Why you shouldn’t trust social media case studies

Other people’s case studies are a staple of the social media guru. Regurgitating someone else’s work in lieu of your own is a key way non-experts endear themselves to the unknowing.

That’s some pretty harsh stuff I’ve written, but here’s why I think you shouldn’t listen to social media case studies without engaging your critical brain.

Beware of those who present others’ case studies

A person who didn’t work on the project has a very skewed version of events. It’s like Chinese whispers. So where did they get the case study intel?

Lets be frank: When a company presents a case study, they’re showing off. They’re probably not going to go over the stuff that didn’t work as well, and they’re not going to go over strategically important points – why share these with competitors?

Someone presenting another company’s study is a step removed again. I think we should be critical of case studies and treat them as interesting but not gospel – however in most of the lectures I’ve been to, speakers have presented the studies as fact.

The other way SMEGs get their hands on studies is to make up their own. I once read a blog about a high-profile social campaign I worked on written by someone who had nothing to do with it. They had a list of suggestions to make it better, but had no idea of the resource, targets, or research we had done to make the choices we had. The conclusions the writer had drawn were wrong, based on incorrect assumptions.

I’m not suggesting we throw the baby out with the bath water – just that we put less stock in third-party studies and more into robust conversations with the people involved in the first place.

It’s trendy to go to social media-related events – even at the cost of thousands of dollars – to listen to speakers who have little to no actual experience themselves, and certainly not on the brands whose “learnings” they are presenting.

As an aside, there’s quite a few digital outlets calling themselves the top/best/leading social or digital agency in the country, and that gets regurgitated into conference pamphlets and bios across the web. Unqualified claims like that are a time a dozen.

Hell, I’ve even got it in my bio.