The era of benefit of the doubt is coming to close for businesses. Consumers are growing more skeptical of brands, while at the same time holding them to a higher standard than ever before when it comes to transparency and honesty. There’s probably no clearer example of this playing out than Facebook. The social network has been roiling from a never-ending series of scandals, obfuscations and crisis mishandling. So what’s the right approach? Consumers say openness.
Facebook Knows How to Do One Thing Really, Really Well
Facebook is at a major crossroads. It’s built its business on doing one thing really, really well—collecting user data and turning that data into content to bring users back to its platform time and time again. That approach has led Facebook to achieve explosive growth and to become what is objectively one of the most impactful businesses of modern times. But that success was largely built on gathering data in the background without any questions.
That expertise is not only becoming less relevant; it’s becoming damaging.
Now, Facebook is facing one crisis and privacy misstep after another. Cambridge Analytica was the first domino to fall, but today we see Facebook’s struggle in terms of leadership, company morale and policy integration. The big question now is whether or not Facebook can move from a “move fast and break things” mentality to one built on long-term growth and survival—a mentality infused with responsibility and instilling trust in its users. That’s a new competency that Facebook needs to develop for its long-term growth and survival.
Consumers Invest in Trust
There’s good reason for Facebook and any company for that matter to focus on trust and transparency in communications. Transparency is a differentiator. 65% of consumers believe most brands lie, and 82% will forgive brands that admit to mistakes. To take that even further, the majority of consumers are more likely or very likely to pay extra for products from companies that are transparent.
People are eager to trust in brands and reward them for transparency, but for many that’s as much a cultural shift as it is a messaging one. Facebook has some work to do, and I think it’s going to have to do that hard cultural shift work if it wants to survive over the long-term. But that really goes for any company. People want to trust. They want transparency. It’s not just a moral imperative, it’s a financial one.