What Does Success Look Like?

This blog was posted by DK on July 16, 2015 as part of the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy. You can find out more about the project here.

desire paths

This question is the defining aid to developing any online idea. It’s one which usually leads to more questions, such as:

  • what benchmarking needs to be put in place (so achievement is known)
  • when is the most appropriate time to deliver (against other commitments)
  • what resources / capacity is needed to devote (to ensure maximum impact)

The challenge with success metrics though is that they are usually aligned heavily to the folks doing the defining. And just like any moving target, there are many other factors to take into the account. The biggest of which being the ‘other’ in the equation, which usually means, the customer, client, user, audience etc.

For several years I’ve been using the Desire Paths concept to illuminate this other side of the question. There are so many options online to do the same thing that naturally, it’s the audience who will define the success. And just like any good idea, it needs to be fluid in it’s consideration for change. Iterating upon decided metrics of success is key to staying relevant especially in a space which is in constant flux.

What starts out as a campaign to get more of your audience to sign up to your email newsletter might very quickly turn into an exercise in commenting as a way to deepen relationships. A Facebook engagement campaign might transition into a video-based narrative piece.

The point is, even the best online strategies need to have enough room to not offer all the answers, but instead, be trusting in the communities ability to create value and follow their lead. Just like:

In Finland, planners are known to visit their parks immediately after the first snowfall, when the existing paths are not visible. People naturally choose desire paths, clearly marked by their footprints, which can be then used to guide the routing of new purpose-built paths.
Via Desire Paths, Wikipedia

Image credit: Wikipedia CC License

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