The unwelcoming introduction to fake news_


The term ‘fake news’ has dominated public and private discussions over the past few years. Certain websites deliberately published misleading and incendiary information which ran rife across the Internet as they were shared via social media. In fact, ‘fake news’ has become such a widespread problem that the term ‘fake news’ was elected Collins’ “Word of the Year” for 2017. ‘Fake news’ will even be added to the next print edition of Collins Dictionary due to the fact that its usage has risen by 365% since 2016[1].

One of the social networking sites most closely associated with fake news is Facebook who were blamed for helping to spread hatred and division throughout the 2016 US Presidential Election. Fake news has become such a prevalent problem on Facebook that only one in four Britons trust the news they read on social media[2].

Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has sought to rectify these consumer concerns. He and his company have pledged to prevent fake news in 2018 by deleting accounts which create and circulate these stories. As Zuckerberg stated;

“This will be a serious year of self-improvement and I’m looking forward to learning from working to fix our issues together… The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent. My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory”[3].

However, many experts claim that the damage has already been done; with individual users, industry experts and mainstream media outlets alike chastising Facebook for neglecting to take action sooner. So we have to ask ourselves, have people lost faith in Facebook? If so, could using such a platform be detrimental for your brand?

How Facebook’s fake new problem could impact businesses

For many years Facebook ads have played a significant role in the digital marketing campaigns of start-ups and large corporations alike. However, many businesses have become concerned that Facebook’s public perception as a fake news hub could reflect poorly upon their brand. According to a Gallup poll;

“44% of respondents believe it’s everyone’s responsibility — reporters, editors, search engines, social media platforms, individual media outlets and readers — to identify and stop the spread of fake news. 72% of respondents believe social networks like Facebook and Twitter should block fake news on their website and 51% believe social networks are “most responsible for the proliferation of fake news”[4].

In this manner, it can be risky for brands to advertise on a website that is perceived by many to circulate fake news. Moreover, in recent years Facebook’s diminishing reputation has directly impacted the effectiveness of Facebook ad marketing campaigns. Not only have Facebook ad costs increased by 123% in the past year alone, but there has also been a 25% average decrease in impressions[5].

When it comes to digital marketing, diversification is key so it is strongly advised that you investigate alternative marketing strategies rather than relying solely upon Facebook as you brand’s main social networking channel. Listed below are some of the most profitable alternatives to using Facebook you may wish to consider;

Reddit : The social networking community Reddit attracts an estimated 17 million users a month and has evolved into the most popular online forum since the advent of the Internet[6]. Brands can purchase ads for a substantially lower cost than Facebook ads, as well as actively engaging with potential consumers via Reddit’s popular ‘subreddit’ discussion forums.

Snapchat: First launched in 2011, the video sharing platform Snapchat has become incredibly popular in recent years; with 54% of users accessing the app every day and 87% logging in at least twice per week[7]. Due to the nature of Snapchat and its short, disposable videos, businesses can create dynamic content for a vastly active and engaged audience. As one Social Media Examiner article highlights;

“The limited lifespan makes Snapchat the perfect tool to deliver a call to action that creates excitement and a sense of urgency[8].

Offering users exclusive glimpses into upcoming products, services and promotional events via Snapchat can garner excitement around your brand. You could also offer exclusive discount codes via Snapchat if users purchase from your site within a limited time window. In this manner, Snapchat can be utilised to encourage users to immediately purchase from your site, share your content with their friends and revisit your brand’s profile on a daily basis in search of new deals.

Pinterest : Visual content is an increasingly popular trend which has led to image centric social media sites such as Pinterest experiencing a resurgence in 2018. As a matter of fact, 42% of all women online have used Pinterest[9]. This vast image sharing platform provides a refreshing and lucrative way for businesses to interact with their target audiences. In addition to creating and sharing your own captivating pins, Pinterest provides businesses with the option to invest in Promoted Pins which will place your brand content in front of a larger network of potential consumers.

Ultimately, Facebook remain committed to rectifying their fake news problem and they still attract over one billion active users with which businesses can interact[10]. However, it can never hurt to expand your company’s field of influence by opening up your social media strategies to a wider network of profitable platforms. If you would like to learn more about the ways in which to bolster your company’s social media marketing campaigns then please feel free to contact our Cloud Ten team today.