‘Fake news’ has gotten a lot of news lately. Wait, don’t click away – this isn’t a political post. Strictly business.

What does fake news look like in your business? How real is your news feed? Are all of your photos meticulously styled? Do you only share good things that happen and never the challenges? Is your social feed like the #HobbyLobbyChallenge, and only looks good closely cropped? Is this real?

More importantly, is this the relationship you want with your friends and clients?

Lately, I feel a current of change, not only in my social media feed, but also in other media I follow. At a recent Rising Tide gathering I heard a significant amount of pushback against superficial feeds and artificial followings. There is a hunger for something meaty and real to sink your mind into. A hunger for SUBSTANCE.

There is a hunger for something meaty and real to sink your mind into. A hunger for SUBSTANCE.

Let’s get real

Throughout my career, business has been conducted in formality. In some industries this formal culture persists. For many, however, the culture of business has evolved to be more congenial and less formal. CEOs wear hoodies to work, jeans are in the board room, and let’s be real – I often work in my yoga pants. Business still gets done, we are just more comfortable doing it.

How does this ‘real’ show up on your social feeds and other communications? How do you straddle the line between projecting competence and being comfortable with your followers? Real does not mean unprofessional. What is appropriate depends upon you and your audience.

For example, everyone probably is not interested in what you had for breakfast. Unless, however, you are a health coach and your followers are looking for guidance on healthy living.

Relevant information that matches your follower’s needs is real.

NOT REAL is liking pages and feeds only to get a reciprocal like to pad your follower count.
NOT REAL is using click groups to artificially create engagement.
NOT REAL is tagging people you don’t know to gain a moment on their feed.
NOT REAL is buying followers.

Putting it into action – create REAL engagement with your followers

REAL let’s customers peek behind the scenes (give clients an understanding of what they hire you for)
REAL shares credit and celebrates collaboration (tag team members, vendors and partners)
REAL shows the WHY and the HOW and gives depth to your story
REAL creates conversation
and yes, sometimes REAL shows me working in my yoga pants ūüôā

You don’t have to search long to hear complaints that social media is shallow. What an opportunity to shine! In a sea of ‘fake’ you can stand out by being your authentic self. Think about your true story and how you can share that with your audience. Who are you behind the logo?

Step away from the over-polished feed into substance. Create the opportunity for your followers to become engaged in your brand and contribute to a richer dialogue that is meaningful for all.

Searching for Substance: One change you can implement today to increase your social engagement

A few months ago I wrote an article about curating your content to gain a competitive advantage in life and in business. (read) Recent events have made me revisit my thoughts.

A person¬†can find the answer to nearly anything on the internet. Google it. YouTube will show you how. But don’t believe everything you read. ¬†Not everything that is published on the internet is true.

A Washington Post article highlighted the very serious stakes of misinformation (read full article). During the recent presidential election, fake news was propagated via several social media channels. Botnets, networks and paid internet ‘trolls’ were used¬†to push both fringe extremist news and completely¬†fake news with specific agendas intended to bias American voters. These highly sophisticated propaganda engines exploited¬†social media algorithms¬†in a type of informational warfare. To make matters worse, the effort was aided by unknowing individuals that blindly liked, shared, and forwarded the misinformation. People tagged with an old cold-war term – ‘useful idiots.’

Ouch.

Through blind acceptance of¬†what is put on the internet, one¬†may have unwittingly contributed to undermining our election process, and some folks may have made their choice for US President based on lies.¬†In fact, a recent Stanford research study, as reported by NPR (read full article) found “Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability To Tell Fake News From Real.'” ¬†The study¬†assessed students and found they struggled to distinguish ads from articles, neutral sources from biased ones, and fake accounts from real ones.” Judging from my Facebook feed and cocktail party conversations, I’d say it isn’t just students who struggle in this area.

Add to this issue the plethora¬†of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ who peddle today’s version of snake oil cures online and at a home party near you. Get rich/beautiful/slim in 30 days and other such¬†schemes can lure in the unsuspecting customer who isn’t scanning for trouble.

So what is a person to do?¬†Don’t believe everything you read.

Don’t put important decisions into others’ hands. You need to be your own censor. It is up to you to be aware and be discerning about the information you consume and the sources you trust. This is especially important if you will be making personal, business, or nationally important decisions with the information. The more important the decision/action/results, the more you have a responsibility to ensure you are acting on correct¬†‚ÄĒ¬†and complete¬†‚ÄĒ¬†information.

The important note is that regardless of platform, you are in control of the content you consume.

– E. Gallegos

In my last post I issued a challenge to “create a new habit of being¬†deliberate about your media choices.¬†Curate your content.” ¬†This week I have a new challenge: create a new habit of fact-checking your information. Verify your content.

 

  1. Is this the complete story?
    A half truth or missing facts can make something seem different than it really is.
    Action: Check the fine print. Ensure you have all of the information.
  2. Is this information biased? 
    Check the source. Do they have something to gain? Is the information ‘sponsored’¬†‚ÄĒ¬† which means bought by¬†‚ÄĒ¬†someone who is trying to sway your actions?
    Action: Find the opposite, or an unbiased, perspective.
  3. Is this too good to be true?
    If something is too easy, too amazing, too perfectly aligned with¬†your needs, be cautious. Don’t click that link.¬†Don’t download the attachment.¬†Don’t give your time, money, or anything else¬†just yet.
    Action: Check the news/offer/information through a verified information source.
  4. Is this too bad to be true?
    Is it too extreme, too shocking? Some people just want to spread fear, hate, and trouble. Don’t let them use you to do it.
    Action: Check the news through a verification site like Snopes.com. Before you share, tweet, repeat¬†‚ÄĒ¬† ensure it is true.

Don’t be a useful idiot. Be careful what you put into your mind.

 

The high stakes of fake news and internet lies