Most people nowadays do research on the Internet. When you are seeking opinions there is no better source; EVERYONE has an opinion and everyone is either “blogging,” “tweeting,” or “Facebooking” it. Yes, I just coined the term Facebooking – feel free to use it.
But the problem with the Internet is that it is difficult to find facts. The lost art of journalism is truly becoming a lost art and let’s just say “Fact Checker” isn’t the number one sought-after position on Monster.com these days. Even Wikipedia uses “social opinion” to shape and shift “facts” — although they also require corroborative evidence or support from encyclopedias and/or newspapers for much of their new content. Isn’t that ironic? I wonder what Wikipedia is going to do for corroboration when encyclopedias and newspapers are out of business.
But until then, a consumer researching a product or service online finds herself in the wild, wild west. So all one can really do is follow a few simple tips:
Tip #1 for Conducting Research Online: Determine the source
Look at the source of the information and ask yourself if it seems biased or impartial. Outskirts Press, for instance, is a part of a fiercely competitive industry without much regulation or policies. As a result, the competitive environment is ruthless, savvy, sometimes unethical, and even downright nasty. The same can be said for many other industries, and the larger the companies get, the more unbelievable the information and tactics of the companies involved.
So if you, as a potential customer, are looking up a business on the Internet and run into a blog posting or a website claiming Business XYZ is “bad” or “a scam” or in some other way not on the up-and-up, then it is up to you to determine if the source of that information is truly impartial, or whether they have ulterior motives. You’d be surprised how many businesses post inaccurate, unsavory, or maliciously libelous statements about their competitors behind the anonymity of blogs or in the name of journalism. Just look at the PR “smear campaign” Facebook initiated upon Google for a recent example (more on that later) . In other words, due diligence is essential.
Tip #2 next time…