The Truth About Transparency and Authenticity on Social Media: How Brands Communicate and How Customers Respond: An Abstract



  • There is a broad consensus among practitioners and academicians that the success of social media communication relies heavily on the perceived authenticity of the content. Also, transparency – not to be confused with authenticity – has received significant attention in both the literature and the mainstream media in recent months. Both big business and politics have given the general public reason to doubt both their authenticity and transparency. Undoubtedly, authenticity and transparency are often used interchangeably despite the concepts’ fundamental differences. Authenticity is related to image consistency and perceived genuineness, while transparency is more concerned with being forthcoming with all information that can affect the relevant stakeholders of the firm. Examples include Amazon’s damaged credibility stemming from incentivized reviews, a presidential candidate’s refusal to disclose tax returns, and deceptive advertising complaints filed against the Kardashian family regarding their consistent failure to disclose they were paid to post certain content on social media. This special session presents three research projects that leverage basic marketing principles to examine the effects of authenticity and transparency in the realm of social media. Clearly, there is an increasing concern with transparency and authenticity in the American culture, and many are pushing for more stringent regulations moving forward. A brand’s engagement in social media marketing represents new territory and the potential need for more specific policies to protect consumers. Therefore, the potential for consumer deception through paid social media posts is examined in the first presentation. The second presentation examines the role of permission marketing in social media marketing authenticity. Marketers have targeted sponsored content on the consumer’s space on social media. However, the effectiveness of this practice in comparison to a more permission-based (opt-in or opt-out) approach to social media marketing is yet to be examined. At the heart of this presentation is a comparison between interruptive and permission-based approaches to social media marketing as it relates to social media marketing authenticity. Finally, despite authenticity’s buzzword status in social media marketing, it is unclear exactly what produces an authentic social media presence. Moreover, consumer responses to more or less authentic social media content are not yet well understood. Therefore, the role of congruency between a brand’s personality and the personality of its branded social media content is investigated in the third presentation.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

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