4 Ways to Avoid Negative Impacts of Fake News on Your Business’s Online Reputation

  • Date: 09 October 2019
  • reading time: 4 Minutes
  • Blogger: Kate Russell

Fake news remains one of the greatest challenges facing companies despite investments in machine learning by social media networks including Facebook and Twitter to quell the content.

For example, an inaccurate story about the United Kingdom’s Metro Bank facing financial difficulties resulted in an 11% loss in shares

Fake news is difficult to combat as the degree of novelty and the emotional effects of the content result in quick diffusion. False news reaches more people than the truth, according to a study published by Science.  

Social media platforms, especially Facebook, remain popular sources for news. Roughly four-in-ten (43%) of US adults get news from Facebook. 

If a business shares fake news, it is liable to experience plunging stock prices, customer boycotts, and negative digital capital. 

Authenticity and trust are critical qualities of a sustainable brand. 86% of people stated authenticity as a consideration in deciding which brands to like and support. 

A business’s reputation is on the line when it shares content. To support a positive digital presence in the era of fake news, content marketers can follow four steps:

  1. Don't Share Clickbait
  2. Share Content That Reflects Your Brand's Tone
  3. Check the Sources of the Content You See on Social Media
  4. Read Beyond Headlines

Content marketers can maintain a trustworthy and viable brand by applying care and focus to the content they share. 

1. Don't Share Clickbait

To get consumers to view and share content, publishers have produced teasing, digestible links since the beginning of social media. 

The type of content that grabs attention, garners clicks, but fails to deliver is known as clickbait. 

Or, as The Oxford English Dictionary defines clickbait: “content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.” 


Source: adspresso.com

The crux of clickbait is a sensationalist headline, which leads to a destination that disappoints the consumer. The story fails to deliver the value teased by the headline. This disappointment undermines a consumer’s trust in the publisher. 

Facebook took action against clickbait, adjusting its algorithm to penalize brands that post disappointing content. The platform adjusted its Newsfeed algorithm based on the time a user spent reading an article after clicking.  If a consumer clicked through to a link, only to return moments later to Facebook, the content is considered clickbait and ranked lower by the social media platform. 

This content generates empty clicks, rather than building relationships with consumers. Clickbait is counterproductive for content marketers to post as it fails to create lasting connections that create business growth.

2. Share Content That Reflects Your Brand's Tone

Brand identity is crucial to a business’s sustainability as it represents the vision, mission, and values of a business. Consumers develop associations with brands based on every interaction they have with the business. 

Fully connected customers are 52% more valuable in terms of purchases and use frequency than customers who are only highly satisfied. 

Social media provides a ripe opportunity for brands to bond with consumers. Harvard Business Review reported that a condiments brand found that 60% of its social media followers were emotionally connected as opposed to 21% of all customers.

The majority of consumers interact with brands they follow on social media. But, consumer trust stagnates at a historic low as a result of notable breaches of trust such as Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

Consumers prioritize spending according to brand trust and authenticity. This means that content marketers should share content associated with their brand’s image to maintain an emotional connection with consumers. 

3. Check the Sources of the Content You See on Social Media

The easiest way to assess the validity of content is to assess the source’s reputation. 

Marketers should consider the following factors prior to sharing content:

By assessing these attributions, content marketers mitigate the risk of spreading fake news and undermining a brand’s trustworthiness. 

In the eyes of the consumer, the most credible content comes from brand users. 

Content marketers should focus efforts on user-generated content related to their brand. 60% of consumers find user-generated content to be the most authentic. 

As 2.82 billion people use social media, there is a wealth of user-created content waiting to be leveraged.

While consumers consider user-generated content to be the most trustworthy, marketers should validate all sources before sharing. 

4. Read Beyond Headlines

To reduce the risk of negative associations, content marketers should read an article in its entirety prior to sharing it.

The majority of links (59%) shared on social media are not clicked on, suggesting that the majority of stories shared are not actually read. It is crucial that content marketers do not fall into this habit. 

Headlines are written to draw attention and encourage engagement. Clickbait is a prime example of headlines’ deceptive power. 

Without reading the article, content marketers risk sharing a catchy title that ultimately does not deliver on the promised information. This associates their brand with false information and undermines consumers’ trust in it. 

5. Approach Content Critically 

Consumers support brands they deem trustworthy. When marketers share content that is inaccurate or disappoints, they undermine relationships and their business’ claim to authenticity. 

Read past the headline of a story and verify the content’s source before sharing it. This not only reduces the risk of sharing inaccurate information but also ensures the shared content reflects brand tone. This creates an emotional connection with consumers, which fosters brand loyalty and business growth.

Need help? 

We think social media listening is incredibly important for brands to fully use their online potential. Are you looking for help making sure you don’t miss any important mentions? We would love to help you set up your social media listening.   

Feel free to contact us for a FREE strategy call so we can discuss the possibilities for your business. Are you interested in learning more about social media, then our Social Media Gids Community may be a great place for you. Here you can find many helpful resources and join the conversation with other students and experts. Our FREE e-books and our Social Marketing class, for instance, are great resources for everyone looking to learn more about the endless possibilities of social media. 

Want to post a comment? Join the conversation in our community.

  • Blogger: Kate Russell
  • Content and Editorial Associate at Clutch
  • Kate Russell is a Content and Editorial Associate at Clutch, a platform for B2B research, ratings, and reviews. She produces and processes content to help business buyers determine the top service providers for their company.
  • Other blog articles of Kate Russell