How Much Transparency Is Too Much?

We’ve talked before about storytelling and authenticity, and how being your true self is your most powerful branding tactic. But just how open and honest should you be when it comes to sharing your story?

There are marketers who will post monthly income statements or wads of cash they say they have earned and You might say that when you’re making the kind of bank they say they do it’s easy to share—perhaps even inspirational to your audience. But it might also be off-putting to some, since talking about money is often seen as vulgar. Maybe it works to attract the exact audience they are after but it could also attract criminals. Others will find other mentors, and that is, after all, the point of marketing.

Transparency comes in other forms as well. Struggles with alcoholism, depression, obesity or cancer and other health concerns are commonly shared. Stories of marriage and relationship triumphs (and tragedies) are told. Even spats between competing businesses aren’t off limits for some marketers.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to be frank and honest about all areas of your life and business. With a little forethought and planning, you can keep certain aspects of your story private.

Watch Your Social Media Profiles

Here’s where a lot of business owners falter, especially when it comes to Facebook. You have your personal profile, to which you invite friends and family, and your business page, where you talk, well, business.

But there will inevitably be some overlap. Colleagues will slowly filter into your personal timeline, and you into theirs. Pretty soon, your business people are hearing all about your latest bout with the flu and that snarky thing your mother in law said yesterday. Too much? Maybe.

When it comes to your social media sharing, it’s important to pay close attention to not only what you say, but who you’re saying it to. Using privacy settings, contact lists, and even limiting who you “friend” can help maintain your privacy while still being transparent about your business offerings.

Remember, the Internet is Forever

While privacy settings can help, a better way to keep your personal business away from prying eyes is to simply not post it at all. Think of every blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update and Instagram pic as a billboard. If you wouldn’t post it on the side of the highway for all who pass to read it, don’t put it online either. The chance that it will “leak” (despite your best efforts) is great, and once it’s out there, you will not ever get it back.

So think twice about those nasty replies, intimate details, and other confidential information. You just never know who might be reading, and they will affect your brand image.

The bottom line? Know your audience and know yourself. If you’re not comfortable sharing certain aspects of your life and business, chances are they won’t be comfortable hearing about it, either. It’s okay to maintain some privacy, even in this transparent world of online marketing.

Have you been harmed by your own transparency? Tell us about it here.