Way back when I used to live in Wisconsin I promised a lovely grandpa of mine that I would drive the two hours to his house on New Year's Eve to attend his 90th birthday party. After all, his party would be in the morning, which would give me enough time to meet up with a date that night.
Then, I moved to NYC, and remembered this lovely promise I made. A very first world problem, but I never, ever missed the opportunity to plan a lavish, out-of-the-box New Year's Eve. Since I was seventeen (first time I was allowed to go out on my own for NYE), I planned every NYE down to the finest detail, ensuring that when the clock hit midnight, I had the perfect date to kiss in the perfect venue. Now, here I was, living in NYC, with multiple opps to create the ideal NYE, and I promised to be in Wisconsin at 6AM sharp on NYE for a very special birthday.
So, as promised, I flew to Wisconsin and woke up at 5AM to get to my grandpa's 6AM birthday party at McDonald's (he insisted that his party be with his regular group of friends that he met every morning at McDonald's for coffee). I was incredibly frustrated because I didn't have enough time to get ready and dressed in the perfect dress I wanted to wear. Instead, I threw on a sweater dress in a haze and ran a brush through my unwashed hair, jumped in the car, and arrived at my grandpa's infamous McDonald's, a total mess.
Expecting a train of judgments over my less-than-perfect look that morning, I stumbled tiredly into the party. Much to my surprise, the entire group smiled and ran over to me, incredibly excited to hear about my new job in NYC and reminisce about the time I used to live in Wisconsin. They shared stories of their own children and their successes, and tried every way possible to understand exactly what I do in the city. On top of that, they absolutely loved the desserts my mom and I spent hours baking, and recalled that my grandma (who passed away last year) used to make the same recipes and bring them to coffee.
By 6:45AM on NYE, my day was perfect. In my own vanity, I felt like I was failing my grandpa by not being the sparkling, put-together granddaughter at 6AM. Through the conversations with his friends, though, I realized it didn't matter how perfectly put together I was in the middle of the night --> It mattered that I had flown in from NYC and dedicated my NYE to one of the most important people in my life. They didn't care what I was wearing, or how coherent my sentences were --> they just cared that I showed up and had something to say at all.
While the rest of this story will someday make for a much longer, humorous, touching blog post, I want to stop there for the time being, because I feel like this relates so much to one of my very first social media lessons.
As much as I am a perfectionist about life, I somehow intuitively recognized right off the bat that being a perfectionist in social media was a hinderance. It was during my first gig with a corporation that I truly realized this. Every single Tweet had to go through seven different layers before it could be sent out. By the time all of the approvals were met to make sure the Tweet was one hundred precent perfect, the opportunity was missed, and the consumer was pissed off that it took days before we responded. See, the consumer doesn't want a perfectly typed corporate response on social --> the consumer just wants a timely response. They want to know that you are there as a brand, listening to them. Any brand can craft the perfect social response, but not every brand can be there when the consumer truly needs them to just be there.
Now, I'm not talking about the everyday messaging. That absolutely, 100 percent, should reek of perfection (however that is defined by your brand). I am talking about the one-to-one responses to consumers reaching out to your brand --> something that will be even more important in 2015.
If you wait until the response is perfect, you will miss the opportunity to truly impact the consumer. Had I waited until my hair was perfect, and I found the dress I meant to wear, I would have missed my grandpa's birthday party altogether. Had I accepted a date in NYC in order to maintain my own perception of perfect NYEs, and blown off my grandpa's 90th, I would have been a terrible human being that would have regretted that decision forever.
Perfectionism is overrated --> Not because things can't be perfect, but because following the ideal of perfectionism sometimes hinders you from truly receiving perfect moments. Spending NYE with my grandpa and his closest friends at 6AM was the most perfect NYE I could have asked for, and one I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. On top of it, I was able to change into my party dress and create a NYE party in my grandpa's house to celebrate that night. I even found time to reconnect with a friend who happened to be in the area for NYE. My grandpa came to me the next morning and told me how the party I threw for him meant the world to him and made his birthday.
If you trust your gut, and just make the best of whatever the social landscape is when someone reaches out to you on social, I ensure you that you will be able to create meaningful responses above and beyond ANY a seven-layer approval can muster up.
A perfect social response does not come from regimented perfectionism --> it comes from intuitively reading the moment and doing the best with what you have at your fingertips.
A perfect NYE doesn't necessarily come from planning out every detail --> it comes from making the best of your environment, and realizing what's truly important to you in life.
- Marji J. Sherman