6 ways to stop fake news from crippling your business

It’s written and published with the intent to mislead.

And if it’s about your business, it can turn potential buyers into skeptics instantly which, of course, will have a negative financial impact on your business.

For example, an investigation by Buzzfeed reported fake news sites targeting small businesses. When content goes viral on social media, it hurts the business because people believe the made-up content.

One restaurant Buzzfeed mentioned had to cut staff hours as their customers declined due to false claims about the owner being arrested for selling human meat.

Another sign fake news is impacting bottom lines is that people are paying more attention to where companies are advertising. Studies show that consumers lower their opinion of a brand if it advertises on a site they don’t trust.

As small business owners, we must not only be aware of this, but proactively combat it to safeguard our businesses.

Here are 6 ways you can fight back against the impact of fake media:

1) Back up your claims with proof. Clayton Makepeace, one of the highest paid copywriters and marketers in the world, says proof is critical, especially the higher the price a product or service is.

He says to ask yourself, “What does my prospect absolutely have to believe in order to make this product mandatory for him?” and then go about proving it in your sales copy.

You can do this a number of ways on your sales landing page including using testimonials and incorporating facts and statistics from credible sources into your copy.

2) Set up Google Alerts. In this age where people increasingly post false claims about products and services, it’s important for you to listen to what people are saying about you online and respond accordingly. Google Alerts is a free online tool that allows you to keep tabs on who’s mentioning you, your product or service, or website. You can set up any number of “alerts” to help you manage your online activity by simply inputting keywords specific to your business and brand. Google will immediately send you an email notifying you when those terms appear online.

3) Be a stickler about keeping your word. If you say a product or a special price won’t be available at a later date, don’t make it available later. If you say there will be no replay for your webinar, don’t give a replay.

When you don’t keep your word, you teach prospects and customers that your word is not to be trusted.

4) Run your ads on credible, trusted news sites. There is a “halo effect” that brands experience when advertising on trusted news and media sites.

Network Research did a study relating to advertorials. Respondents indicated they were 20% more likely to trust a brand sponsoring an advertorial, even if they were unfamiliar with the brand—if the ad is in a media outlet they know and trust. (63% were neutral)

But, if respondents had a favorable opinion of a brand and an ad appeared in a medium they do not like or trust, 19% are more likely to lower their trust in that brand.

Results from ad campaigns across the World Media Group (WMG) support this. WMG, made up of media including The Washington Post, Bloomberg Media, Forbes, Fortune, Newsweek, The New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal, outperformed benchmarks and received substantially higher results—the greatest effect seen for desktop video (21% higher than average) and on mobile advertising, ads achieved viewability rates 40% higher and encouraged 43% more interactions.

5) Get your company on page one of search results. According to Forester Research, 81% of people find what they are looking for through a search engine. And Target Marketing says research studies show that people equate the results at the top of search results as being “the most authoritative, the best vendor or the correct answer to their query.”

Using SEO strategies and PPC, you can get on the first page of search engines for targeted items.

SEO gets clicked more often, but it’s more difficult and takes longer to achieve first page results. With SEO it can take anywhere from two to six months on average.

PPC results are more likely to convert click-thrus from the search engine and work much faster. With PPC you can get on page one for a multitude of targets within a day.

For long-term efforts, get an SEO strategy in place. For product, service or business launches, limited time offers, special events and to build your brand awareness, a PPC strategy will serve you best.

6) Pay more attention to brand safety than price. An article in Marketing Week says, “Marketers must also stop the focus on price. Ensuring ads are viewable, not susceptible to ad fraud and appearing on the right sites will cost more than allowing ads to appear anywhere.”

I want to assure you that we are working hard to help ensure your brand safety. As a premier Google Partner, I can tell you Google is diligently monitoring content and removing anything that breaks their rules.

While there may always be a risk, you can use these steps to mitigate it.