We live in an always on, always connected reality. If we are looking for information, we can typically find data on a topic in minutes, if not sooner. How did we get to an “instant news” society? Let’s review.
I’ve always been a sports fan. When I was growing up, I would be sure to grab the daily paper to read box scores from the games played the night before. The Monday morning paper would have the scores for the 1pm and 4pm National Football League games, but not the night game, so I would have information on some of the games a half day later, but I’d have to wait longer for others. The Monday Night Football game box scores weren’t printed until Wednesday’s paper, so I would have to wait a day and a half to see who scored if I didn’t stay up to watch the game.
Since that time, there has been a huge digital expansion of information. The news used to be broadcast at noon and then in the evening. Then came the wave of 24-hour news channels, so television could be a resource as soon as a news crew could get on site, or an eye witness could contact the station. The invention and widespread distribution of the internet made things even more immediate. Getting digital content took far less time than sending physical crews to a location. Computers filled every household, so it only took a few clicks on the keyboard to search on the latest news. Then, the same digital access moved to laptops, and then phones, and then social media provided immediate means to record and transmit information.
The issue at hand is that information, especially in a social platform, is almost never objective. The information is there, certainly, but very often it is paired with an opinion. When a news outlet, or a Facebook friend, or a Twitter follower posts, they can be very subjective in which information to share, including which parts of a story they choose to include, and which they choose to obfuscate or omit. The credibility of the information and the source is key. Why? Because your potential customers and partners are going to research you, your business, your brand, your company, your industry, any connections with other business entities and more.
When I went back to complete my degree, I had to write a number of research papers. Any book, magazine, article, or website that was used required a properly formatted works cited entry. The university actually forbid the use of any Wikipedia pages as a source. Wikipedia is an open source form of encyclopedia where the community can add, edit, post and revise content. Because there is no formal fact checking, there is no guarantee that the information is accurate, or at least not accurate enough to be cited in a research paper.
The issue with the widespread wave of information in the digital age is complicated. The lack of transparency has a lot to do with it. Users can be, depending on the platform, largely anonymous. There is little accountability to reposting information or articles simply because the person agrees with the idea. In fact, many experts in their industries believe that when a person reposts an article without reading it, they are becoming part of the problem. The subjective nature of information sharing is another layer of complexity. Many people who post have an agenda. It may not be one of malicious intent, but one to simply progress their opinion on a matter. It’s very similar to the way that people can choose to slice up numbers in certain ways to reflect their business or product in a positive light.
Before you share a product, opportunity, or other information with your potential customer, do your research. A well-prepared sales professional is truly professional. You don’t want your potential customer blindsiding you with a question to which you have no answer, and you want to know what questions they are likely to ask in advance. If your company has an official “About Us” or “Frequently Asked Questions” page, read it. Do an internet search. See if the top pages are reputable and if the information contained on them can be verified. Create a custom newsfeed that includes your company and check it daily. Make this a habit. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to help your clients and build your business.
To your success,