Why Marketers Need to Stop Being the Fake News They Hate

Falsehood flies and truth comes limping after it.

This famous quote by Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, may have been wonderfully hyperbolic a couple of centuries ago but it’s as relevant as ever in this day and age due to the presence and dominance of fake news. Incorrect statistics and fabricated stories are constantly doing the rounds on social media. But wait, if we all know there’s a lot of rubbish out there, where exactly does the ‘fake news’ problem lie – and how can we put a stop to it from a marketing perspective? Here’s Why Marketers Need to Stop Being the Fake News They Hate.

Fake News Travels Fast

Humans love to gossip. It’s in our very nature. You only have to look at reality chat shows like Jeremy Kyle (UK) and Jerry Springer (USA) to know that airing your dirty laundry in public makes for great TV. Throw the internet and social media into the mix and you’ve got the perfect breeding ground for illicit claims, made up quotes, fake reviews, incorrect statistics and fabricated blogs/articles about almost any topic you can think of!

According to an ambitious and first of its kind study that was first published in Science Mag earlier this year, Twitter and fake news go hand-in-hand. The study analysed every major contested news story in English – over 126,000 tweeted by 3 million users to be precise – across the span of Twitter’s existence and uncovered some pretty gruesome fake news stats:

  • Falsehoods were 70% more likely to get re-tweeted than accurate news.
  • A false story is much more likely to go viral than a real story.
  • A false story reaches 1,500 people six times quicker on average than a true story does.
  • Fake news about politics is the most prolific.

Believe it or not, Twitter was even subject to a fake news story itself. A recent fake Twitter ad campaign encouraged users to be more sceptical on social media using the slogan “Don’t Believe Every Tweet.” The project features a Twitter account, a YouTube video featuring comedian Greg Barris and a website showing quotes from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Twitter has nothing to do with the campaign.

So what’s the issue here…?

Fake news makes people nervous and untrusting, which is not what you want your consumers to be. Indeed, nearly 70% of people are worried about fake news being used as a ‘weapon’ with regards to many different topics especially politics. What’s more, as over 60% of people believe they can’t tell fake news from real facts, there’s a real sense of ‘what should I believe?’ going on!

Marketers and Fake News

As the Creative Director of Contentworks with extensive social and content media marketing experience – particularly in the finance/forex sector – I have seen first-hand how fake news can be damaging to the industry. Marketers who rely on fake reviews, fake testimonials, fake promises, made up statistics, over-exaggerated quotes from inexperienced CEOs are their own worst enemy! Why? Because people aren’t stupid. Yes, they may find it difficult to differentiate between what’s true and what’s not, but if there’s any sign that a business won’t fulfil its promises or can’t meet demands – the trust is gone. After all, the proof is in the pudding and therefore there’s no reason to rely on falsehoods.

The good news is; emerging blockchain technology looks set to make many industries far more transparent in all areas from marketing and sales to product distribution. Public records systematically published on a secure ledger will hopefully eradicate all the underlying scams and malicious practices which give the finance sector a bad name.

Gain Trust with Honest, Authentic Content

In short, marketers need to stop being the fake news they hate and should instead gain trust with honest, authentic content that’s real, thought-provoking and interesting. In a world where 71% of readers are turned off by salesy content and 84% millennials don’t trust ads, getting creative counts – so how about going back to the drawing board and engaging consumers in an organic and fun way?

Take a multipronged approach to authentic content by:

Going live: Introducing your team leaders, showcasing the office surroundings or simply offering a live tutorial will all help to give your business credibility.

Promoting user generated content: I don’t mean made up reviews or ridiculous testimonials but real, user-generated contented. Airbnb is head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to content made by those who believe in their business model.

Organising social polls and surveys: Why not ask your consumers what they want to see? Once you’ve received the feedback try to action relevant points.

Run competitions and live chat sessions: Both will increase engagement and show you care about your target audience.

Blog/vlog: Whether you want to explain a new blockchain innovation or talk about a new crypto CFD offering; blogging or vlogging is a great way to communicate initiatives easily and clearly.

Ready to ditch fake and be authentic? Let’s talk.