Social Brands Can’t Be Perfect Because Human Beings Aren’t Perfect.

social brand humanizationOne of the greatest challenges brands and human beings face when starting, surviving and thriving on the road to becoming a social business is reputation management and the marriage of personal and business brands.

When is the last time you saw a perfect human being? Someone who never said the wrong thing? Never was late? Never made someone sad? Never wrote an email with a typo? I am yet to meet a perfect human being and my guess is your answer is the same.

So why is it we expect brands to be perfect? The truth is it is impossible for brands to be perfect. Why you ask? Because they are made up of human beings who are far from perfect.

It's like baking a cake. It is not possible to bake a cake that looks exactly the same as the cake you made yesterday. Yes, we can use a recipe. We can use the best ingredients and tips from granny for a guaranteed yummy cake. However, if your granny is anything like my granny, it is impossible to perfect her recipe no matter how hard I try.

social media in a nut shellEmbrace Imperfect Perfection 

The first thing business leaders must do is embrace imperfect perfection. Embrace the fact that your organization is made up of real human beings. Human beings that will never be perfect. Human beings who have good, bad, sad, funny and not so good days. Days that are challenging, exciting and crazy, sometimes all of these things at once. Your audience, followers, community, partners, stakeholders, friends, colleagues, board members also have these same kind of days.

The better you can implement, leverage, embrace and engage the human aspects of your greatest social business assets, your employees, the greater your success will be.

blog valueSocial Media is About Relationships

Yes, social media is about tools, tech, apps and all the fun geeky stuff. However, at the core of social media and social business is both art and science. We must learn to balance both the art and science for results. To ignore the human element, the ability to connect as real people, real human beings, is ignoring the foundation for why social media exists. If your efforts in social media are not helping the human beings within your organization build relationships with other real human beings, then you are missing out on the greatest benefit of all.

Yes, you can tweet, Facebook and pin as a logo. However, at some point you must humanize your brand in a way that enables real relationships to be built with real people. People that your target audiences, stakeholders and online friends can see, hear, touch and smell in real life. It is the human connections that will fuel brand awareness, establish trust, increase brand loyalty, and eventually positively impact your bottom line.

Are You Investing In Your Greatest Social Business Assets?  

You get out of social media what you put into it. This doesn't just go for external. You must invest in the internal walls of your business for success. Don't be so afraid of making a mistake that you hide the human aspect of your business.

Let your people be people. Let your leaders have a voice. If they don't know, live and breathe your brand promise, then teach them, inspire them to do such.

Your brand is going to shine from the inside out regardless if you plan to let it do so or not.

Take the time to implement a social media policy that reflects the human nature of your business. Don't just throw social media tools at a community manager who doesn't understand your business, your market, your competition. It's like throwing them to the crazy tweeting social wolves and is a recipe for disaster for you and your brand.

Social Business Happens From the Inside Out

Becoming a social business doesn't happen on a Facebook page. It doesn't happen from a million retweets or a video gone viral. As much as you may want to think your success will be fueled by your “next big thing,” the truth is it won't!  It's going to take time, commitment and isn't going to happen overnight.

Chances are you will fall down more than you stand up in the beginning. However, as you train your team, implement processes and connect with your audience as a human they will help you stand. It's the relationships that will keep you going. The relationships that start with the human beings already within your business walls.

Success as a social business starts from the inside out.  It starts with who you are, what you are, what you do, what you say. It depends on what you believe, if you do what you say you will do.

Invest in the people, process, infrastructure, technology, training that enables you to be successful from the inside out. Yes, you need policies to protect your brand. You need customer service procedures, escalation paths and communication frameworks to enable your audiences to be serviced properly via the social media channels. It will take you years, not days to truly integrate social media into the DNA of your business. It will be forever changing. Why you ask me? Because your business is made up of people. People change and that is good.

The only guarantee in social business is change. Get uncomfortable being uncomfortable. Accept and embrace the fact you have a business made up of humans and you will be just fine! Trust me, avoiding it won't get you anywhere. Perfection is enemy of good. Make imperfection your best friend.

