Winning the Internet

Failure is the key to success

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Man jumping off cliff

It may be hard to accept, but failure is one the keys to having success with new media.

For many organizers, the world of social media can be a scary place—full of good intentions turned sour, PR disasters, out-of-control messages, haters and trolls. However, with a little strategic planning and a willingness to put yourself out there, it can also be a land of passionate supporters turned advocates, touching stories turned media hits and petitions that spread like wildfire.

However, none of this is possible if you don’t put yourself out there.

Openness to learning—and even failing—is essential. If you think about the campaigns that are the most successful, they’re often edgy campaigns that push the envelope or use a tool in a new way.

Be willing to experiment

My advice: be willing to experiment. Try something bold and new. Just make sure you think it through ahead of time—this bold, new campaign must fit with your overall strategy and move you closer to your goal.

When you’re done with the campaign, assess what happened openly with your teammates. A culture of stress, where everything is always “too important” to take risks, can be toxic. It’s amazing how much you can learn by trying something for yourself and openly discussing how you’d do things differently next time.

Make time for learning

Setting aside a little bit of time each day or week to focus on learning can make trying new things a much more comfortable experience. If you’re pressed for time, make an effort to read up on best practices and case studies (this blog is a great source!)—there’s no need to completely reinvent the wheel. If you’ve got a little more time, test, test, TEST! Trying things is much less scary when you do a small test before rolling a campaign out full-scale.

Feel free to add a comment and let us know what kind of new things you’ve tried lately. (Even if they were failures!)

Photo: ‘Derek J’ by Phil Watt

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.


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