The social media community is fascinated with “home runs” – campaigns that are wildly successful, or things such as videos that enjoy tremendous viral traction. This explains why the recent Old Spice campaign was covered with so much bubbly enthusiasm.
What doesn’t get much attention is social media failures, unless they’re major disasters such as Motrin’s infamous “Moms” campaign, or Nestle’s troubles on Facebook related to a Greenpeace report about its palm oil efforts in Indonesia.
The reality is social media “home runs” are few and far between, while the landscape is strewn with failures. Failure, however, isn’t as sexy as success, particularly in an emerging market in which many players are valiantly battling to convince clients to join the social media revolution. If you’re selling social media, it makes no sense to highlight things that don’t work well.
That said, failure is something that should be embraced and discussed. As much as success is great, there are a lot of valuable lessons that can be learned from examining efforts that didn’t work.
Failure offers insight into activities that were not effective and didn’t resonate with users. By putting the spotlight on failure, companies can get a better handle on the best ways to approach social media while avoiding strategic and tactical pitfalls.
Instead of shunning failure, it needs to be embraced.
If a campaign falls flat, it should be thoroughly examined to determine what went wrong and why. A key part of this process is diligently monitoring and measurement social media activities to get empirical information about what happened, compared to what was expected to happen.
By accepting failure as a positive rather than a negative, it lets companies experiment with social media without being overly skittish about something not working well.
Despite the hype, we’re still at a stage in which experimentation is an important part of the market’s evolution.
If we’re afraid to experiment because failure is a possibility, the social media market won’t grow as quickly and, as important, it will be a lot less interesting landscape.