What You Say? 

What are your thoughts? Does your organization embrace the human element of social business? Do you tweet only as a logo? Do you have a social media policy that enables your employees to engage in real dialog as a representation of your organization? What brands do you believe are best at being human? What can we learn from them?


Additional Resources: 

Subscribe to our “Get a Grip on Social Media” newsletter for tips & tricks to get your business in shape for real social business!

Subscribe to our “Heartbeat of Social Media” Series for tips on Brand Humanization and Nurturing Relationships

Blog Post: 15 Reasons Random Acts of Marketing & Social Media Don't Work (Marketing Nutz)

Blog Post: 20 Tips to Tame the Wild Social Media Beast

Blog Post: You Can't Fake Relevance in Social Media, Business & Life

Blog Post: Slow Down to Speed Up

Blog Post: Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Credibility




About the Author:

CEO / Founder Marketing Nutz, full service social media, digital marketing, experiential brand, conversion optimization agency. Ranked by Forbes as Top 10 Social Media Women and 10 Social Media Power Influencer. Keynote speaker, author, strategist, consultant, coach, & trainer. Helps businesses of all sizes integrate social media into the DNA of their business, connect with target audiences to nurture authentic customer relationships. 15+ years experience working with Fortune 500, Franchised corporations with 4000+ local franchises to entrepreneurs and startups.


  1. Michele Price January 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Yes and the need to ask those questions that give the room needed for us to be accepting of imperfection.

    How can I view them as maybe being where I was – before I learned…
    How great is it they have gone before me and now show one way, I can capture that same brilliance …..
    Where do we see the human – the person behind the avatar and bring grace to the situation…

    Yeah these questions could help. Thoughts?

    Thanks for opening this dialogue.

    • PamMktgNut January 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      I agree 100% @prosperitygal:disqus . I like your use of the word “grace” in this situation. While I believe brands are accountable for implementing proper infrastructure to minimize risk, protect brand etc. they (and we) must also recognize the world, their brand and social ecosystem is made up of people. It’s the people, the wrinkles, laughs, tears, mistakes that make it so beautiful.

      We must be understanding when mistakes happen. Brands must also own up to the mistakes, communicate openly & implement the necessary changes going forward.

      I believe whole heartedly most brands are at the beginning stages of understanding what this means and how they manage it.

      Glad to open up the dialogue. I think it’s much needed and will continue for some time.

      Appreciate you taking time to stop by & share your thoughts. Hope you have a great week! 🙂

  2. Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc. January 20, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Excellent post Pam. It’s imperfections that make us human and human is what social is all about. We all use tools to automate some aspects of community management, but without the human touch of social, a community will wither and die. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sarah Santacroce January 21, 2013 at 2:58 am

    Totally agree, Pam. And humans make mistakes, let’s just admit to that too. And when we make those mistakes, let’s admit them & then apologize. I still freak out whenever I make a mistake in an e-mail that goes out to my list (a link that’s not working for example). Then I try to relax and think: maybe that’s just a proof of me being human 😉 Thanks for this post !

    • PamMktgNut January 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Amen, agree @Simplicityadmins:disqus . We all make mistakes. Brands must also realize this and invest in the proper training, procedures, infrastructures etc.

  4. Tonia Ries January 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Great points, Pam. I read a post earlier today (If I can remember where, I’ll post a link!) pointing out that the most compelling brand stories are ones in which the brand shows some vulnerability — it’s what creates empathy, and allows customers to connect with your story. And you can’t do that without pretending you’re perfect…

    PS Have I told you that orange is my favorite color? 😉

  5. Van March 12, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Totally agree on every point. Not every brand understands the point of “being human” and assess it from a business or legal perspective. That’s where I come in. I am very proud to work with a Fortune 50 company that embraces the human voice and I was designated to be “it.” I love what I do for a living and am passionate in spreading the message that: YES! Being human means imperfections in my grammar or an oopsy daisy moment, but at the end of the day I care about the brand I work for and the people I engage with.

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