Beware of Bullshit from Conferences

I’m not usually one to post such a negative title. But I want to make sure that you’re all aware of what is happening out there.

I attend many conferences.  I find value in the education and in the networking. More often than not I will meet someone or a group of people that will end up becoming valuable associates, good friends or even clients (although this rarely happens – but one never knows). And I will always attend and promote conferences.

However, something has been happening recently that I need to direct your attention to it.

In the social media and communications world – which I live and work in – there are many so called facts that people use to promote the value of social media or even why (expensive) tools or services should be purchased and used.  What’s the big deal with this? Nothing. If it’s true. But a whole lot is wrong if false examples are used to illustrate the point.

This first came to my attention on a panel I sat on discussing social media. It was hosted by a young professional network. The lie: United Airlines lost market share, market value and revenues as a result of United Breaks Guitar. Many articles have been written assuming that United lost money. The facts are far from clear but I stand to be corrected.

The latest was from a conference I attended last week hosted by a company which was recently purchased by SalesForce. The lie? That in recent history the team that has won the World Series in baseball has had more singles (than any other type of hit) than everyone else. The point was to tell people to be satisfied with hitting singles in life rather than swinging for the fences (dream small versus dreaming big).  Fair enough. But the fact of the matter is that the story used to illustrate the point is 100% incorrect.

According to my numbers (I had someone who works in stats on a daily basis help me out – the “fact” sounded fishy to me), since 2000, only 2 teams with most singles overall have won the World Series: The 2012 Giants and 10 years earlier, the 2002 Angels.

Sigh. I don’t know how many Tweets and ReTweets the original statement received. I do know it filled my timeline.

My suggestion: Before taking any action on what you hear at conferences, do your own research. And don’t be afraid to call the bullshitters out.

End of rant.