Writing a blog has been an interesting experience. While I often include my own personal thoughts and opinions, I also try to include useful information paired with hard data. As a result, when I come across an interesting statistic or a quote by an industry leader, I try to include it in my blog post (complete with a link). This habit comes from my journalism training. Plus I hope it makes the articles more interesting and useful.
The other day I came across a link to an interesting blog post that included a very startling “fact” about social media use by small businesses. It said that 65 percent of small businesses don’t use social media at all. Naturally I clicked the link to the article. It repeated the startling fact and included links to the sources for the statistic. Because I wanted to know more, I clicked the links.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the links wasn’t valid and the other link went to a study that didn’t include the statistic mentioned. In fact, the data mentioned on the study could be interpreted to mean the exact opposite of what was quoted in the blog post. It mentioned that 64 percent of small businesses use social media for answering customer questions. No mention at all of businesses not using social media.
This misrepresentation of the data left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Rather than adding this blogger to my RSS reader and quoting him in this blog, I’ll never trust what he has to say again. By fiddling with the data to create a catchy headline, he lost a reader forever.
I’m all for using surprising or startling facts in your blog posts or headlines. They make for interesting reading. Just make sure that the “facts” are true. Otherwise, you’ll lose me as a reader, customer and referrer.
Andrea J. Stenberg