Getting your content to show up organically in the social media feeds of your fans is becoming increasingly difficult not only because of the pay-to-play model (more on that later), but because news feeds everywhere are becoming inundated with fake news and click-bait, squeezing your content right off the screen.
Whether it’s a post about a movie star visiting an obscure rural village or the motives behind the latest mass shootings, the clutter of fake news is changing the way end users are viewing their newsfeeds - a behavioural shift that is proving detrimental to legitimate social media marketing efforts. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through some easy steps to understanding why and how fake news hurts us, and what you can do to lessen the damage.
How Fake News Hurts Us All - The One-Handed Scroll of Doom
The clutter of tabloidesque content and fake news is contributing to the popularization of what I like to call the “one-handed scroll of doom.” Knowing that so much of the content on our screens is phony, users are becoming less inclined to pause and read our posts, much less engage with our content by adding a like, comment, SHARE or click-thru.
“...algorithms simply don’t reward low engagement posts.”
Having to scroll past the clutter and a fear of tracking cookies & malware from sketchy sources is making social media users less generous with their clicks. Even if we optimize our channel settings + audience targeting to get in front of the right eyeballs, and even if we load our posts with multiple points of engagement, if the first few people to see the post are stingy with their clicks, we know the post reach is doomed: algorithms simply don’t reward low engagement posts.
If users are continually pelted with fake news and worthless click-bait, the one-handed scroll of doom will become the norm and we could see the end of organic reach altogether. Not good news for social media marketers and organizations relying on social media to stay top of mind [err top of feed] for their target audience.
How to Hurt Fake News Where It Counts
If fake news websites continue to make money on their ad space and web traffic, the only way to hurt them is to decrease the flow of traffic to their sites, starting with stopping the spread of the posts on social media. Here’s how to hurt them where it counts.
Don’t engage with posts that aren’t from trusted sources.
If you’re not sure that it’s really Disney giving away 15 family passes or it seems sort of sketchy that Costco would be giving away $100 gift cards, trust your instinct and DO NOT reward the post with your engagement. If you’re really curious, take 5 seconds to Google the actual website to verify the legitimacy of the offer. (Spoiler Alert: rarely legit).
When you see a post that is fake news or click-bait, here’s what to do:
- DON'T open the image
- DON'T leave a comment or angry face
- DON'T share it with a warning to others that it’s fake
- DON'T click through to the site. Not only does the click add to the algorithm score, they’ve now planted a cookie, and have generated more ad income. #TheyWin
- DO report the post
- DO unfollow the Page
- DO unlike or Ban the Page
- DO tell your friends, family & colleagues about these steps so that they can join in the fight against fake news and click-bait cluttering our news feeds
What We Can Do To Fight Back
When audiences are able to cut through the clutter and engage with the good stuff, we all win. Here are some initial steps to take to optimize your content to make sure you’re setting your posts up for as much organic reach as possible:
- Assure your audience that they're engaging with and clicking through to a trusted source:
- Make sure your Facebook Page is verified
- Set up your profiles and cover images to seamlessly integrate with your website and branding
- Keep your visibility high so that fake news doesn’t take over the platform completely:
- Develop and implement a social media marketing strategy that pushes consistent and high quality posts
- Be generous with your B-B engagement by liking, commenting & SHARING often
- Have a contingency plan in the event that Facebook becomes a bad landlord and ups the rent or kicks us out completely:
- Cross-promote your other platform channels and ask fans to follow there, too
- Grow your e-mail list
- Base your content on your website and use social media to drive traffic there
- Make sure our sites are crawlable so that the thumbnails populate with the image that you intended to accompany the content.
- Empower your staff with knowledge about how the algorithm works and give them the tools to spread the word. Reach out if you’d like to discuss a virtual or on-site training session with our social media team.
If you found this information helpful, please share the post with the handy dandy sharing buttons below. And let us know if you have other ways to hit ‘em where it hurts by telling us about it in the comments below or join the conversation over on the TRUEdotDESIGN Facebook Page. (See what we did there?!)