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Friday, April 27, 2012

Social Slam: Knoxville Social Media Conference

I'm attending Social Slam today, a social media conference hosted in Knoxville. There have been some really great insights today, and I would definitely recommend checking out the #soslam topic on Twitter for all the highlights. It's trending in Knoxville - I'm pretty sure anyone in Knoxville who tweets is probably here today! There are some great speakers and a great audience as well.

Although everything has been really great, my favorite session so far was from Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy at Edison Research (@Webby2001). He did a keynote called "Drowning in Data: How to Save Yourself," that really hit home on several key points. There's a huge difference between good, usable data and random numbers, and which one you are getting really comes down to if you are asking the right questions. People go to social media for answers, assuming it can tell them what their customers want or even who will win the presidential election. But ultimately, "Social media alone will never give you answers, but it will give you better questions."

Another point he touched on was what I am calling "infographic spam." The point of a good infographic, as Webster said, is to display really complex information in a way that makes it immediately apparent to the viewer. However, most of what we see online calling itself "infographics" is just information trying to be more attractive, trying to get more clicks. And frequently this type of simplified information is misleading.

Before trusting statistics, infographics, or studies, remember to check methods. Find out who ran it, where they got the numbers, and who they got the numbers from.

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