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Learn to Embrace Failure on Social Media


Failure is not an option, it is going to happen, which includes some of your efforts on social media.

This could be anything from a content series that you think is amazing, an innovative social outreach program, or a unique use of existing social media tools. It doesn’t matter.

You’ll craft well thought through plans, invest ample time and money, and believe beyond a shadow of doubt that what you’re working on will succeed in producing amazing results, but in some cases it won’t. It’ll fall flat, or even worse, outright fail.

Not everything you do is going to work. And that’s okay… it’s maybe even good.

Failure can be a tremendous learning opportunity.

Sometimes learning what doesn’t work is just as valuable as learning what does. It is beyond incredibly important to always be open to the idea of failure and that it will – and should – happen to you and the things you do on social media.

If you are open to failure, you’ll be better prepared to identify activity that isn’t working, determine what about it is causing the problem, and be able to put a plan in place to address any issues.

This could mean completely pulling the plug, which can save you a tremendous amount of time, agony and underperformance.

Alternatively, this could mean optimizing your efforts mid-stream, saving face, and turning what would have been a disaster into a triumphant success.

Finally, you simply might learn some valuable lessons to be applied to future efforts in the space.

However you look at it, embracing and acknowledging failure, can certainly be a positive experience.

If you never fail, you’re probably doing something wrong.

It is easy to think that if you never fail that you are probably doing many things right. And you very well could be.

The trouble is that if you never fail, you’re also probably not doing anything that is particularly innovative. By this, I don’t mean you need to be reinventing social media marketing every day of the week, but perhaps your strategic efforts are innovative within your category, in how you use a certain platform, as it pertains to the depth or breadth of information you share, in the level of access you grant your audience to your business, or any number of other similar things. Remember that innovation doesn’t have to be huge, it can be small, incremental or iterative.

If you don’t take any chances, never innovate or try something fresh and new for a fear of failure, then you’re also not likely to ever experience the great success that goes with being a leader.

Failure has never been safer than it is on social media.

The great thing about failing on social media (kind of funny to write that) is that it is such a fast-moving, dynamic and ever-present space that you will always have a chance to redeem yourself from your failures in short order.

Obviously reason needs to be applied here. Some failures are so spectacular that they are not redeemable, but if your social media marketing efforts are well thought through, I’m confident that you are smart enough to avoid such disaster, and to find positivity in your failure and be better for it in the long-run.


Do you have a plan or process in place to ensure you learn from failure and missteps?

Do you include a review of negative performance as part of your ongoing measurement and social media reporting?

Do you have any inspiring cases of when you have failed, learned or optimized, and then triumphed?

Do you know of any examples of typically socially savvy companies that have faltered on social media and how they rebounded?

It would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, on Twitter @RGBSocial, or anywhere else you might be able to track me down.

Join The Conversation

  • RGBSocial's picture
    Jun 5 Posted 2 years ago RGBSocial

    Hey Tracy - Thanks for the kind words, I'm happy that you enjoyed the piece. Also, I couldn't be in more agreement with the points you've made about the requirement of a strategy, aknowledgement of failure, as well as there being no 'one size fits all' approach.

    I hope you're having an awesome week. Cheers!


  • Tracy Sestili's picture
    Jun 5 Posted 2 years ago Tracy Sestili

    Great article Matthew. It's so important to have a strategy in place for each social network. I think the definition of failure is subjective and in many cases, people may not even know that they are failing or vice versa. But failure is inevitable, because there's no recipe for social media since it's not a one size fits all.

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