Manipulating content: reading half a story

27 Mar 2014

Numbers can be very useful when deciding what channels are right for you.

If I would say 82% of leads come from Twitter, would you hesitate to start a Twitteraccount? Probably not. And if I would say that LinkedIn has a 3x higher conversion rate, you would probably start it this instant.

But what if I were to tell you these two statistics at the same time, what would you make of it then?? Which channel would you choose? Which statistic would you believe?

A Dutch Twitteraccount called Community4Business is linking a lot to an article that claims that 82% of leads via social media come from Twitter. The article says that Twitter generates leads 9 times more than Facebook and LinkedInI also have this other article that says that LinkedIn has 3x higher visitor-to-lead conversion rate than Twitter or Facebook.

They are both true. They come from big reliable sources and have been checked by others. But they can hardly both be true at the same time, under the same conditions and restrictions, can they?

So what happened here?

You can’t show it all

Both researches asked question, checked out data and ended up with a a lot of numbers, a lot of content. That content was created with specific conditions. They researched B2B (Business2Business) or B2C (Business2Consumer) companies, looked at traffic to a website or actual sales, etc etc. Problem is the articles don’t have the space to reveal all these details. They just wanted to show the bigger picture.

So that is why the first article can talk about 9 to 1 leads from Twitter than Facebook and LinkedIn and the other about 3 times more from LinkedIn than Twitter and Facebook.

It might be that the first articles talked about traffic not about leads, or that the second article only looked at a certain kind of lead (B2B or B2C). We won’t know unless we get our hands on that original data, and chances of that are slim.

So what can we learn from this example?

Content can be used to your advantage

Content can be manipulated, showing what is most advantage to show. Maybe the article with 9 to 1 more leads via Twitter neglected to tell you that this only counts for a specific kind of target audience or for just one category of businesses. We won’t know.

So first and foremost next time you see content like this you have to remember you might only read half the story. The data might be great but you may miss an important piece of information. So never decide your channels purely on one piece of data, without checking yourself if your potential clients are there.

And then there is the other part… You can manipulate your content like that as well. Use only the best testimonials for your company, not those that were a bit on the fence about your service. Use the best data you can find to tell how much visitors you are getting, or how much conversion you have on your website.

Use it wisely and sparsely, for too much of it will certainly make you feel dishonest and not trustworthy. And that is certainly not my intention.

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