Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably heard of ‘fake news’.
Fake news is deliberate misinformation published with the intent to mislead for financial or political gain (according to Wikipedia). The problem of fake news on social media has gone from a minor nuisance to something that has affected the global stage. While the concept has existed as early as the introduction of the printing press in 1439, it’s safe to say that that 2016 is the year it really took hold. Big brands are now trying to fight it. For example, Google has introduced Fact Check tagging to ‘help readers find fact checking in large news stories’.
What does Fake News mean for advertisers?
A deep sense of suspicion over media content is now more prominent. A survey of 1,000 people in the UK from Network Research showed that 47% of consumers were suspicious a story they have read may be fake, with 75% of people trusting the media outlet less as a result. The survey shows trust in information from the media dropped for 32% of people, with a stronger decline in 18 to 34-year-olds.
‘The damage of fake news is that you get valued less in the environment as a brand’, says Dominic Carter, chief commercial officer at News UK, in a post from Marketing Week. Your efforts as a marketer are being undermined by a lack of trust in online news stories and information.
Separate research from Outbrain indicates consumers who view online content daily are becoming ‘more picky’ about where they get their information and news fixes. Traditional publisher and established brand content may be viewed with a wary eye, so your content’s agenda should be obvious. If it’s a promotional post, make that explicit right from the start, and use third-party sources to back up any claims you make, including links, so the consumer can read further into the subject. Also, try out some different forms of media that may be considered more authentic, such a video which is harder to manipulate, or even better, live video.
Social Media acts as the ‘echo chamber’ for fake news content, allowing it to go viral very quickly. And, as Kissmetrics points out, nothing dies on social media. Even if you manage to cope with any negative publicity your industry, or even your company, faces as a result of fake news, these articles remain online. Devumi, gives us some excellent tips on dealing with fake news:
- Make a quick, but well-thought through response
- Create a positive atmosphere
- Mobilise employees as brand messengers
- Make use of all available channels
- Regularly search for articles about your company so you are aware right away of any negative publicity
- See how your audience responds to fake news
- Use platforms that proactively protect your brand
- Report fake news websites
We have to put a lot of trust into online media platforms (Facebook, Google, larger online publishers e.g.) and hope they continue to battle this phenomenon. Our industry can help by encouraging content consumers to learn how to spot fake news stories, and not to believe everything they read.
As an agency, we continue to work with our clients to help them produce high-quality content that their audiences can enjoy and trust.