About 30% of the public is currently trying to reduce their gluten intake. Why?

6% of the population is believed to have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), which has an assortment of symptoms. So, certainly, the knowledge of that sensitivity is driving people to cut back. And the knowledge of it was largely driven by a well-performed 2011 study.

Part of the effort to cut back might also be driven by books like Grain Brain, which postures that certain diets (gluten-heavy included) can produce neurological issues.

Some folks might just see it as an opportunity to re-think a bread-heavy, American diet.

That’s a lot of people making big changes, and those changes are backed by science! Well done.

Oh wait, hold on—what’s that? NCGS might not actually exist at all? Shenanigans! Who did that recent study? Oh, the same guy who did the first study? Hmm.

So, where does that leave us?

Truth Belongs to the Most Recent Trustworthy Research

It leaves us where we always are, we just rarely get the chance to see the same person debunk themselves. Most of our scientific understanding of how anything works is only as stable and complex as the most recent research we have.

It’s always been this way, and will likely always be. New information coalesces with what we still know to be demonstrably true, and we allow our worldview to adapt.

Industry “best practices” are not immune. Ever tried to figure out how often you should blog? When you should post to your social media accounts? How to get a better email open rate? How to increase conversions?

If you read more than one article, you probably figured out that there’s rarely consensus. Even when industry leaders talk about how often to blog or when to post on social accounts, the answer is still “it depends”.

No matter how much data is collected en masse, no matter how much is parsed by smart people—”best” will always be a moving target.

“Best Practices” Should Yield to Approaches

Your knowledge of “best practices” should help you adapt your existing strategy—not help you create one. It’s easy to put the cart before the horse by letting “best practices” dictate how often and in what way you speak to your audience. Instead, you should be focused on the outcome you want and the way you want to be perceived.

For instance, if you asked Neil Patel for “best practices,” he’d lead you to very conversion-driven copy, popups, and other tactics designed to drive revenue. He’s clear on that, and I believe him. He’s an expert. But, such an approach can definitely become annoying and distracting. Is that worth the trade-off? Only you could know if that would work with your approach for your purposes.

This is why I give talks like No one cares about your content (yet): the data designed to help formulate best practices should inform a broader strategy to connect with the right people in the right way.

So, take a break from looking for this week’s new “best practice” and make sure you have a more solid approach that can scale. The former should always inform, but yield to, the latter.

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May 30, 2014 — Leave a comment — In Blog, Content