I just had a great conversation about the great amount of BS that is shovelled around board rooms every day. In this particular case, a skeptical VP of Corp Comm was listening to a presentation and one of his peers put up a slide that stated that the company was in a global leadership position when everyone in the room knew that the company had just two small overseas offices. While "global leadership" might conceivably be in a long term plan somewhere it was very far from today's reality. And we all know it happens all the time, we just don't acknowledge the cost to the crediblity and authenticity of the speaker. The problem with today's reality is that it is so easy to fact check statements, that if you overstate a position, or exaggerate your achievements, the hard cold facts are only a click or two away. And the far more interesting conclusion of our converesation was how much more trust and credibilty is created if you just stick o those hard cold facts, even if it means speaking an uncomfortable truth.
What people don't seem to realize is how much lies can cost. Here are a few of the biggest whoppers I hear all the time.
1. We offer "Free WiFi"
What started me on this particular rant was the ubiquitous “Free wi-fi” offered by most hotels. Clearly you read the memo that said that the availability of wifi is a must have for hotels, but not the one that said that telling the truth was a good idea.
Yes, you have free wifi in the lobby, but I don’t chose to work sitting in a chair with my laptop on my balanced on my knees.
What you really mean is that if you want to get some work done in the privacy of your room,
it will cost you anywhere between $10and $20 a day. What does it really cost you to provide a decent internet connection in my room? How does that compare to the fact that I no longer trust your web site, so now I will actually have to call your hotel and take up time trying to verify exactly what you really mean by “free wifi” and I will comparison shop based on room rate + taxes +cost of wi-fi, not the artificially low price you put on Quikbook
2. I'm measuring results
No, having a Vocus/Radian 6 account is not measurement. That is monitoring. Presenting AVEs (Ad Value Equivalents) is not measurement. It's lying. To do measurement you have to have goals, metrics, a benchmark and a timeline. You have to build it into your plan, not just add it on at the end. Real measurement involves actualy doing something with the results. Drawing conclusion, making decis. ions and actually looking into the accuracy and meaning of the data.
Worse still, if you say you're measuring results and are just counting, you will never know what is working and not working, so your programs will never improve. Most organizations (and particularly their PR agencies) that confuse monitoring with measurement, use the resulting statitstics to justify their PR or social media budgets, And if you are justifying a program that isn't working, you pretty much ensure failure.
3. I'm measuring engagement
No, counting up the number of likes and followers you have is not measuring engagement in social media. Heck, even counting the number of views your video got on YouTube isn't measuring engagement. Engagement means that someone has taken an additional step beyond just viewing what you tossed out there. Unless they actually rate your video or comment on your blog or engagement in a conversation on Facebook, they're as likley to be couponers who more loyal to their wallet than your brand. The moment the competition puts a better coupon out there, they're gone. Unless you are actually putting interactions into a spread sheet and measuring improvement over time,
you're not measuring engagement.
And if all you're doing is counting likes and not looking for those far fewer but far more worthwhile truly engaged customers, you will not ony be missing a great opportunity, but giving the competition a great opportunity to pick them up and steal them away.
4. I'm benchmarking against the competition
Probably not. Certainly, taking the competition into consideration is a big step up from simply monitoring your own brand, but too often a "competitive analysis" is intentially or unintentionally biased because your data collection is inconsistent. Most competitive media analyses are set up with a standard media list and a standard set of search terms that include the brands being studied plus an assortment of market issues, topics or categories that apply to the industry you are in. And that is valid competitive analysis.
Until one day you get a call from John Smith who writes JohnSmith'sBlog.com which you realize isn't on your top tier list, but you had a great conversation with him at the last industry trade show. You spend many hours setting up the interview with your key widget wizard, and finally the blog post comes out and it contains all your key messages, plus a flattering photo of your widget wizard with your hot new product. So of course it must go into your measurment report.
The problem is that unless you also run a search in JohnSmith'sBlog.com for all mentions of the competition, you have now completely skewed the results in your favor. You may look great, but your results are flawed, and your credibility is shot with that bean counter trying to cut your budget.
5. I'm gaining influence
If you mean that your Klout score is going up, I can create a "bot" that will beat your Klout score in about an hour. All Klout measures is activity, and primarily on Twitter which is used by a very small portion of the online universe. If you are in the B2B space, or in an market that doesn't care about celebrity, or have influencers that don't compulsively post their every activity, you aren't gaining anything but skepticism in the board room. The downside is that while you're focusing on the popularity contest, your real fans and prospects are growing bored and looking for other places that are realy interesting.
I'm sure there are lots more examples out there.. feel free to add to this list