Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

How to not get duped by actual fake news!

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You’ve heard me talk about how the Russians influenced the US election through Facebooks ads and the importance of actual authenticity and realism in our corporate storytelling.

But yet people continue to try to trick us. Marketing guru Larry Kim even did a test on how easy it is to spread fake news by spending just $50. Read his experiment here.

What is fake news?

Fake news is when somebody deliberately produces and disseminates stories that look like real news but are made up.

Fake news can be similar to propaganda. The term fake news hit the mainstream when Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States in 2017.

He often called news he didn’t like or not favorable of him fake news.

Negative news is not necessarily fake news if it’s true however.

Journalists from time to time making mistakes is also not fake news. Journalists are human afterall.

Fake news is usually purposefully wrong and tries to incite an action.

Of course, content marketers try to get people to engage and buy because of their content, but that alone also doesn’t make content marketing copy fake news.

Fake news, is:

  • Deliberately wrong
  • Has bad intent
  • Tries to influence
  • Influences somebody to reach a conclusion they wouldn’t have reached without the fake news.

Lets talk about two things today.

  1. How consumers can spot fake news
  2. How organizations can stay real

How consumers can spot fake news

Don’t trust sites by default if you’ve never heard of them. Let me give you an example: One of my state’s senators (Chuck Grassley) said this in late 2017:

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley told the Register in a story published Saturday. “As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.” SOURCE

People started sharing this quote on social media wide and far. Many linked to websites I’ve never heard of. I didn’t know if they were legit or if somebody made up the quote or what not. Of course, as you might imagine I don’t think that’s a very nice thing to say. Why is it the senator’s business how I spend my money-whether I spend it on booze or women or movies. I did tweet at him and asked if by women he meant my daughters-whom I spent a lot of my money on.

Anyway, when I first saw the links on Facebook I didn’t know if somebody was just making it up or what was happening. None of the sources were known to me and with that I didn’t know if they were legit or not.

So, I kind of paid attention but didn’t know for sure whether or not the story was legit or not until I saw it in more mainstream media like the Washington Post.

Of course, as soon as the Washington Post wrote about it Chuck Grassley also issued a statement saying the sentence was taken out of context. He meant it differently.

The Washington Post coverage now gave it credibility. I guess originally the Des Moines Register covered it first but I didn’t see it from them. I only saw it from those other sites.

Anyway, that is really the best way to see if something is legit or not: see who the sources are. And if you don’t know the source maybe it’s not real. Keep in mind that new legitimate sites emerge so the story could be true but it’s still something to weigh especially if you don’t know the source.

Also, ask yourself: could this even be possible?

The thing about the Internet-which can be beautiful when used for good – is that anyone can set up a website and start publishing. As long as they know how to get it in front of people it’s relatively easy to spread misinformation and also real information but sometimes it can be hard to tell for consumers what is what.

As an aside, this also doesn’t mean that I always agree with the Washington Post or other established outlets but at the very least I know who they are and what they stand for.

How organizations can stay real

As more and more organizations hop into the content marketing game that also means that they have to establish themselves as credible authorities on the topic and in other words not fake news. So how do you do that?

  • Draw on your brand equity.
  • Get your content shared by the people you have brand equity with.
  • If you don’t have existing brand equity just get started and be real.
  • Even if you have existing brand equity still be real.
  • Participate and share useful content on all relevant channels and established publications might pick your content up.

Read much more about this in my authentic storytelling book.

It’s certainly okay to pitch to established publications but I’ve found that when they mention me after finding me the return is usually bigger. For example, the PR Daily listed me as one of the top public relations people to follow on Twitter in 2017: I didn’t ask them to include me but them including me actually drove growth in my Twitter audience. Instant credibility transferred.

So, basic content marketing principles apply: Have a good strategy, keep moving forward. It’s a marathon and not a sprint. And maybe most importantly, don’t fabricate and publish fake news.

Edited by Lindsay Schwab. Connect with her here.

Disclaimers: The information provided in articles is for informational purposes only and not personalized advice. It's accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time it's published. Enjoy and best of luck telling the best stories in your organization and life!

Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I’m Christoph Trappe.

I’ve written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs.

If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I’m always happy to chat!

Thanks for reading!

– Christoph

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