Talking About Failure Leads To Success

You had some big successes in social media last year. Here's the thing: you had even more failures. And, that's to be expected. Success can happen without failure, but they’ll be small successes. Big successes come hand-in-hand with some happy failures.

So, go out there and talk about your successes. But also talk about your failures. Social media is new. You don't know what you're doing. There are few experts. There are just a lot of people with unique skill sets that make them more likely for social media success.

Don't be secretive -- share. After all, if you work in social media, your failures are already public. Celebrate them. Share the lessons. Be proud that you tried, failed and came back out swinging to win the next round.

If you're lucky enough to focus solely on social media in your job, a recent survey by Ragan/NASDAQ found that 42% of you are a department of one and 40% of you are a department of two to three. That means of companies with dedicated social media teams, 82% of those teams wouldn't have enough people to pull together a game of Hearts during their lunch breaks.

The survey found these dedicated social media teams accounted for 27% of respondents. A substantial 65% of respondents said they do social media on top of other, current responsibilities -- aka, they are not 100% focused on social media.

So, it's not surprising that there are few experts out there. 10,000 hours -- that's the commonly accepted amount of time it takes to become an expert at something. Imagine you worked 60 hours a week, every week. Let's say you did this 48 weeks of the year (to account for some holidays, sick days, etc.). It would still take you 3.5 years to become an expert at social media. And, that's if you were working on social media for the entirety of those 60 hours of those 48 weeks of those 3.5 years.

More likely, you probably average 50 hours a week of work. Of that, you'd probably be lucky to get in a solid 30 hours focused on social media. You've now doubled your expert qualification timeline to seven years.

Keep in mind: Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter are all under seven years old. YouTube just turned seven. Facebook and LinkedIn -- those are the ones you could be an expert in given the above scenario.

That means if you want to be an expert, you have to be a broker of experiences. You need to trade stories of successes and failures. Go to a conference and present a case study of your single biggest success and your single biggest failure from 2012. Sit on a panel, be confident in your approach -- and, at the same time, admit what you don't know. Reach out via Twitter to someone who does what you do, go grab lunch or a drink, laugh over shared mistakes and toast well-earned achievements.

Arguably the most successful social marketing (or brand marketing, or digital content marketing, or whatever you want to call it) venture in 2012 was the Red Bull Stratos space walk. Its first attempt was aborted when high winds toppled the balloon during liftoff. And, leading up to the launch, space walker Felix Baumgartner suffered from massive claustrophobia that required professional help to conquer. Those are some big hiccups.

Don’t be afraid. Double or triple your experience by borrowing from others. It’s not like you’re mounting an expedition to space. And, even if you were, you can see it’s still okay to fail.

Tags: social media
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1 comment about "Talking About Failure Leads To Success".
  1. David Carlick from Carlick , January 2, 2013 at 4:35 p.m.
    An interesting observation and great advice. I would quibble that 10,000 hours is the level for 'mastery' versus expertise, and that most 'social media' professionals have more than a few thousand hours in using all the various forms of social media prior to even getting the job.