Chasing Facebook

Craig McGill makes a good case for social media strategists not putting all their digital eggs in the Facebook basket at the Contently Managed website. His In Social Media strategy, should you put all your digital eggs in the Facebook basket? (Dead link) wisely warns that Facebook could go the way of sites like Friends Reunited, MySpace and Bebo,

McGill says old-fashioned websites should stay the mainstay of any strategy — because that’s where people buy things and learn more information.

News stories with tech industry statistics mainly rubbish

Here’s a tip from an old newspaper hand: Don’t take stories about consumer technology surveys seriously.

They are rarely real news. Most are just second-rate marketing dressed up as information.

University of Auckland biostatistics professor Thomas Lumley rightly points out misgivings about a New Zealand Herald story: “Young Kiwis among most savvy web users” .

As he says, the story is based on a survey of 4400 respondents in 11 countries. Even if the sample is completely random – that’s unlikely – the margin of error for comparing any two countries is 7%.

So when the people behind the survey use their results to reach conclusions about the relative habits of web users in various countries they are drawing a long bow.

It was ever thus.

I’ve written about technology for 32 years. In that time I’ve seen hundreds of spurious surveys sent out by public relations companies in a blatant attempt to get their clients into the news pages.

The worst offenders are security software companies wanting to whip up paranoia to sell their latest snake oil.

To be fair, it isn’t just security software companies, or just technology companies. You’ll find all kinds of rubbish in the newspaper masquerading as research. I’ve probably been responsible for some in my time.

Just remember to take this stuff with a pinch of salt.