‘Fake News’ is not a new concept – but with the revolution of social media – ‘real’ stories and ‘fake’ stories are hard to differentiate.

The web has made the sharing of information and content easier, more accessible – and rather scarily, also enabled the sharing of dishonest reporting, fabricated content, and ‘fake’ or made-up stories. As Winston Churchill once said:”A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”.

Whilst ‘dishonest reporting and fabricated news may not be new – it is interesting to explore how this bogus content affects the consumer and the way we perceive brands.

The first question to ask is:

Does the awareness of ‘fake news’ affect the way one engages with digital content?

A research study conducted by Hill Holliday across 18-61 year
olds shows that 54% of consumers seem to be wary of what they read online. 41% check out what they read against a second source and 38% distrust sites that have provided fake content previously. Humorously – 20% distrust everything just by the virtue of the fact that fake news exists out there.

Understandably, an overwhelming majority of 55% are mostly concerned about dishonest reporting and lack of journalistic integrity when it comes to current news – the 9% who are concerned about fake reviews on Yelp or Amazon are the more digitally savvy amongst us.

The second question to ask is:

How do consumers feel about brands as a result?

According to Hill Holliday’s research, most consumers are concerned with the quality of the product or service they are purchasing. As a result, if a chosen brand generated fake content about their services or products, 59% would stop buying that brand immediately and 64% are said to be more likely to shop with that brand if they know they are truthful about their business.

Consumers relate to brands, like most things, as a relationship – once they are lied to, they are unlikely to trust them again. Loyalty and trust are the foundations of positively perceived global brands.