How To Identify & Deal With Fake News

By:Lauren Van Niekerk

Identifying Fake News and Protecting Your Brand

Fake news should not come as a surprise to the average internet user. It was created out the desire to increase the amount of ‘clicks’ and web traffic and has become a serious problem for brands and online media publishers like Facebook.

Man reading news paper

These fraudulent content pieces use a click bait strategy to would increase the amount of traffic to their site to which they hope to convert into revenue received due to advertisements. The increase in popularity due to fake news stems from the fact that online and social media sites are becoming the main source of information to users.

The aim of fake news is to create controversy and to do so quickly. This damage can then tarnish brand reputations of a company quickly & severely.

Just like any other villain, there are ways to combat and protect your brand from this problem. Below are 5 tips that will aid you in securing your company against fake news and protect the reputation of your business.

1. Monitor online mentions

Every company needs to frequently monitor their online and social presence. Implementing this type of system will allow you to have a strong hold on your brand and be alerted immediately if your brand is being misrepresented or damaged.

This can be done by constantly checking the search results linked to your company. You can use google alert or any other monitoring software to inform you if a fake news story has been created about your brand.

2. Assess the story

If a fake news story about your business is circulated then you should be proactive and assess the story. There are 5 main questions one needs to ask when assessing,

  • What does the article say?
  • How many people are have seen it, are talking about it and are sharing it?
  • How damaging or defamatory is it to your business?
  • Who published it?
  • Can it be taken down from the source?

3. Create a plan of action

The company must have a plan in place that will immediately be put into action if they do become a victim of fake news. News travels fast so having no plan of action or being slow to address the issue could create even further damage to your brand.

A plan of action could create the effective framework in handling the situation swiftly and appropriately. While potential customers need to be informed, existing customers who you do businesses with regularly should be your top priority.

SMS marketing is the perfect tool for contacting them with a message of assurance with quick turn around times and high response rates.

4. Your response

The way in which you respond to the fake news story could further determine the type of impact the story will have.

Depending on the how damaging the fake news story is, one has two options.

  • If it is simply a surface level story one could probably endure it.
  • The company could use its platform to address the story and give the accurate information regarding the matter.

It is suggested that engaging directly with the news source in public is not the best form of action as that could increase the popularity of the story and do more harm than good.

5. A precautionary measure

One final tip is not involving you or your brand within the cycle of fake news. Do not post anything on your business or personal page that you haven’t insured is factual.

Sharing this type of news includes you in the cycle you are trying to avoid and protect yourself from. Sharing fake news can also negatively affect your credibility.

To summarise, be ready and able to deal with fake news should it make you its target.