Transparency has been written and talked about a lot. I won't pretend it hasn't, and I'll try not to beat a dead horse. That's why I don't understand how people still don't get it. Every day I see Tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts that are promoting a product or service, but the person isn't disclosing their connection to it. Unfortunately, it even happens within my own social circle. I see it and I'm excited because a friend or connection, who I trust because of past experience, is recommending something. Naturally, I want to check it out. Later I find out they were doing it selfishly because they're connected to it, or because they "had" to because they work for the company. I start to wonder if the product/service is reliable. I second guess my judgment and theirs.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't promote a product you're connected to in your social networks and circles - I know I've done it. In fact you should do it because you should support, like and believe in the organizations you're connected to. The difference is disclosing the connection. I know I've genuinely liked everything I've ever discussed in my social networks. The value of social networks is the ability to gain honest, third party perspectives and feedback. There will always be people out there who aren't honest and who are only looking out for number one. But if even people in my social networks are doing it, the ones who I consider the "good guys and gals," what's going to happen to that third party value I've enjoyed so much? Am I just dreaming of an idealistic social world that simply can never truly exist?