Google “fake news” and you’ll get over 140,000,000 results.
There’s even an ad for fake news, and the majority of the results on page one are sites that gather and list fake news to make you aware of all the false information that has taken over the internet and social media.
The problem is, fake news is tough to spot. And that’s not our fault. Fake stories have been designed to be as authentic as possible so that we are not able to differentiate them from real stories.
Particularly in politics, fake news is not only prominent but also influential, even on a subconscious level. No wonder then that Facebook has launched a feature to detect false stories and fake accounts before the UK general election last month.
The result of all this is mistrust.
Today, consumers are empowered with their own devices and tools to search and find information in their own time and at their own pace, whenever they need it or want it.
The way we buy has fundamentally changed. We don’t trust to be sold to or advertised at; we want to make our own decisions through searching, reading blogs, speaking to peers on social, etc.
We buy based on the content that we find and consume, and also based on the experience that the content and the brand provide.
This is why fake news is such a problem for brands. It’s false content, and as such it diminishes consumer trust even more.
So how can you earn people’s trust in the fake news era?
With these three key things: consistency, integrity, and reliability.
Let’s take a look at each of those.
If you want to be taken seriously, you have to be consistent. This means that you have to deliver the same message via each and every outlet that you use and to every person that you encounter, online and offline.
Consistency goes back to your value proposition as a brand. Who are you and why are you in business? What makes you wake up in the morning and do what you do? What are the unique capabilities that you possess and who should benefit from them?
When it comes to value proposition, I always advise clients to answer these fours questions in a single sentence:
The result would often be something like: “We do … for … by … because …”. What this gives you is one memorable explanation of what you are all about that not just your customers can remember but your employees too so that they can act on them.
If you start coming up with different stories for your brand or for the same situation that you encounter (say, some sort of a crisis), people will see right through you. They’ll be put off by the fact that you can’t stick to your own beliefs (or don’t have any).
The same message, the same story is what needs to be represented in the copy you write, the images and videos you produce, and the social media postings that you share.
To be able to implement on the “why”, you need to have strong principles and beliefs to guide your actions.
These principles and beliefs need to span through your entire company and every team employee needs not only just to understand them but also to be fully bought into them.
If that’s not the case, then actions will be fake. Plus, the way situations are handled and communicated will be fake too.
The best companies are the ones which foster integrity in people, actions, and communication by embedding core values and seamlessly demonstrating them in every customer touchpoint.
Reliability goes back to consistency when it comes to delivering the same message across each PESO channel. Consistency, though, is more about the “why”; reliability is about the “what” and the “how”.
The experience you provide through your products or services is what deems you reliable or not. Your content needs to reflect what you do as a brand and how you do it.
If there’s a mismatch between what you are promising and what you are actually delivering, no one will want to trust your messaging or rely on you.
And in the world of social media, failing to deliver the promised experience is not going to stay hidden. People will share their dissatisfactions via their social networks and that will undeniably hurt you.
Ultimately, standing out and being seen in the world of fake news and media can only happen through trust.
If consumers and social audiences are able to rely on what you do and how you do it, believe in your intentions and understand the “why” behind your brand, then they’ll have trust in you and your content.