One of the things you can always guarantee whenever a social media conference comes around is all the tweetable soundbites that ensue.
From mind-blowing statistics to feel-good messages, there’s never any shortage of social updates or blog posts that share the best of the best from these conferences.
And, sometimes, you do actually get some great insights from these types of conference, and they deliver on the often-exuberant price for tickets.
And then there are the quotes and statistics that make you go, “Hmm, really?” so you decide to check it out.
The ensuing result is usually a little different from the buzzworthy?soundbite that’s being shared across the web.
You Wouldn’t Eat Out of Date Food, Would You?
A good example of this is the annual Social Media Marketing World shindig put on by Social Media Examiner. It gathers over 100+ (maybe even 200+) speakers for its event in San Diego.
The lead speakers are the usual suspects that speak at the event every year, and then you have the speakers for whom the event is an opportunity to reach a wider audience.
For me, it’s these “secondary” and “tertiary” tier of speakers that actually offer the value – but they’re usually not the ones getting the soundbite love. Which is a shame, since they’re not using out-of-date statistics that get widely shared.
From a post that shares “50 brilliant social media insights” from the conference,
As a statistic, that’s pretty impressive and damning at the same time.
Impressive, as it’s clear social is increasingly the channel of customer satisfaction; damning, as that’s a pretty high number of people unhappy with brands.
Except… when you look into the data that statistic is from, it’s a two year old survey by Dutch survey agency TNS Nipo?(that link is to the Dutch original – you can use Google Translate or see an English snapshot here).
In any kind of research, two year old data can be out of date pretty fast. In terms of social media, two years is a lifetime.
[clickToTweet tweet=”In social media, data that’s two years old is a lifetime. #relevance #insights” quote=”In social media, data that’s two years old is a lifetime.”]
Add to the fact that the original study is about how companies in Holland are perceived, and using that stat for a North American event might be a little misplaced, given the cultural differences and use of social media between the continents.
It’s All Fun and Games Until You Need to Sleep!
It’s not always statistics about customers, and how brands need to shape up or ship out when it comes to social, that makes the tweetable rounds.
Sometimes, it can be inspirational quotes to make you feel like you can do anything.
And it’s true. We do all get 168 hours per week. As my wife likes to say when quoting Empire Records, “there’s 24 usable hours in every day”.
Well, except when we want to sleep… though I get the point, as that can fall into the eight usable hours for sleep, or however many hours you need personally.
But to the “we all get 168 hours” quote. It stems from a book called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, by Laura Vanderkam. In it, the author shares her insights about making better use of our time, as well as the thoughts of others who have identified how to make the most of the time we have.
As a call-to-action to live more fulfilling lives on our own schedule, it’s great. As a realistic option? Maybe not so much.
While the book offers some thoughtful early insights, as it progresses the author switches it up a little, and the advice boils down to if you want to do less time doing the mundane things like laundry, dishes, even just looking after your kids etc, then just hire someone. This will free up the time you need to relax and do more personal things.
Erm… okay. That works if you’re a successful author. A day-to-day person and parent? Not so much.
A Percentage of a Percentage of a Percentage Equals…
Perhaps the most shareable of statistics is the kind that shows an almost overwhelming, mind-boggling number that pushes you back in your chair and burns your eyeballs with the sheer volume of the statistic.
These are the ones that immediately have you pumping your fist and shouting, “Hell yeah, social media!”
Such a case would be when a percentage is almost as complete as you can be.
98% – I don’t care what your math expertise is, that’s an impressive number by anyone’s standards.?Especially when you take into account that Pinterest is sitting around the 50 million active users mark in the US.
So, of course, it’d be great to get a little more background to this stat.
The figure used in the slide from the image above is taken from the Pinterest Media Consumption Study created by US agency Ahalogy, whose goal is to make marketing on Pinterest easy for brands and content creators.
When you look at their study in depth, they describe their methodology.
The?Ahalogy 2014 Pinterest Media Consumption Study?surveyed?1,300 males and females ages 15+ across the United States?between February 26 and March 11, 2014. Of the 1,300 people?surveyed, 500 were active Pinterest users, meaning that they?use Pinterest at least once a month.
1,300 isn’t a bad number to offer a representation of the public for a survey, though maybe a small ratio for something with millions of users like Pinterest.
Of that 1,300, only 500 were active Pinterest users. 500. Which is just less than 38.5%. So, to the image from the Social Media Marketing World talk, it’s more like 98% of 38.5% try something new – a little less impressive (though still not a number to sneeze at).
[clickToTweet tweet=”We need to all be better, and push for the data beyond the insights. #data #marketing” quote=”We need to all be better, and push for the data beyond the insights.”]
But when you’re talking about 500 users as an indicative number, versus almost 40% of 45 million users, and that is then used as a statistic at a conference where it’s re-shared as an important statistic…. you can see where I’m going with this.
A percentage of a percentage of a percentage isn’t all that much of a percentage after all.
Quotes Are Great, But Insights Are Better
While sharing statistics and numbers makes for great soundbites, the data needs to be current and addressed (in all fairness, it may be that both Jay and Peg advised the audience of the background behind the tweets shared in this post).
If an audience is looking to take away knowledge from a speaker’s session, or an event, or a panel, etc., going away with two year old data, or numbers that don’t tell the whole story, isn’t going to cut it.
The insights given by an event’s speakers relate to the data they share. If the data isn’t relevant to today’s market, the insights lose a bit of weight, and tie into the whole eleventy billion mindset.
We need to all be better, and push for the data beyond the insights. It’s how we learn as people and grow as businesses. Big can be great; focused is usually much more effective.
Something to keep in mind, both as a speaker and an attendee, the next time you’re about to share a quotable statistic.