Social Networking Related Crimes Up 780 Percent — and Other Meaningless Statistics
These headlines are as meaningless as they are sensational. As our self-proclaimed social media scientists would surely be the first to tell us, unless there is a corresponding increase in overall offenses, it’s pretty much impossible to argue that social media is driving an increase in crime.
And if it’s not, what is the point of this kind of news coverage?
Oh yeah, to attract clicks by scaring people.
Well look, you don’t need to be scared of social media. And in general, you don’t need to pay attention to the flood of social media stats the news media throws at you daily, either.
Stephen Colbert said it best when he called the media’s context-free coverage of social media statistics during the 2012 presidential election “the greatest numbers-related reporting since Cronkite broke the horrific cannibal story that 7 8 9.”
If you’re a marketer, there’s another lesson here: trying to separate out the “social media” experience from the rest of a person’s life experience is a losing game — and increasingly, a meaningless one.
I like the way Jamie Butow of the Bakersfield Californian puts it: Social media “fills the gaps in our lives.” It integrates seamlessly into our daily routines, making it difficult to draw broad generalizations about its specific impact.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that you can’t track the successes of different online channels — SEO, PPC, your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — in engaging an audience or generating leads. At Idea Grove, we use tools like call tracking, marketing automation software and Google Analytics to be as precise as possible in identifying the specific sources of ROI.
But we also have to recognize that someone might become a customer via Facebook after originally being told about you by someone who read your blog post or did a Google search — or heaven forbid, even met someone from your company IRL.
What that 780 percent figure in the headline should tell you is that virtually all of us are using social networks today. Nothing more, nothing less.
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