One of the things the 2016 US Presidential elections will be remembered for, possibly forever, is the sudden spurt in fake news. Incredibly, the phenomenon gave rise to entities like DiscloseTV and American News. And these entities were vying with each other to be more outlandish and more preposterous.
So what form does this fake news take? In terms of content type, they are links predominantly, preceded by click bait headlines. What’s even more interesting is that such pieces are promoted for big bucks to reach as wide an audience as possible. No real news entities would put the amount of dollars that these fake new entities do. For this reason, fake news also gets spread fast, for their ‘incredible, juicy, newsy’ content, though they get much less engagement. It is in this viral distribution that social media plays a huge role.
A Pew Research Center study done in 2016, and found that 62% of adults get their news on social media. The study further detailed that 66% of Facebook users and 59% of Twitter users obtain their news on the respective platforms. And fake news is addictive simply because it is made to entertain and be debated. When such is the case, how can brands effectively employ social media and still influence decisions?
Build Stories to Entertain
In one word – entertainment! Create entertainment that the audience seeks out actively. In other words, stop making advertisements and engage with a mix of entertainment and influencers. In a world where video is king, address stories in this format. Video content is increasingly consumed by all audiences, especially Gen Z for whom reading is a chore.
What if you could feed ‘branded entertainment’ in long form and short clips for social media depending on the genre? For instance, if your brand needs a film treatment – like the ‘Stories from the Airbnb Community’ for example – you could opt for the long form. If your brand needs a how-to video, go for short clips.
Go Global in Approach
People today are more informed than ever before and have a global perspective. They know when its summer in Australia, what tacos are made of, they even know the ‘secret ingredient of the secret ingredient sauce’! So it’s important to go global in your approach while reaching out to your audience in social. Make unusual yet plausible connections in storytelling.
For instance, your fizz brand could rope in a fictitious character inspired by an Armenian comic book out to steal the ‘secret ingredient’ of your brand. And each of your social media handles could have different characters protecting your ‘secret ingredient’. They could even flit between your social channels encouraging cross traffic.
Talk to the Vertical Screen
It’s mobile all the way. Always on. Always on the go. And that your primary interface. If you are not talking to the vertical screen, you are putting your money to waste. So even as you take to building brand stories to entertain and going global in your approach, package it all for the mobile screen. And while doing so, take into account what’s called dark social – social chat apps like WhatsApp where you could seed in digital clips leading back to the social media apps.
Fake news is there to ‘entertain’. They grab eyeballs and debates for just that reason. So if your brand needs to wean eyeballs off fake news and data, beat them at their game by taking their formula while staying true to your brand.