Friday, 8 september 2017 | Redacción CEU
Lies, fallacies, tall stories, unfounded rumors and messes. Sensationalism and immediacy are friends of divulgation and enemies of the truth. The false news is fast, viral and cheap. The tale story diffusion has been carried out since ancient times, but the digital media now offers unequalled potential. How is fake news affecting the digital marketing world? Do these information hurt or benefit brands? Are social networks suffering a deterioration of their image?
A social network that will be for pay, a scandal of a candidate running for presidency, the pills that make you ugly and fat,... All news leaked as authentic and all of them are false. These erroneous information are in vogue. They are not only divulged by webpages specialized in the tale story propagation, from ordinary citizens to mass media and politicians fall into the fakes news trap. Society demands speed, and social networks and digital media offer the appropriate boat for sailing a sea of lies.
The immediacy and hyperconnection explosive cocktail give these misinformation types exceptional viral potential. In some cases, the poisoned message recipients are the ones who do not even open their content and spread the rumor. A simple headline entails a final judgment. In others, the issuers themselves deliberately voice information for a personal benefit or a third party discredit. Do these practices have consequences in digital marketing? Definitely, yes.
Let them talk well or badly, the important thing is that they talk about me, although I confess that I like them talking badly because that means that things are going very well for me.
Some brands are accused of following to the letter this painter’s Salvador Dalí famous quote. Whether it is true or not, many technological firms that are characterized by a high opacity, benefit from the repercussion generated by these false leaks. On one hand, they measure the impact that would have making certain changes on their new devices or platforms. On the other, they create more mystery around a new product launch.
Some companies resort to the fake news publication to increase the click number –either in a conscious, or in a hasty and unverified way–. Some other times, the unfounded rumor propagators have recourse to post-truth –the emotional lie– for changing the public opinion through the use of news that put feelings and beliefs ahead of facts and certainties. This tactic is often linked to political malpractice, but can also be used to deteriorate, for example, the image of a character associated with a product, such as an influencer.
Extinguishing a fire is always more difficult than rekindling it. Denying false news is always a complicated task. The information content spreads like wildfire on the network and reaching to all those who have received a false message is almost an impossible task. The damage can be irreparable and the consequences very negative: abrupt sale decline, the image deterioration, the investors desertion,... How can marketers combat fake news in this digital time frame?
Marketing professionals who work with content, like journalists, have to be very careful about the confirmation bias: the propensity to validate and select as evident the information that favors our preconceived ideas, beliefs and hypotheses, as well as, the news that can beforehand benefit our firm a priori, regardless of whether they are truthful or not. A convenient lie can seriously damage our brand. Along with pre-roll ads and pop-ups, fake news is one of the most annoying advertising practices for network users. Before publishing something, it is necessary to perform a contrast and documentation work. Time plays against, but spreading wrong information can harm you.
When a consumer links a firm with a perfidious advertising tactic, it is difficult for him to trust in it again. Becoming a fake news publisher is not only bad for reputation. Google and Facebook want to punish the webpages that use these techniques to increase their clicks and followers figures. In particular, Zuckerberg's social network has just announced that they will initiate a protocol to cut any deposit earned through fake news on its platform. If someone continuously shares these kind of publications, he/she will not be allowed to use promotions.
False information can diminish the brand prestige. In order to minimize damages, marketing teams must have a clear and unitary strategy about how to act in such situations and be prepared to manage a possible crisis in their digital media. An impulsive or thoughtless response can aggravate the evil.
Marketers can make use of Real Time Marketing to combat the negative effects of fake news. This is a method that consists of developing a marketing strategy at the same time, along the way, to take advantage of a situation like an unexpected event, an informative bomb or, even in this case, a false news to overturn and create a viral message or content. Creativity is indispensable to respond quickly, impact users and reap success.
Social networks are the most appropriate means to make the most of Real Time Marketing. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram offer the possibility to connect immediately with users who are talking about that information, during that time. Nevertheless, originality rules and nothing is written. Teams must be prepared, be quick and open to suggest new alternatives to reach the masses in these situations. Turning the tables is certainly an art!