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In Social Media, Reality Trumps Perfection
In Social Media, Reality Trumps Perfection
Tactical Technology

In Social Media, Reality Trumps Perfection



This is the first in a series of practical columns on “digital marketing made simple” by Constant Contact’s Ron Cates.

As many of you have discovered, social media can be a powerful marketing tool and an excellent way to engage with customers and prospects.

But where’s all of that content going to come from? You’re great at running your business, but you’re crazy busy -- and you probably didn’t sign on to be a professional writer and can’t afford to hire one.

Here’s great news: Social media is not meant to be perfect. In fact, perfectionism can diminish your social media impact.

Mistakes keep it human
The emphasis in “social” is on being real and transparent and on speaking with a human voice.

So an occasional misspelled word or use of imperfect grammar is not only acceptable, but is often viewed as refreshing and humanizing.

On being transparent
Let’s delve into the transparency aspect.

At my live seminars, I often ask audience members about their businesses. Recently I heard from one attendee who is the owner of a hobby store with nine employees. They sell radio-controlled airplanes, cars and boats.

I asked how his employees behave when FedEx or UPS delivers the newest, hottest item. The response, as expected, was, “They practically fight over each other to be the first to open the box!”

The power of reality
Now think about how you might market that hot new item. What would have the biggest impact? A professionally produced television commercial? Or taping 30 seconds of true excitement, using just a smartphone or flip-style video camera, and posting it on YouTube?

You can’t fake enthusiasm, and there’s nothing more powerful than reality.

You’ve worked hard to make your customers happy, and, in fact, you’ve created many fans. A quick video testimonial has a trust value that commercials do not even approach.

Sharing – as good as creating
More good news: Over half the content on social media is shared content. Finding and sharing can be as impactful as creating!

I live in the digital marketing space. It’s my hobby, my passion and my vocation. On most days, I scan dozens of blogs related to digital marketing. When I find something that would resonate with my audience, I share it! I simply hit a button and post the link to Facebook or Twitter.

Filter info for your customers
My followers are small business owners. Marketing is important to them, but they can’t justify spending the time to stay as current on digital marketing. They have businesses to run and their own areas of expertise to explore in detail.

I serve as a filter for them, trading my expertise for their attention. I’m also building loyalty with them and differentiating myself by saving them time.

All of you are experts at what you do; you know far more than your customers – that’s why they come to you with the same questions day after day. So put that expertise, that experience to work for you by sharing what you know and what you find valuable via social media.

Is it worth sharing?
How do you know if your content – what you’ve found or what you’ve created – is social-worthy?

Good social content should always pass two tests:
1.    Is it likely that your followers will want to share it with their followers?

2.    Second, will it incite your followers to comment on it?

Comments create content
The second test leads to one of the most compelling properties of social media. When lots of people comment on something you post, they’re essentially creating new content for you – on your behalf, as advocates for you.

Remember when Tom Sawyer got his friends to whitewash the fence for him? Perhaps credit for inventing social media marketing should go to Mark Twain.

Digital marketing expert Ron Cates, director of new market development for Constant Contact, is a popular presenter on the topics of social media and email marketing as well as host of Email Marketing Radio.


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The emphasis in social media is on being real and transparent and on speaking with a human voice. So an occasional misspelled word or use of imperfect grammar is not only acceptable, but is often viewed as refreshing and humanizing.

Ron Cates, Constant Contact

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