Over the past week I have seen two of the most horrific examples of why research is so important. It is what we base our decision making on in our work lives, it is how we evangelize our expertise on to others, etc. Doing the right amount of research sets you up for success.
Here are some examples of how little to no research and/or bad research can leave you in a very sticky situation.
Speaking at a conference:
At the SXSW “Social Media Metrics” panel, there were 5 so called industry experts attempting to speak to this. The problem was 30 minutes into the panel, all that was talked about was CXO level buy in without providing any concrete examples or case studies about how to do so. Social Media properties like Twitter, Digg, etc. were brought up, and the panel had nothing to talk about. Also, questions were brought up in regards to “customer sentiment” and one panelist mentioned that there was no way to do any measurement on this, when there are a multitude.
The Panel really had no industry expertise. One panelist barely signed up for any social media properties, and other panelists, didn’t even have a web presence for their own name. Finally, when they were asked questions, they had no answers.
This was a horrific example of why not doing any research, providing any research or even being prepared for your audience can leave you in a very awkward situation. It makes you look like a completely unprepared, unprofessional and also devalues your professional expertise.
Writing Articles and Blog Posts:
On Search Engine Land, Shari Thurow wrote You’d Be Wise To “NoFollow” This Dubious SEO Advice (which I have nofollow’ed). She talks about how SEO’s are using this as a tool to build one thing for users and another for engines, similar to that of cloaking/IP Delivery.
Where did Shari make the mistake? Well, she failed to do the proper research on whether rel=”nofollow” was a form of cloaking or if it was just used to sculpt page rank. Also, she talks about the usage of “nofollow” as fake information architecture too, which since that seemed to be her focus, would have been a better title for the post.
There was a lot of backlash within the SEO world via twitter posts, comments, blog posts, etc. Shari derived a conclusion without proper research and therefore was made to not only look bad, but if writing for a major brand cause a lot of harm to the brand as well.
Research within the Community:
This is a very important part of being engaged in a community and not having your research can really hurt you personal/professional and even corporate brand. Things like Q&A Sessions, informal meetups, blog comments, and interviews can reflect you negatively, if you are not prepared.
An example of this was on Sunday at SXSW, there was a barrage on my twitter feed of people criticizing Mark Zuckerberg about his interview. You can also see this in multiple blog comments, informal meetups, conferences, etc.
Being prepared and knowing your industry is very important when committing to any of the above items and will reflect on you, remember that! Be prepared and do your research, this will extremely benefit you and your brand.