Yes, Some Social Media Programs Will Fail

CNET News reports that Gartner analyst Adam Sarner thinks half of social media campaigns will be classified as failures.

News flash: that goes way wider than social media campaigns.

  • Roughly 60 per cent of restaurants fail within three years (Business Week)
  • 50-54 per cent of small Canadian businesses fail within three years (Industry Canada)
  • 70 per cent of public sector IT projects fail (Computer Weekly)

Afraid to measure success?

Measuring rule Stats like those above make it all the more important that we are able to measure and define success. It’s a critical part of increasing the credibility of social media programs (and public relations, too, for that matter). Unfortunately, it’s also a missing piece in many case studies.

Some people skirt around measurement with talk of the ‘secret sauce’ of their programs. Others avoid it altogether. It takes guts to honestly assess the success of your work.

Another news flash: Companies measure the things they care about.

If you don’t measure, how can you prove your value, and how do you expect people to value your work?

It’s not enough to post dozens of blog posts or sign-up a certain number of followers/subscribers/friends/whatever. What does your program accomplish?

Measurement starts at the beginning

This kind of thinking has to start at the outset of the project:

  • Define project objectives that link to business objectives
    • If you’re in an agency, how will your client’s success be measured?
  • Measure where you are now against those objectives
  • Measure and report on your progress
  • Adjust your program based on your reports

Fact: some social media programs will fail.

Most businesses will fail, too. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start a new one.

  • Well-made points, Dave.

    I find it ironic that “experts” are trying to pick up on something else to try and rubbish – is it just another way to distract from the real news, you know like the economy?

    Of course some campaigns will fail – but like you said, so do over half of businesses in the first 3 years (if they even make it past the first 12 months).

    The truth of the matter is that the campaigns that fail will probably be ill thought out and run by agencies/companies that have no idea what social media is – they just know it’s the buzzword of the moment so they need something in it.

  • Personally I think that quoting a statistic like that is just a cheap marketing tactic to get people to pay attention. My question yesterday when I saw the stat was “How many non-Social Media marketing campaigns are deemed to be failures?” I wonder if the number would be any different. But hey, if the number was almost the same you wouldn’t need Gartner tell you what to do, would you?

  • My friend Ed had a theory on statistics that stated that the odds of ANYTHING happenening were 1 in 3. Odds of a meteor wiping out Houston? 1 in 3. Odds of the Chargers winning the Super Bowl? 1 in 3. Odds of me having a sandwich for lunch? 1 in 3. Odds of a coin toss coming up heads? 1 in 3. It’s those other 2 times out of 3 when something doesn’t happen that it’s hard to disprove.