Social media can be a great thing. Many businesses are successfully using social media to advertise their services and get the word out about their products. However, this modern technology can backfire if your organization’s reputation is tainted by fake news.
Fake news is any misinformation that is circulated in the public domain to damage your reputation. It can happen if a person uploads a video or shares a story online about your organization that may not be the full story of what actually happened. People viewing this fake news may be inclined to draw conclusions that can damage your business. The following tips will show you how to battle against fake news articles to protect your reputation.
Respond Directly To The Accusations
The first thing you must do is respond directly to the news that is circulating, whether it’s a tweet, article or Facebook post. According to the reputation management companies advice for battling fake news online they say to “Leave a
polite comment to clear up any misinformation without being rude or accusatory at the source.” Going straight to the source is often the quickest way to straighten out the issue and have your side of the story heard.
Monitor and Respond to People’s Reactions
Once you’ve made your views known to the source, you will need to deal with people who continue to spread the misinformation. While it is impossible to set the record straight with every naysayer, you can use media monitoring tools and software to watch how the original story spreads and find sites where people are discussing the issue. You can then respond to their negative comments in the same manner as you did with the original source.
Communicate with Key Stakeholders
Your next step should be communicating with your key stakeholders. These are your customers, business associates, investors and executive leadership. You should also communicate with your employees, particularly if it involves an issue with another employee.
Many businesses have a crisis communication plan that sets out what is to be done in these situations, so ensure that your organization is deploying all necessary crisis communication actions and that your relevant teams (human resources, PR) are standing ready to help deal with the situation.
Make sure that your loyal customers and advocates know what is fact and what is fiction, as their opinion will matter more than that of potential customers and the public in general. You should also assure your stakeholders that your organization is handling the issue internally so that they do not lose trust in you or your business.
Use Content To Set the Record Straight
Probably the best method of getting people to stop believing fake news is to replace the alternative facts with actual facts. This can be done very effectively using the right content. You can use content to amplify the message that you want to get out about your organization and to correct any misinformation that can damage your reputation.
You need to ensure that you are using content strategically. Don’t simply use it to distract others from the fake news that is circulating, as this will make people think you are trying to cover the story up. Rather, you should use content to become a part of the conversation as you work to educate the public about the true situation.
Use Your Network To Help Combat Fake News
Remember that when you are trying to correct misinformation that is out in the general public, you’re aiming to spread a message about your organization. In doing so, tap into your network for support to help you combat the fake news. Leveraging your network of advocates, employees, etc. can help your message spread faster and more effectively. For example, when responding to critics online, you can ask people to like or share your posts and responses so that others can see it. This will help your responses rise to the top of the conversation thread. In addition, once you’ve created your content, your network can help you to disseminate it online.
Don’t be the person who is the last to find out that a fake news crisis has hit your organization. Not only is this embarrassing, but it gives you a late start in addressing the crisis. News spreads at the speed of light when it is posted online, especially when it is something bad, so don’t give it extra time to be believed. Instead, ensure that you’re the first to know by using brand monitoring to head off a potential crisis. By closely monitoring whether any negative keywords are being used in association with your brand name, you can locate fake news stories and address them before they get out of control. Some monitoring software has built-in features that let you be the first to know when a communications crisis hits, so this technology could be a worthwhile investment.