This past week, I retweeted the following statistic (for you non-Twitter users, that means that somebody posted something on Twitter that I re-posted for my network to read): “Of the 6% of women in the United States that earn over $100,000 per year, 80% of them are in direct sales.” It’s a statement I’ve seen before, and I actually thought that I had seen that it had appeared in USA Today or something like that. Because of that, I felt comfortable retweeting it to my network.
And then someone asked me to share with them the evidence that backed it up. They wanted to share the info, and wanted to show the facts behind it.
No problem. I figured it would only take a quick Google search to pull up the facts. Only it didn’t. While I saw the same statement shared on Twitter, blogs, and opportunity pitches, nowhere could I find any evidence that corroborated the statement. Hmmm.
Thinking that perhaps the original was just old, I emailed my friend Amy Robinson, VP of Communications and Media Relations over at the Direct Selling Association (DSA). She runs the awesome site Direct Selling 411, and I was sure she would have the facts I needed. Here’s what she wrote back to me:
Ugh! I wish this crazy quote would go away! Every few months it pops up and I get a rash of emails about it. I just got one yesterday from someone else. Not only is the actual information sourceless (and definitely not from us!), but I doubt that it’s even true (or for that matter that it could even be verified).
If you see that stat again, grab a sword and chop it in half.
And that brings me to the point of today’s post. Unverified information that we share so freely through our social networks. Sure it would be AWESOME if that stat was true. But it’s not. And I should have checked before I passed it along. The spread of misinformation helps no one in our industry.
These days we’re often encouraged to pass stuff along through our status updates. Rarely does a day go by where someone isn’t encouraging people to repost something, be it a change to a setting in Facebook, something to delete, a cause to promote, etc. But when we use our social networks for business, it falls on us to be even MORE careful, and verify things before we blindly pass them along. Some things we pass along could actually damage our computers. And sometimes the information is just wrong. If we want our business to be taken seriously, we have to be credible. And that means only passing along that which we verify.
So the next time you’re tempted to “spread the word” about something, check the facts first. (I certainly will!) It only takes a minute to do a Google search. And then you can avoid spreading misinformation that discredits you and your business. It will also cut down on the spread of misinformation in general. And that helps everybody!
Photo Credit: Alex Kerhead