There are several reasons why I think businesses hamstring their social efforts. First, there’s an overriding, if misguided, pressure to get things “perfect” on social, which is sometimes used as an excuse to avoid getting involved at all. The permanent nature of anything that’s posted on the web tends to freak out the “control the message” crowd who has their fingers poised over the delete button to instantly erase ill-advised comments or content. We’re never far removed from the latest social snafu by a public figure, or the next one to come, and that fear can be paralyzing.

Second, there’s a certain amount of mistrust of employees by corporations on social channels. What if they say something stupid? What if they take a photocopy of their posterior at the company Christmas party and post it on Facebook? What if our perfect reputation is trashed by one Tweet? What if, what if, what if?

On top of all that (or in some instances because of it) marketing departments are more concerned than ever with putting out the perfect message rather than concentrating on responding and engaging effectively. When the onus is on perfection, a single tweet or status update can take weeks to craft—and being human takes a back seat to what they think is “branding.”

You can see why anyone with a brand, a career, and a social presence might feel the need to get things perfect. The concerns listed above are all real and worth keeping in mind (but that’s it) as you delve into social, but they shouldn’t stop you from getting involved. Even if you are new to the medium itself, you’ve still got plenty of experience interacting in face-to-face social settings. That doesn’t go away simply because you are socializing in a new format.

Your traditional, face-to-face experiences should also give you some comfort regarding the risk of getting things wrong on social channels. Sure, you’ll run into trouble if you say something insensitive or are intentionally misleading on social, but that’s nothing new. You’d get in trouble acting that way in public, too, yet most of us manage to avoid it simply by being respectful and real toward the people we encounter.

Social mirrors real life. It’s not as if we suddenly lose our concept of human interaction when we sit down to a keyboard or turn on a tablet! Too often, though, all of the worrying and red tape built into social strategies leads to a message that’s been dehumanized. If people want a sterilized vision of your products, services, or brand, there are plenty of places they can find that information online. When it comes to social, though, people want to interact with real people, not robots.

That’s where you enter the picture. Roll up your sleeves, get involved, and show off your personality. Instead of concerning yourself with getting each interaction pitch-perfect, focus on treating people with kindness and respect.

Building a social brand is dependent on allowing people to connect. While advertising and analytics are still powerful tools, social interaction and conversation is the best way to humanize your brand. You just need to provide that real, human presence.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t worry at all about your image and interactions on social, or plan content ahead of time. I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t have some rules in place for social, on personal, employee-related, and marketing levels. By all means, have a social governance policy in place and educate your employees about how to effectively use platforms. They’re going to be social anyway, so why not empower them to be better at it, and give them the tools to advocate for you when they wish to do so?

It’s time to take your company’s social back. By humanizing your brand, you allow yourself and your employees and partners to build real relationships with customers. Remember that relationships are like muscle tissue… the more they are engaged, the
stronger and more valuable they become.

All you’ve got to worry about is following the golden rule, which applies to social as well as it does anywhere else – Treat people how you’d like them to treat you. So take a breath and stop worrying so much. Social is all about how you connect and build relationships.  Concentrate more on getting it right, and less on getting it perfect.

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