People Over Profits: Why Integrity Should Be Your Business's First Priority

Integrity. For many leaders, this word provides confidence to employees and collaborators. For others, it beckons rolling eyes as it echoes emptily through posters, videos - and even conversations - with little to no action from bosses or vendors.

Where does your business stand with integrity? Can you trace a memory to a moment you made sure the customer was right? Does it trigger feelings of guilt or shame because of a past or present shortcoming? Or does it empower you to continue in your way of doing things? If you can say with 110% certainty you're empowered by integrity, you're on the right track.

The Power of Integrity-Inspired Social Media & Content

We can all attest to the major role social media and content play in our business demeanors. Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos - and especially blogs - provide snapshots of your business everyday. If you're unhappy with the results of your content and social media strategy, there's a simple solution: put people first.

Here are some things to consider when assessing your strategy:

  • Are you adding value to the public with your content?
  • Can your mission and principles be accessed through the people you hire?
  • Do you offer high quality service online and in person?
  • What picture are you painting for your customers (and employees) with your business's behaviors - virtually and in real life?

Removing Your Bottom Line from B2B (Business-to-Business) & B2C (Business-to-Consumer) Communications

One of the most damaging ways a company can operate is by doing so from a fearful mindset. When a bottom line is the [insert position title here]'s first priority, the person in front of you - whether it be a commentator on social media, a dissatisfied customer or an employee - becomes the nth priority. When a person becomes the nth priority, your personal credibility is at stake. If your personal reputation is compromised, so is the business's. This is why social media and content must be made with an effort to connect, not solely to profit from performance.

When numbers become your bottom line for communication instead of connection, you're losing integrity. Content quality (including social media) should instead be measured by three things:

1. Emotional engagement and responses from your audience

While "likes" and "hearts" are indications of good engagement, ask questions that encourage direct contact, comment responses or re-sharing. The best way to do that? Include the reader in what you're sharing. How and why does what you're saying impact them? Will they understand it in the way you're saying it?

This leads me to the second way to measure quality content -

2. Identifiable value upfront

Your social media and content communications should offer value that can be easily detected by the audience and your business. Make it clear what they can gain by reading your content or following your social media site. Also, make sure you can put your money where your mouth is and honor what you're promising.

3. (Wholehearted) Acknowledgement

Every content strategy should include acknowledgement to those who make your business possible. Do you take time to answer every comment and message? Are phone calls, especially complaints, answered with compassion and understanding? Do you ask for feedback on blog posts? Acknowledging isn't only identifying someone and what they've said, it's making sure they feel understood by what you've said.

The intentions of a business shines through its people. Before communicating your business value - externally or internally - make sure it's delivering integrity on all fronts. Taking inventory of your content and social media posts periodically can help make sure your communications are aligned with what you truly offer. If your communications aren't in tune with your current services, products, or behaviors, correct whatever is lacking to make your brand consistent from the inside out.