To make good business decisions, you need facts. We all know how fake news has infiltrated our lives. It’s easy to accept information that confirms our biases, I’ve done it, and I’d guess most folks have, because it’s easy to accept information at face value. It’s more difficult to vet the data. Researching facts takes time, a precious commodity.

Misinformation not only affects our daily lives, it impacts our businesses. Incomplete, outdated, and misrepresented information flood the interwebs. How many business decisions have been made using incorrect data?

Poor business decisions based on assumptions, half-truths, and incomplete research not only affect businesses, but customers, vendors, employees, and their families. Now more than ever it’s important to get the facts before jumping to conclusions.

Most Surveys are Opinions, not Facts  

While surveys can be a useful and informative tool in the decision-making process, they can also be misleading. For example, 7 Proofs that paid ads are a good tactic in content marketing, the title states it will share proof, but in fact, it shares opinions based on a survey not evidence. The seven “proofs” include:

  • 55% of marketers use banners ads
  • There are one million advertisers on Instagram
  • 76% of B2C marketers use promoted posts on social networks
  • 50% of marketers named video the best ROI
  • 54% of B2B marketers think search engine marketing is the most effective paid method of content marketing
  • B2B marketers are using more LinkedIn ads
  • Spending on native ads will reach 7.9 billion by 2018

While these points are interesting, none of them offer proof that paid ads are a good tactic for content marketers. I’m not saying paid ads can’t be effective. I’m saying this post doesn’t offer any proof on which to base a decision other than a lot of marketers are buying ads and they think it works. Does that translate to a demonstrable ROI for a specific business or industry? No, it doesn’t.

Know the Entire Story

It’s not only opinions, but also anecdotal references, and misunderstood statements, which are presented as fact. For example, take this quote, “1.8 Million Words that’s the value of one minute of video, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research. Do you have the time and energy to write 1.8 million words? That’s the equivalent of 3,600 typical web pages. If you write an average of one web page an hour, it would take you 150 days of writing to achieve the impact of one minute of video.” — 18 Big Video Marketing Statistics and what they mean for your Business.

The statement makes quite the point, doesn’t it? But how were the facts derived? Dr. James Mcquivey was having fun when he stated this in 2008. Yes, he wanted to make a point about the usefulness of video, but his quote wasn’t factual. Here’s how he calculated it.

  • If a picture is worth a thousand words
  • Video shoots 30 frames per second.
  • Therefore, every second of video is worth 30,000 words.
  • Multiply 30,000 by 60 seconds and it equals 8 million

Is it fun, even funny? Yes, it is. Does it paint a picture and make a point? Yes, it does. Should a business take this as fact? Absolutely not.

Do the Math

Ideas are too often presented as scientific proof when in fact the proof is questionable. For example, longer blog posts have been touted as more effective for garnering views and engagement. There may be some evidence of this, but once again buyer beware. Here’s an example of how information can be presented as fact, but is in fact, based on faulty reasoning. Is 1600 Words too long for a Blog Post?

Here’s my Point

If you’re responsible for making organization decisions, which affect you clients, teammates, and interested parties, do your research and get your facts before you make a decision. It’s easy to jump to conclusions, accept information that confirms your bias, and assume you know the answer without digging in. And when you fall into this trap it might adversely affect everyone who counts on you. Get the facts first.

Photo credit: timabbott via / CC BY-NC-ND