

It would be perfectly normal for a business leader to openly reflect on Facebook upon a mistake his company made in principle (the details being unimportant), that’s going to cost the business a lot of time and money to repair, but it’s the right thing to do … to take the financial hit, and move on.

Just as when a bad review comes in, and you openly apologize and address it. Social media reminds us that we are not perfect, but how we deal with our mistakes, and the responsibility we feel to correct them, makes all the difference in the world. And it gives you the right to earn kudos, and when you do, to openly convey the pride in your team, and the pride they take in a job well done.

And the financial rewards that come with that work ethic are earned, not schemed, stolen or otherwise ill-gotten.

That’s when transparency feels good, and that’s when social media delivers it’s reward.

This is the key to social media for every business. There’s much more to learn, but this is all you need to know.