My friend Danny Brown’s post The BuzzFeed Economy and the Chase for Social Proof is to blame for the words you are reading now.
He got me thinking again about how people try to use numbers to prove and or disprove the influence of blogs/posts/people online.
Those of you who have been around for a while may remember I dislike the tyranny of social proof and agree wholeheartedly with what Danny says in his post.
I would add to it that sometimes we do ourselves a disservice by just quoting numbers without really thinking about the context.
There are 23 links below that were among the most popular posts on this blog during this last quarter.
A lazy person might take this information and say these posts are the best representation of the strength of the blog.
I’d argue against it because it is statistically unsound and because it is important to do more than just rely upon the headlines in these links.
We don’t know what the bounce rate is for these posts. We don’t know how many pageviews they generated, if there are backlinks or how many comments there are on these.
Hell, we haven’t even decided what metrics are most important for establishing what is truly influential and or representative.
All we have is a list that took me less than three minutes to create. Maybe that is all that is required to make a judgment, but if my kids were doing a report I’d tell them to dig into things and take another look.
But during the age of instant gratification people want fast and easy. There is a time and place for fast and easy, but there is also a time to do more than just prick the surface.
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Twenty-Three Links That Can Mean Anything
I can massage those numbers so that those 23 links can mean anything I want them to but that would be a disservice to both you and I.
If the point of this is to generate content that has value than we need to do better than just spit out some links that showed up on an analytics report.
We need to understand their significance or lack thereof and respond accordingly.
Ask my kids about the last few reports they worked on and they’ll tell you I pushed them not to get lazy and slide into summer.
If you are going to toss numbers around you might as well know why you are and be able to support it.
What do you think?