How to Survive in the Era of Fake News
Fake news. It’s an issue that has dominated the post-election media coverage in the U.S., and is beginning to undermine the credibility of what we read in our social feeds. While much of the attention has been on news written with an intentionally misleading intent, it’s important that brands start to think about how their content might be getting misinterpreted, filtered out, or just plain ignored on Facebook.
It’s not hard to imagine how the results of the 2016 U.S. election might lead to algorithm changes by Facebook that could impact how information is prioritized, shared, and understood. Even the slightest change in the Facebook algorithm can have massive implications for business. And as we have seen with changes to Facebook trending topics, algorithms make mistakes.
So how can a business ensure its content is safe from the scourge of fake news?
1. Tell a (True) Story
Humans are storytellers. We see it in books, movies, TV and even music. Having a narrative that draws people into your content, and guides them through to the end, not only makes it more compelling, it provides you with some creative licence. Storytelling doesn’t give you licence to make things up, but it does provide some cover for less glamorous aspects of your content, and can help provide context without having to explain everything in minute detail.
2. Don’t Exaggerate
While the fish may have been the length of your arm when you pulled it out of the water, often by the time you tell the tale the ninth time, it is the size of a small child. Selling your product or service without adding too many adjectives is critical. Let your knowledge, experience, and real case studies and customer stories speak for themselves. Social media is a two-way street, and those tall tales can come back to haunt you very quickly.
3. Embrace Your Failures
In any good story, the hero always fails before succeeding. Embracing the struggles you have had as a business, your customers have faced, or the ways in which you have learned from past mistakes are a true sign of authenticity in storytelling. A story where everything is perfect, and the narrative perfectly fits all your marketing slogans, can harm your credibility. Overcoming adversity, and owning your failures, is a great way to gain the trust of your customers.
4. Don’t rely on Zuck
Facebook is a fantastic platform. It has fantastic targeting tools, tremendous potential reach, and it can make publishing simple. Mark Zuckerburg seems like a nice guy, but his company’s interests won’t always align with yours, and that can cause big problems. Diversify your content channels by hosting your own blog, posting on Medium, guest-blogging on other sites, and pitching stories to the media.