The danger of perfectionism in social media

Our Social Media Manager, Sarah A. Parker, likes to opine on all things social media from time to time, so we’ve given her space to do just that here on our blog. She’ll cover everything from the new and unusual to the outdated and annoying. Got something she missed our something you’d like her to cover? Find her on Twitter @SparkerWorks


I do a lot of reading every day, around social media, marketing, and every other possible conceivable topic. (It’s important to get out of the jargon bubble frequently, lest everything you write be a terror of buzzwords lacking substance.) I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perfectionism and social media, mainly because I am both a perfectionist* and a Social Media Manager.

Recently I read this piece from Marketo’s blog and it touched on some of the points I’d been mulling over myself, mainly that procrastination and perfectionism go hand-in-hand. You can’t start something unless conditions are perfect, right? Then when you have to hastily put it together right before deadline you either turn out something brilliant or you tell yourself it failed because you didn’t have perfect conditions to work in.

I did this to myself up through grad school (not recommended) and it’s a tough work pattern to break out of after practicing it for twenty-odd years. I have in large part overcome it by taking a more experimental approach, which you have probably noticed by now is one of my soapboxes.

Probably the best thing about science- at least in my opinion- is how it can be applied to everyday life; it’s simply a system for figuring out the natural world around us, after all. Why not take the same principles and throw them at your social strategy and see what sticks? The key is that you need that structure and to be smart about it. Just trying things wildly isn’t going to give you any kind of concrete results you can replicate in the future.

So you also need to set parameters around your social experiments, even going so far as to manipulate one variable at a time if you want strict results. The two biggest keys to success, to me? Keep in mind that:

  1. It’s never a failure if you learn something (and there is ALWAYS something to be learned) and
  2. Approach the beginning of any project like it’s a first draft (because it pretty much is)

Giving yourself the freedom to put absolute crap down because it’s a first draft will get you started and that’s often all it takes to break the cycle of perfectionist procrastination. You’re tired, it’s late, you could just do it tomorrow, but why not just throw a few ideas into a new doc and start from there in the morning when you’re fresh? And if you do get a good idea going, it might just perk you up enough to continue to a reasonable stopping point.

The bottom line? The pace of social doesn’t allow you to wait for “perfect” conditions, so take an informed stab at it.


*I was very angry when my best friend informed me of this when we were young teenagers. “I am NOT!” I protested, wanting desperately to be laid-back and cool. (I was not cool.) 

“Uh-huh,” she said, and moved something in my closet so that it was out of place. I instantly wanted to fix it. 

“. . .Oh.” I said. Self-acceptance reluctantly followed after.  She grew up to be a counselor, which is probably not surprising. 


Featured image via Unsplash