As the U.S. election wrapped up, it became nearly impossible to log onto social media and avoid the multitude of partial truths, conspiracy theories and down-right falsehoods on our feeds. Then began the fact-checking explosion: everywhere you look, there is an alert or tag stating that the information contained within a post is false or exaggerated.
Association professionals have the unique responsibility of leading their industries, but how can you make a difference when everything online seems overwhelmingly false? Combating false information online is where associations can step in to truly make a difference — and it starts with becoming part of the solution and not part of the noise.
Combating false information is less about shooting down or fact-checking others — there are processes for that already in place — it’s really about curating and creating fact-based, reliable information for consumers.
No longer can associations just publish information in a whitepaper or news article and expect it to be received by many. Now, associations must actively work to engage and entice their audiences to view their materials over other sources. That means promoting their work on all platforms, utilizing SEO strategies, adding influencers to your team and creating a solid strategy for information sharing.
“In the golden age of media, we had storytelling,” said Social Driver Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Anthony Shop. “In the digital age of media, we need to focus on story driving.”
Shop describes a three-pronged approach to developing a marketing and communications strategy for today’s world: attention, intention and mention.
Brand communications is the foundation of attention marketing. Public relations, advertisement, email lists and more are all forms of attention marketing — basically anything to grab your audience’s attention.
“The hope is that people who get that information, they want to get it, so they’ll actually believe it,” Shop said.
Taking a purposeful approach to sending information to your audience will help to combat the false information overload on social media. If you can grab their attention — and keep it — your association can solidify its place as a trustful source.
“What are people already looking for?” asked Shop. “How can I help them complete their journey?”
These are the questions your association must ask when creating a strategy for combating false information. Figure out what the big questions are and answer them — and then act accordingly. Update your website to include information on the topic or aggregate multiple trustworthy sources and share them with your audience.
“Mention marketing is all about how you get somebody else to tell your story for you, how can you get them to drive that story?’” shared Shop. “One of the things we did with FamilyDoctor.org is created a really fun video that featured healthcare workers about how not to wear a mask. It shows them wearing a bandana all kinds of different ways and then at the end, it shows the correct way.”
Because of the features from real people, the fun music and humorous storytelling, this video was widely shared. Creating your own sharable content lets your association be seen by a wider audience, helping you more quickly become a reliable source and thought-leader.
Utilizing these three marketing strategies to build your own is the first stepping stone toward combating false information online. It takes perseverance, change and a willingness to put your association in the spotlight. Having these qualities will make combating false information an easy and effective way to positively influence your industry.
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Ashley Neal joined the Sidecar team in March of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down life as we knew it. Having to adapt, overcome and predict the changes needed to survive in the new normal, Ashley now has the skills needed to juggle any obstacle thrown her way. A graduate from Southeastern Louisiana University in the field of Strategic Communications, Ashley spends her days balancing her work with her love of dogs. Taking her large pack of dogs to restaurants, hiking trails, vacations and even participating in dog shows and sports is the highlight of her weekends.
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