There is often a major difference in data you see on blogs and websites presented as research, science or fact and actual research, science or fact. The problem is that content marketing has overcome the sensibilities of many content providers and the inbound link or catchy headline is held in higher esteem that presenting fair and accurate information that is truly helpful to the audience.

It’s the difference in producing data for content purposes and data for insight purposes.

While snazzy infographics and snapshot looks at a software company’s user data is interesting and often produces some nice thought starters, too often, the individuals or companies producing such data present them as fact — thought enders — as if they’ve tested all of the possible variables and this statistic produced by the 20-minute spreadsheet studying of a 20-something copywriter is suddenly chapter and verse on how to do something in digital marketing.

Real researchers know that you don’t analyze data looking to confirm your suspicions. You let the data lead you down many paths of questions, resulting in more tests, hypotheses and even more tests before you can begin to conclude or declare a certain behavior to be better than another.

Not to mention, the aggregated user data of one software company may not have a single shred of commonality with your business, your market, your competitors, etc. So following its recommended best time to do something or best words to use in saying something or even best platform to use versus another is basing your decisions on unintelligent conclusions.

Tom Webster of Edison Research (and an SME contributor) will be talking a lot deeper, not to mention with a lot more credibility on the subject, at Explore Dallas-Fort Worth on February 17. I caught up with him last week to talk about marketing, social media and data. (And stick around for the last question, which had me ask him what he does to stay so awesome. His answer almost made me pee.)


You won’t want to miss the business insights Tom has to give at Explore Dallas-Fort Worth. He’ll be speaking there, along with an all-star lineup that includes Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, Zena Weist of Edelman Digital, Aaron Strout from WCG, Nichole Kelly of Full Frontal ROI, DJ Waldow from Waldow Social and more. The event will also feature a number of excellent software providers and companies to help you navigate the waters of digital marketing. They’ll bring their knowledge to share as well as their products. This is a must-attend event, so register now!

The first 100 registrants get the full day’s content, breakfast, lunch (by Wolfgang Puck Catering) and a cocktail reception for just $250! The full price of the event is $400, so save $150 now and reserve your spot.

Explore is a five-city conference event series from Social Media Explorer and presented by Expion and Raven Internet Marketing Tools. Learn more and sign up for email updates for the city nearest you at socialmediaexplorer.com/product/events.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://twitter.com/JanetAronica Janet Aronica

    I liked this conversation and found it really helpful for me as someone working for a “big data” kind of place. I certainly (still) hope to share some cool stats with our content, but hearing these thoughts helped me understand just how careful we need to be in how we present it.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Janet. I’m very familiar with your content, and that of your companies (previous and present) and love it. I think the point that anyone sharing aggregated user data or infographics with the world is probably doing a good job of providing food for thought, etc., might get lost here. We love a good stat more than anyone, but when those stats are offered up as solid proof, it can be a little murky. Data for content is not bad data. It’s just sometimes squeezed out on deadline to make sure you’ve got good content rather than run through a full-on scientific process to see if it holds up to rigorous questioning or testing.

      Glad we could help you see that. The fact you said you need to be careful in how you present it is a home run in my book.

      Thanks for the comment! Keep doing the good work, too.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a tough act to balance when you’re publishing well known data and trying to put a “spin” on it, rather than just taking an innovative stance on a topic and defending it until you’re either proven wrong or hit a break through. Great points here. 

  • http://twitter.com/FakeDanZarrella Dan Fucking Zarrella

    Such utter crap.  My data is SCIENCE!  Which you obviously do not understand.   (Please Retweet)

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