Posted July 18, 2012 12:30 am by with 0 comments

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Talk about having the tables turned on the tech industry!

If I had a nickel (well let’s make it a buck since that sounds better) for every time a tech company or agency or whomever dodged an inquiry by falling back on the ‘we use proprietary software to determine those results’ line, I wouldn’t be filthy rich, well, maybe I would be. Heck, I have even sold services by using that same talk. Of course, I believed every word of it but never truly considered how evasive it sounds to the other party. I can see clearly now ……

So imagine how the folks at Facebook must feel as their stock took about an 8% dip over the past two days based on the report of an analyst from Capstone Investments. A Reuters report tells us

Capstone analyst Rory Maher said he used proprietary software to track user numbers by country over the past six months across more than 200 countries and worked out that the social network had shed users in both the United States and Europe. U.S. users declined by 1.1 percent, he said in a research note.

So we are to believe that this one company has figured out the most accurate way to measure actual Facebook users and do it with the granularity of claiming a 1.1 percent drop in users? And investors simply take Capstone at its word thus, as a result, Facebook’s stock takes a dump.

If this isn’t an indicator of just how emotional vs. intellectual the whole tech space can be then nothing is. I am not saying that Capstone’s measurements are false but why should we believe their numbers over any other company’s especially when they can hide behind the notion that they got these numbers on their own with ‘proprietary software’. What if another analyst released a report on the very same day saying that their ‘proprietary’ software measured a 1.1% increase in Facebook users over the same time period. Quite plausible. Now what?

This kind of result raises the larger question of research in the digital age. Who do you believe? As a marketer, how much weight are you willing to put on a report that ‘supports’ a position that you are selling upstream in your organization? What if this ‘proof’ that you offer someone sounds great but is just dead wrong?

When you have to file for unemployment is there a box to check in the reason you are unemployed area that says “I believed the research”? Be careful out there folks. Caveat emptor and all that good stuff. What numbers you trust could impact whether you stay employed or not. If that’s the case should you be cautious if someone uses the ‘proprietary software’ line without any more detail?

Any thoughts?