In my blog post Online Content: Dogs Are Not Horses, I began by mentioning the danger of assumptions. I’m here to tell you they are more dangerous than they think.
Assumptions are not just the poison pill of outdated marketers and executives, they affect everyone, even, yes even, the social media expert! Yes, I catch myself making assumptions regarding social media content or strategy that seems intuitive to me, but I later learn is counter-productive.
Snap! Is there any hope for anyone?
The answer is in the long fancy term: mitigation. We make so many decisions and judgement calls there is no way to eliminate them. Who in any industry can achieve that? But we can educate and challenge ourselves so that we have the fewest assumptions of anyone in the room. That’s a good start.
Read. Read and read and read. Read this super-fantastic yet redundant blog. Read books with a better than 4-star Amazon rating.
Analyze. Let your reporting tools confront you. If you went down the wrong track, it’s more professional to admit (to only yourself if you’re lucky) you were wrong. Label your assumption as an “experiment” and call it conclusive: that you eliminated a possibility and are pursuing another, because you are.
It’s not always easy. There have been times I’ve looked at the statistics and started to experience the 5 stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, remorse, and acceptance. Your ability to confront your own assumptions will determine whether you are a professional in the truest sense, or a mistitled lackey. The key isn’t to always be right the first time, but to have the right response to feedback. That can require courage, but will have positive career implications for you in the long run.