Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 17, 2009 9:23 PM

Defining Failure

Not enough people come to our website. No one comments on this Blog. There are not enough people following us on Twitter. We need to find a way to get more people to our Facebook Page.

All of those (and there are many more where those came from) are common complaints, gripes and general worries you hear every day from Marketers. It's easy to look at what the competition is doing and think that you're failing when you compare the two. The truth is, you can only fail if you had an initial strategy and defined goals and metrics prior to doing anything at all.

The real truth is that most brands don't really have any set definition for what, exactly, failure is. Marketers panic by simply comparing themselves to others instead of benchmarking themselves against their own key performance indicators.

Yes, there are many times when our own KPIs are a little off, or the market shifts, or we were simply a little too enthusiastic when we created our goals in the first place. All of those are easy to adjust and navigate. The real problems and stresses are compounded when things are being done with no rhyme or reason. Before today, having several thousand people following you on Twitter with a significant amount of people retweeting your content and engaged in both community and conversation was enough. But now, Ashton Kutcher has one million followers.

If Twitter was always just a numbers game to see how many people you can get to follow you, all bets are off. Monday is going to roll around and you're going to get a phone call from the CEO asking why Ashton Kutcher can get one million people to follow him and why your brilliant brand can't.

The real way to to fail at anything and everything in the online channels is to base what you're doing on the sheer volume of traffic. That's one of the fundamental issues with everything that happened on Oprah today as she introduced Twitter to the rest of the world.

Success is looking at who is taking part in your conversation, and what the engagement is based on what the overall strategy was for getting involved in the first place. Failure is not ignoring these platforms. Failure is not having a solid strategy in place, and then falling victim to the "how come there aren't that many people following us?" traditional mass media mindset.

By Mitch Joel