July 05, 2008

My Social Media Failures

You've probably observed this in your field of expertise.
  • Individual executes a marketing strategy.
  • Marketing strategy succeeds.
  • Individual is lauded as a visionary.
What if the strategy succeeded because of luck, or fate, or timing? Is the person still a genius?

Since late 2004, I've started three different blogs, and one podcast series --- four social media experiments in total.

Only The MineThatData Blog gained traction. The other two blogs averaged between six and twelve visitors a day. The podcast series averaged twenty-five downloads per episode.

Am I a visionary, or is the law of large numbers working in my favor?

In one of my blogs, I employed every strategy I employed for this blog. I ended up with two folks linking to the blog after writing three hundred blog posts over two years. The target audience for that blog was much larger, and more rabid than this blog. And yet, the effort was a gigantic failure.

Social Media pundits are going to tell you what you should do. They're going to refer back to their successes, telling you that it worked for them, so it will work for you. There are thousands of bloggers who go down this path every day, filled with authority. They tried one blog, and it worked, so they are an expert.

The reality is that every activity has a probability of success. If you are willing to try, to fail, you'll come across the occasional success.

In my case, I have a 25% success rate, good enough to make a living, lousy enough to show that I'm human and that "this stuff doesn't always work." Be wary of those folks who tell you they have the formula for success --- they may not have tried enough strategies to fail.


  1. Anonymous2:16 AM

    Lately you have been very down on yourself--using words like mistakes and failures to describe your efforts. You ok?
    To your point, is someone still a genius because marketing strategy succeeded because of luck/fate/timing?
    Thomas Edison has two great quotes that apply:
    1. "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99$ perspiration." Everyone has an idea for a great marketing strategy, but success is built on effort, not just luck/fate/timing.
    2. To your point about failure, again, Edison pointed out "I didn't fail 2,000 times before coming up with the lightbulb---I learned 2,000 times what didn't work". What did you learn from your other efforts? Post about that.
    Your other blogs dealt with what? Do you have books on those subjects? You succeeded with Minethatdata because of the recognition for your books and referrals from others like Avinash(comment by him quoted below) or linked to Seth Grodin and other experts in the field. You also succeeded because of your experience, your well-thought original posts, and your constant posting(300 in two years? You've posted almost 300 in just last year alone here).
    Are you a "recognized expert" in the other subjects or just an amateur enthusiast that wrote 300 posts? Are your thoughts as original as those posted here?
    Did you give your other media entries the same passion? More time? Word of mouth rarely lead to overnight successes--you grow the brand much like you have grown minethatdata.
    PS. Where are the podcasts? :-)
    From Avinash:
    If you want to get very good at the multichannel game then please allow me to recommend the book Multichannel Forensics by Kevin Hillstrom

  2. You mention that I was a recognized expert.

    If we were to rewind the clock back to early 2005, only the handful of folks who worked with me and chose to view my work favorably knew of me. The books and blog were part of a strategy to help folks feel comfortable hiring me, to help folks feel like I was a recognized expert --- not the other way around.

    The key issue to address is luck. Somebody could try a thousand things before hitting on the right one ... others hit it on the first try. Our society loves to laud the one who hits it on the first try. I "succeeded" on the third try.

  3. Anonymous9:14 PM

    You mention luck but honestly you have invested very hard work into the blog and well before the blog.
    I am at a disadvantage as I don't know what your other blog topics were, but I don't think you succeeded on third try because of luck.
    The topics of this website focus on an area that is rarely covered, that you offer from a great wealth of experience, and built from a myriad of thoughtful original posts. You say book came after blog took off, but how much did your books help your blog? How much did your speaking engagements help your blog?
    You decry "the pundits" a few times in your blog but to be honest, in many topics you are THE pundit, the only one commenting and the one whom others in the field refer to as the weathervane and they all quote your biography when referring to you.
    You were an expert before you started sharing your expertise on your blog. And the blog, the books, and your speaking engagements reinforced and built that image.
    You sell yourself, and your success is built on that, not luck.
    To learn from your blog experience needs an honest unmuzzled appraisal, not to sell yourself short with "luck".
    Yours truly, a fan...

  4. I hope I'm not a pundit, at least as I define one!

    There is no doubt that the blog and books interact in a way that is like 3x3=9, not like 3+3=6.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Cost Differences

Do you remember Bernie Mac in Oceans Eleven ... negotiating van prices? Muttering nonsense about Aloe Vera while squeezing the sales dude...