Among the many discussions making the rounds since the end of the election is the question of fake news. One of the more difficult things for us as marketers is how to appear credible. When people see an advertisement, they are already highly skeptical of your claims, making credibility an important factor in standing out among your competitors. This need will become incredibly important in social media marketing if Facebook moves to change its algorithms to filter out fake or otherwise untrue news stories. The last thing you want is for your marketing content to be lost to the filter because it seemed to be false.
This article will focus on how to make your social media marketing campaign credible. This will build trust in the consumer that you are a worthwhile source, thus when you start selling to them they’re more likely to take you at your word. If you start being viewed as deceptive or loose with the truth, however, it could very easily result in a loss of business. The following techniques are reverse engineered from guides on websites like Snopes and CNN trying to teach you how to spot fake news stories.
A certain amount of derivative content is unavoidable, but strive to make your image and your website as unique as possible. If you use similar iconography or layouts to a more popular brand, do not be surprised if your customers start treating you like a knockoff version of the more well-known brand. Strive to make your logos and your website distinct from the big names in your field. If you are a new business, don’t go with a brand name that is just one letter off from a well-known brand. People will notice what you are doing and it will hurt your credibility in the long run.
If necessary, invest in a full sight redesign. Again, note that certain things are OK to copy such as layout if you distinguish yourself through a unique color scheme. Consulting with professional web designers will help you decide if your design is distinctive enough.
Control Your Content
Part of any successful internet marketing campaign, including social media marketing, is making sure you control where your content is going. It does not matter how well researched or how much time you spent on an article or infographic if the content ends up being associated with fake news sites or is posted across websites that look like spam. There is only so much you can do to control where your content is going, but where possible keep it away from bad neighborhoods. If people start to see your article as false, there is little you can do to repair the damage.
Check Your Facts and Sources
This is good advice for any attempts to convince people of the truth of your words, but make sure your facts and sources are valid. Fact-check EVERYTHING, especially if it sounds too good to be true. The more you’re willing to accept something as true out of hand, the more skeptical you should be. When quoting facts and figures, make sure that you can link to the study that promoted it. If you’re a larger company and are speaking from experience, cite your years of experience in the field. If it comes from your own investigations, feel free to explain your methods and how drew your conclusions.
When quoting information from another source, look for corroborating sources. Remember that if only one organization is reporting on something that should be bigger news, it is probably fake. This is especially important for your image on social media – if you’re constantly reposting or sharing articles from dubious sources, do not be surprised if your customers start to see you as dubious as well. When in doubt, the top-level domain can be a giveaway, something like .rus should raise a red flag – especially if a well-known name is attached. Not all foreign sources are bad, but should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Resist the Urge to Sensationalize
As marketers, we understand how important it is to stand out in the crowd. In a world of sensational headlines and clickbait, you have to have the most enticing headlines and content around if you want people to consume it. It is fine to punch things up with an attractive headline, but do NOT mislead with your headline. Not everybody who shares is going to click through, but those who do and who discover falsehood will be quick to point it out. To maintain credibility, be smart and resist the urge to sensationalize.
Once you have captured your reader’s attention, you have it, and you can give them the full, sober picture. Again, it is OK to punch up the text and images with something to capture the reader’s attention – you have to deliver value after all. The objective hear is to resist the urge to over-dramatize or promise something your content cannot deliver.
Stay Active and Up to Date
Last, but not least, is to stay active and up to date with your internet marketing campaigns. Years of silence followed by a sudden burst of activity will find you starting back at ground zero again. Furthermore, a social media account or the appearance that you have not been online in months or years may lead people to believe you have closed shop and start going to your competition. Furthermore, if you give your consumers long periods of silence between bursts of activity, it’ll erode confidence in what you say and reduce your overall following.
Trying to appear trustworthy in a sea of untrustworthy information – especially when you want that trust to help your business – can be a difficult and almost insurmountable task at times. However, with the right investment of time and resources you can develop a social media campaign that carries the absolute trust of the consumer. This will, in turn, make it more likely that people on the internet will start to pay attention to your communications, expanding your reach.