How ‘Fake News’ and Bogus Content Are Changing the Way Consumers Look at Brands

‘Fake News’ is not a new concept. But with the revolution of social media, it’s been difficult to differentiate between “real” stories and ”fake” news.

The web has made the sharing of information and content easier, more accessible, and—what’s rather scary—it also enabled the sharing of dishonest reporting, fabricated content, and “fake” or made-up stories. As Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

While dishonest reporting and phony stories may not be something we’ve never dealt before, it is interesting to explore how such bogus content affects us as consumers and the way we perceive brands.

The first question to ask is as follows:

Does being aware of fake news affect the way we engage with digital content?

A research study conducted by Hill Holliday among 18-61-year-olds shows that 54% of consumers seem to be wary of what they read online. 41% verify what they read against a second source and 38% distrust sites that have provided fake content in the past. What’s quite absurd—20% distrust everything they go through just because fake news is somewhere out there.

Understandably, an overwhelming majority of 55% are primarily concerned about dishonest reporting and lack of journalistic integrity when it comes to current news, while the 9% who are concerned about fake reviews on Yelp or Amazon are the more digitally-savvy amongst us.

The second question to ask is:

How do consumers feel about brands as a result?

According to Hill Holliday’s research, most consumers are concerned with the quality of the product or service they are purchasing. As a result, if a chosen brand generated fake content about their services or products, 59% would stop buying that brand immediately, and 64% are said to be more likely to shop with that brand if they know they are truthful about their business.

Consumers see their relation with brands—like with most things—as a relationship—once they are lied to, they are unlikely to trust them again. Loyalty and trust are the foundations of building positive perceptions about global brands.