Failing forward in social: The ultimate growth hack
As a Virgo, I often blame my perfectionism on my astrological sign. Ever since I could remember, I have been a naturally competitive person—whether that was in the classroom, playing video games or even choosing which college I attended.
That competitive spirit carried over into my job search, too.
After applying for over 100 social media associate jobs, I was only invited to interview for three companies. Out of which only one gave me an offer. I couldn’t fathom why I wasn’t receiving more opportunities and I certainly wasn’t used to experiencing this level of rejection.
The reality is we all encounter failure in our lives, no matter how much we all want to avoid that sinking feeling. But with every disappointment comes an opportunity to learn from what went wrong and come back stronger than before—it just takes a bit of reframing to find that silver lining.
3 ways to turn failure into a growth opportunity
From not getting the job to having an idea shot down, social marketers experience all kinds of failures in their careers. Here are several tips to help you get the most out of each of the following three scenarios:
When you don’t get the job
As more businesses invest in social marketing, the demand for social marketers will continue to grow—meaning the competition for those roles will only become tougher. If you applied to hundreds of jobs and only heard back from a handful, the job hunt can start to take a toll on you.
If you don’t get the job, it can suggest that you may be better qualified for a different position or there’s a culture mismatch. If a job interview doesn’t go your way, take these steps to make the most out of your rejection:
- Identify areas to grow your skills. Rather than hang your head low, use this opportunity to reach out to the recruiter and ask for feedback on what could make you a standout candidate. Are there certain skills you can focus on developing, such as strengthening your written communication skills or your ability to build connections? Feedback from an interviewer can help you pinpoint the expertise you need to shore up to become the strongest candidate possible for any social media job.
- Evaluate if this job is the right fit. A rejection is the perfect time to reevaluate if the company culture was the right fit for you. Sure, you may have wanted the job, but is this a company that values their social media team or treats every social marketer as “another intern?” This is a great opportunity to evaluate what you’re looking for in a potential workplace and determine if a future employer has your best career interests and goals top of mind.
- Press pause on the job search. If you’re regularly applying to every job posting available, take a moment to step back. Although it’s good to push yourself, a better strategy would be to apply for roles at companies you admire. Being selective about the roles you pursue gives you more time to focus on your application and ensure you’re putting your best foot forward during each interview.
When your idea gets shot down
Suppose you have an idea for a new campaign that you think is the Michael Jordan of all campaign ideas. Presentation day arrives, you pitch your vision but the team decides to go with a different idea.
In this situation, it can be tough not to interpret rejection as a personal failing. But this is also a chance to directly ask your colleagues what went wrong and why they went in another direction. Once you’ve processed this rejection, turn this experience into a growth opportunity:
- Assess the strength of your idea. Just because your idea wasn’t selected doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. It just might not have been the right idea for a specific goal your team was trying to achieve. As you evaluate the strength of your idea, consider the context in which it was shared and if you addressed your team’s primary objectives. Timing is everything, and sometimes a great idea is rejected because it doesn’t solve for an immediate problem or need.
- Ask for feedback. If you feel comfortable, ask your colleagues what you could have done differently to make your pitch presentation as strong as possible. I know how hard it can be to receive negative feedback, but you cannot grow if you don’t know what you need to improve on. You may also want to ask for advice on how to strengthen your presentation skills to ensure you’re framing your idea in ways that captivate your audience.
When a project doesn’t go according to plan
Whether your campaign failed to reach the goals you set for it or you had to unexpectedly adjust your plans for social, there are a few ways your original idea may have missed the mark. Instead of labeling these campaigns as failures, this is an opportunity to learn what went well and where you can improve for your next big project.
First, start by naming the problem. Did your social campaign fall short of your awareness goals, or did you struggle to meet your engagement benchmarks? Once you’ve diagnosed the issue, you can investigate where things went wrong and what you can do differently next time with these steps:
- Dig into the data. As you review campaign analytics, look for fluctuations in your campaign performance that could indicate where things went wrong. For example: if you noticed a dip in pageviews, consider what other activities might have negatively influenced your campaign during that time period. If you changed the posting time or a branding element on a Tweet, how did that adjustment influence your engagements or impressions? Taking a closer look at your social metrics and comparing them against your goals can help illuminate why a campaign didn’t perform as well as you hoped.
- Share your findings with others. Once you review your performance data, create a summary of what worked and what could be improved. Then create a social media report filled with your findings and observations to share with your team members, managers and even leadership. Sharing this data, even when a campaign didn’t go according to plan, is a valuable resource for your entire team to learn from what went well and where to adjust strategies or budget in the future.
Fail fast to get ahead in your career
Everyone experiences failure or rejection at some point in their professional career—none of us are immune to it. What matters is how marketers process that experience and turn it into a learning opportunity that will benefit their future growth.
When marketers reframe how they perceive failure, they’ll not only get over those experiences quicker but also come out much stronger than they were before. If you’re ready to take your social media career to the next level, download this career growth template to complete a personalized career plan today.
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