Where Is All This Bad Information Coming From?

By David Veldt - 04/10/2013

Last fall, I had the pleasure of speaking at an industry conference full of passionate, like-minded people. I can honestly say it was a wonderful experience.

Before I gave my presentation, no one at the event knew who I was. Between sessions, I was approached by a very young, highly energetic man. When he asked what my particular interest in the conference was, I informed him that I would be speaking on SEO shortly. Upon hearing this news, he immediately became 10x more interested in me.

It was then that he gave what I presume was a highly-practiced---albeit rather awkward---elevator pitch for the startup he was working on. He was all over the place, overwhelming and I felt a little cornered, but I liked his passion and therefore I liked him. He shoved a business card my way and the next morning I looked up his project. It was a solid idea but being a digital marketer, I saw a lot of basic mistakes in the site and their strategy.

I didn't really think of him much beyond that point until recently, when I saw a meetup notification that he was going to be teaching a series of classes on digital marketing to local business owners.

This certainly isn't meant to discredit young marketers---as I've known plenty of very talented ones---but after seeing simple mistakes on his own site and not even being old enough to buy a beer, it didn't seem like a wise choice for passing on advice about a rather complex industry, already riddled with bad information.

When I saw this notification, it got me thinking about all the times I've been in meetings with major companies as someone in their marketing department says something about "Well, what we need is to add meta keyword tags" and everyone nods their heads and says "Of course!" as if they have any idea:

[bra_list style='arrow-list']

  • What he just said
  • That what he just said was completely stupid

[/bra_list]

I just sit and wonder who the hell is telling you this shit? before calmly correcting them.

I wish I could say the spreading of bad information and advice was just at a micro level, such as local workshops, but I've had to sit through major conferences with hundreds of people in attendance, as paid presenters spew utter crap tips and advice to unsuspecting attendees. While 2/3 of the audience nods and quickly scribbles notes, the other 1/3 groans, fiddle on their iPads or simply leave.

In the age of "content is king," everyone is in a rush to produce as much of it as possible, no matter how useless, ill-informed or awful it may be. We see it in our RSS feeds, our inboxes, on our favorite blogs and shared, tweeted or posted by our colleagues.

What To Do About It

The biggest mistake we can make is to idly stand by as bad advice and information is spread and accepted as fact by unsuspecting bloggers, webmasters, business owners and clients. So what do we do?

Do we sound off in the comments of their post? Do we interrupt their presentation to set them straight? How about secretly taping a sign that says "De-index me" to their back?

I suppose I wouldn't go that far, but what we should do is make an effort to discreetly correct them. Whether it is via a polite, non-combative email or trying to speak with them one-on-one after their presentation. You may not always convince them, but it will open up a conversation to get them thinking deeper on the subject.

I, for one, do solemnly swear to make an effort to politely correct bad information when it crosses my path. I will do so while keeping an open mind (in other words, knowing I might not be right, either) and friendly tone.

Will you do the same?

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