Want to know the secret to creating true engagement with your audience? Where your ideal customers are dying to do business with you, and your brand reputation is well-known and well-respected?

Our buddy Ted Rubin, Photofy CMO, social marketing strategist, author, speaker, and host for Brand Innovators Summitsshared what he says is his secret to building lifelong connections with his community. 

If you follow Ted and his Straight Talk blog, you won’t be surprised that his secret to success has been his commitment to being transparent and 100% himself, everywhere he shows up.

And he thinks most businesses have an opportunity to incorporate more transparency into their own messaging and brand values as well.

The Counterintuitive Strategy to Building More Audience Trust

Sounds a little scary? We get it. Most of us were raised up in business adhering to the old school of thought that taught us to “be professional” and to be careful about what we say so we don’t ruin our reputations.

But according to Ted, when you speak up and speak your mind, it actually builds more trust than if you didn’t, or only did it some of the time. And, he says, while you certainly might lose some business adopting a transparent business model, you’ll win more business in the end when the right customers align with your values and buy.

Ted’s not the only one who knows transparency works to build connections. The Sprout Social Index Report found that 86% of Americans say transparency from businesses is more important than ever.

Ted told us that while his openness may have gotten him into trouble in the past, now that social media has changed public expectations about what should or shouldn’t be shared in public, people are less surprised when brands are more liberal with their honesty and transparency.

“Your brand or business is what you do; your reputation is what people remember and share.” – Ted Rubin, CMO – Photophy

So what can you do within your company to start moving towards a more transparent model? Don’t worry, Ted’s not going to tell you to jump in and instantly be as forthcoming as he tends to be. He suggests easing your way in with a few small steps.

Be Transparent – But Test First With Twitter

According to Ted, your first place to start should be to conduct a personal audit to clearly understand your market and who you’re talking to. While he advocates for people to simply be themselves above all else, you’ll want to consider your audience’s tolerance to certain messages before diving in feet first with your transparency.

Ted loves to use Twitter as a real-time testing ground for messaging. His method is to post, listen for feedback, and tweak and adjust from there before sharing to another platform, without straying from his core values.

To hear more from Ted Rubin, listen to our interview with him: Tearing Down the Barriers Between Who You Are Personally and Professionally.