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.

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.