Sprout Social released a report that states transparency is the key and social media can be leveraged to establish deeper connections while inspiring stronger loyalty from consumers. The analytics company surveyed 1,000 consumers in the US about their expectations of brand transparency and the role social media plays in communication.

“Transparency” is a vaguely defined term but most respondents associate it words like “open,” “clear” and “honest.” Meanwhile, the lack of transparency is characterized by phrases such as “withholding information,” “ignoring customer questions” and “ignoring employee questions.”

According to the findings, 86 percent of consumers said that brand transparency is “very important,” with almost the same percentage saying that openness would inspire them to stay with a company or give it a second chance after a bad experience. Almost three-quarters of consumers would pay more for products from a brand that guarantees total transparency, while almost half said they’d recommend the company to friends and family. The report also found that over half of consumers feel that companies are morally obligated to be transparent.

Forming lasting connections requires continuous dedication and improvement based on what audiences want to hear. Therefore, brands shouldn’t regard transparency as strictly a marketing tactic or a shift in communication strategy. Instead, every level of an organization should adjust how it engages with consumers to determine how the brand wants to be defined.

Sprout states: “As social has increased opportunities for people and brands to readily connect, it has also driven heightened expectations on which the majority of businesses are falling short.”

These calls for greater transparency are driven largely by millennials who believe that interaction through social media is key to establishing authentic relationships. In fact, they demand more openness from brands than they do politicians, friends and family, and prefer social media over traditional forms of communications such as ads and media interviews.

The report adds that consumers expect ongoing two-way communication on social media as a bare minimum, with these platforms being the first places they turn to be entertained, educated and to “have their needs met without having to ask.”

Acts that demonstrate transparency include admitting to mistakes, providing honest answers to customer questions and being upfront about pricing. Over half of consumers want to be informed about product and service changes, the company’s values and its business practices over social media. Also, the overwhelming majority said that video was the most transparent form of communication.