The evolution of social media to a largely 'paid for' channel has seen an important mental shift in an industry where 'paid' had always been a dirty word. The impact this has had on brands has been fascinating.

The likes of Facebook and Twitter have been charging marketers to put their messages out there for a long time. How they've charged has evolved over time, as they have learnt how to optimise the experience for consumers as well as their own commercial models. Frustrating as it might be that business and brand owners now, or at least soon will, have to pay for things they used to be able to do for free, this industry shift is not about to be reversed. As such the real question is how can business and brand owners make the most of every penny they now have to spend on these channels?

Simply put, brands can and should fail better.

Marketers are increasingly just testing and then sweeping failure under the carpet when it happens, largely due to a lack of time and increasingly tight budgets. The greatest wonder of the digital world is the ability it provides to measure everything and anything we want to. But is this data being analysed fully? Are the insights clearly defined and discussed? And most importantly does something different happen as a result?

Google is a brand and business that has plenty of failures under its belt. It also has plenty of successes though, many of which are sure to have come about because they have tried and failed before getting it right. For example, Google acquired Dodgeball in 2005 - a location based social networking software provider for mobile devices - only to close it in 2009, replacing it with Latitude.

Lego is another company that has learnt how to fail well over the last decade. Lego Universe, a massive multi-player online game, closed in 2012 - but it is clear to see from the editorial coverage and interviews with management that they had spent a lot of time and energy really understanding why it failed. They used these learnings to make a new improved video game released this year called Lego Minifigures Online. Jesper Vilstrop, Vice President of Lego Universe, claimed the failure of Lego Universe was put down to not being able to build a satisfactory revenue model so this new video game critically has a different revenue model. It also leverages their hugely popular collectables series of Minifigures.

Failing better requires two simple things:

1. Learn more - really take the time to look at the data you have at your disposal. If you need to, dig deeper, ask your customers what they think and speak to experts if needs be.

2. Do differently - place importance on action, on doing things differently in order to see whether you can reach a better outcome. But don't just talk about doing them. Actually do them.

Commit to these things on an ongoing basis and your business will benefit. There will still be failures. But they will be better failures, leading to better outcomes for your business and better content for your audience.


By Nina Rahmatallah, Director of Added Value. 

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