The mass proliferation of fake news via social media is an unfortunately familiar problem. There’s now evidence of what we’ve long known. People are instinctively drawn to lies over the truth. Apparently, lies are more appealing and, paradoxically, believable. According to the author, “Human beings, it seems, are far more prone to believe and re-tell a lie than they are the truth. A lie is more attractive, more compelling, and more tempting to share than calm, rational truth.”
What we’re supposed to do about the impact of fake news on our politics and society is beyond the scope of the article (and this blog post). But here’s what we can take away from it: how marketing professionals and corporate communicators like us can use the same human psychology for good.
Two Rules for Mastering Your B2B Brand on Social Media
New is Better
Novelty, especially on social media, is a thrill. “When information is novel, it is not only surprising, but also more valuable – both from an information theory perspective (it provides the greatest aid to decision-making) and from a social perspective (it conveys social status that one is ‘in the know,’ or has access to unique ‘inside’ information).” How is this relevant to your brand’s social media marketing strategy? Obviously, no company should tell mistruths or even exaggerations. But novelty, newness and differentiation must define your social media voice and messaging.Novelty, newness and differentiation must define your social media voice and messaging.Click To Tweet
This doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Indeed, “no news is good news” continues to be the mantra for many corporate communicators, for whom, as the author writes, “Surprises tend to occur on the downside – profit warnings, cash calls, or unexpected threats to the business.” The danger is in letting a preference for stability influence marketing strategy. If every social media update reinforces the status quo, few people will be interested in what you have to say, ever. And that’s risky, especially in a world that values innovation and disruption.
Be Bold, Not Boring
It’s an argument that instantly reminded me of one of my 4 Big Rules for Writing Powerful Blog Content: “Say something counterintuitive.” In that blog post, I wrote, “It’s easy to add your voice to the chorus of opinions on the latest news, but unless you say something different, you’re not likely to be heard.” Companies like Amazon under Jeff Bezos (or Apple when its public face was Steve Jobs) maintain popular hype by always emphasizing their new and radical endeavors; they’re not just focused on paying investor dividends. A conservative approach might be more intuitive when communicating with investors and the public, but what builds a truly revolutionary brand is being bold, not complacent.
Your company’s overall communications strategy should reflect this approach. In the world of social media, however, it’s especially important to make sure your messaging is geared toward groundbreaking, thought-provoking novelty rather than keeping calm and carrying on. And you can perform a social good at the same time: maybe if more organizations weren’t afraid of stepping out of the box to share exciting facts, fewer people will scroll on down to the falsehoods.