• Sabrina Colafabio

Misinformation – What you should do if your brand falls prey

by Sabrina Colafabio

Misinformation or “fake news” have become prevalent words in our vocabulary as they define news which is circulating and is indeed false and unverified or, a mantra which is repeated simply as a means for corporations or individuals to deny any wrongdoing. Whatever the situation, misinformation is indeed a real problem for many corporations, and it needs to be dealt with.

How does misinformation circulate?

This happens easily and more readily with the proliferation of social media channels and the ease and accessibility of paid digital advertising. It can also happen because digital marketers will use third-party companies to place ads on several websites, and the potential for unintended endorsements and guilt by association can occur.

With digital mediums being so accessible and the immediate visibility that content and ads can achieve, the possibilities are rife to share and propagate a fake narrative which then mushrooms into a problem, if not dealt with quickly[1].

What to do when you discover misinformation about your brand

Most experts will agree that immediate action is usually the best course. Given the regularity and speed with which misinformation can spread, a plan for such an event should be in place. Here are some tips on how to mitigate the creation and spread of misinformation:

  1. Create a team to monitor online chatter about your brand and through “social listening”, they can flag issues which will need immediate attention from the leadership team[2]

  2. Create content which can’t be refuted as it is based on facts and not opinion. Source your content and ensure it can withstand the rigor of a formal review [2]

  3. If a misinformation story about your brand is circulating, put out a statement addressing the false narrative and share/disseminate and make public on all possible channels to ensure visibility. A creative way of tackling this can also include viraljacking. This is when you make light of the misinformation story by taking advantage of its virality to set the record straight in a tongue-in-cheek manner[3]

  4. Last but not least, Google and social media sites can help. Report any website which is posting the misinformation so that the specific teams within these organisations dealing with such issues can investigate and if necessary, de-index or limit sharing/posting capacity either temporarily or indefinitely [3]

Finally, as consumers of online and social media news, we can all ensure to read and share only content from credible publications/sources and journalists who fact-check and source their information, so we too avoid propagating a lie.

Misinformation has always existed, however the rate at which a lie can spread has become more important than ever before. Having a plan in place to manage it, is not just advisable but unavoidable if companies are to survive the wrath of the “fake news” fallout.

[1] Tie, Tony. 2017, June 29. 4 tips to protect your brand from fake news. Chief Marketer. [2] Forbes Communication Concil. 2020, August 25. 16 Business Strategies For Dealing With ‘Fake News’. Forbes. [3] Thomas, David. 2019, July 31. Viraljacking: How to make your content viral (+ success stories). Cyberclick.

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