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12 2010

LET’S ALL GET RID OF OUR PERFECTION OBSESSION

Posted in Life | 4 comments

I believe  that successful social media is a  mysterious, magical  blend of strategy, tactics (i.e. tools) and the right mindset.  But of the three, I think ‘getting the right mindset’ is what stumps people the most.   

One of the biggest psychological obstacles in social media is the notion that we must be perfect. All the time. And to all people.  This Perfection Obsession has dominated corporations for years and has trickled down even to small businesses and solo entrepreneurs.  We want to portray ourselves as perfect.  We want to show off our companies as having no blemishes and no faults.  And we are frightened to death that someone, somewhere might pull the curtain back and find out that we are really just the little old man in the Wizard of Oz.

This Perfection Obsession mixes badly with social media.  Why?  Because social media is social.  . It is all about interactions between people.  And, human relations are anything but perfect. They are messy and contradictory and full of good , bad and in-between emotions.  Human beings—their thoughts and feelings—cannot be packed up neatly in a little box and pushed out in neat, manageable, bite-sized pieces.   That was  the old way—the traditional thinking behind mass media and advertising.  And that way of thinking is going the route of the dinosaur.

So, let’s all forget about the Perfection Obsession. (The secret is out anyway—no one ever thought either you or your company was perfect).

Aim instead for another mindset.  Honesty.  Integrity.  Transparency.  Let people see your mistakes. Talk about them.  People will not think the less of you for it..  To the contrary, humans, oddly enough, like humanity. 

Oddly, in all areas of our lives, we are drawn, like moths to flame, towards the perfection of imperfection. So celebrate your imperfection. Everyone will appreciate

  1. K9 Coach says:

    Great post. I think it is the beauty of social media. You can find real people do business with, to learn from, and to network with. The shiny corporate polish shouldn’t always be there, and many times gives the feeling of “I’m being lied to”. People are tired of being lied to by big business.

    Social media is bringing a fresh light to who we are and what we do for business.

  2. Susan I couldn’t agree more. If clients and brands can take your lead the Social media landscape will be a much improved one. Having completed over 24 pieces of social media activity for different clients with my previous company my favourite was demonstrating to one how important their customers opinions were to them offering advice in some cases that lead to changes in research and development of their products. But the look of surprise on the faces of the marketing team because of the grammar ( or lack of it) and mispelling in the replies. Everyone has a voice now even if they can’t spell! they are still your customers and buy your products.

  3. Spot on! Could not agree more. We forget that Social Media is about people not tools. The tools are the enabler, but people are what make it happen.

    Check out http://www.stopthinksocial.com/blog/2010/3/8/social-media-its-just-a-bunch-of-tools-right.html. This is something I put together to highlight this exact point!

    Managing the “change in mindset” is critical to successful adoption of social media in small, medium even large enterprises. This is often under-estimated. Fear of change is one change in mindset, but it’s also addressing the “why should i bother, the old ways work just fine” and the “i don’t have time for social media – i’m too busy”. It’s these barriers of change that also have to be overcome.

    But there is also the fear of needing to be perfect, particularly for those new to social media. The British culture is renowned for needing to be perfect, fear of failure is not an option and all that….. Social Media teaches us that if you let go and just be honest, open and transparent then people will respond in kind.

    Good post….look forward to your next one.

  4. Laurent says:

    You’re right and it’s a struggle. The perfection of imperfection or the imperfection of perfection. Companies are putting so much effort to look perfect that they all look the same and fail to build trust. As a matter of fact, if you look at the websites of several competitors and weed out everything related to them, you get the same pitch, the same words, the same images. So we stop looking at them (well almost).