What ‘Fake News’ Can Teach You About Event Marketing

What ‘Fake News’ Can Teach You About Event Marketing

Everyone is talking about fake news. What it is, how prevalent it is and who is or is not responsible for it.

Fake news is a scourge.

It causes societal disruption.

It is also wildly popular.

Gartner's digital trends report for 2018 shares a startling prediction that "By 2022, most people in mature economies will consume more false information than true information."

The reason why is this: People are drawn to fake news because it caters to their biases.

Add to that the enormous advancements in CGI and voice-mimicking software and even people who pride themselves on their critical thinking skills will no longer be able to discern quickly the difference between reality and AI manufactured counterfeit reality.

However, event marketers can use some lessons from fake news to their advantage. Here are five lessons fake news can teach you about event marketing:

1. Segmentation is your best friend

Would fake news be successful if it were poorly targeted? No.

Exploring and understanding your audiences so that you can craft messaging and advertising that is more effective and more likely to be shared is not a wasted endeavor. Want proof? Look at the Facebook news feed of a friend who holds opposite political ideologies than you do (Hopefully, you have one or two of those).

You will quickly discover their feed looks nothing like your own because the news sources and articles will be skewed to show them what they want to see. If they did not like or share that content with others, Facebook's algorithm wouldn't keep serving it to them.

Because audience segmentation is time-consuming and costly, marketers often only use it for a specific marketing campaign, or they ignore it altogether.

Fake news creators do not ignore audience segmentation. They dig into it deeply so that they know exactly the people they are trying to reach, where their intended audience hangs out online, and what types of media they pay the most attention to so that the smart marketer may be reasonably sure their message will land.

Ask yourself: Who makes up my audience and how can I get better at audience segmentation today?

2. Brand development and alignment is key

What would happen if someone from an unknown, recently created Twitter account posted a negative and untrue comment about your event (or board chair? Or sponsor?)?

Would people believe it? Would the character of your brand and those most closely related to it bear close examination?

Alternatively, would your audience imagine that it was not only possible but most likely true—forever tarnishing their opinions of your brand?

If people don't take the time to identify whether or not something is verifiably real, then how can you protect your event from misinformation whether it’s spread online or elsewhere? Listen to this clip from WNYC’s On the Media podcast of a conversation with Dartmouth College’s Brendan Nyhan for more on identifying and verifying fake news.

Being consistent with your brand, including your brand's voice, actions and colors, can help people at least pause before assuming the worst.

Gartner's report suggests brands "cultivate a pattern of behavior and values that will reduce the ability of others to undermine you." Curation is an excellent next step in improving your audience's understanding and feeling for your essential brand.

Ask yourself: How can I make it easier for my audience to trust me and/or my brand?

3. Think differently about your agreements

When filmmakers use a deceased actor's video footage to recreate that actor's likeness in their movie (called a "double take" as further examined in this CBS News article that describes the technology used in Star Wars: Rogue One), does the actor get paid?

Today your event speakers and personalities may not include a clause about whether you can use their likeness connected to your meeting after they die, but they might start adding it into their contracts in the near future. This issue, which seems odd now, but that may be the norm in a few years, should make you think about if there are other areas you need to examine for protection that you never considered before.

Ask yourself: How might the advancements in CGI, audio and video impact my existing, potential and future contracts? Do I need to change how I review and finalize contracts to account for this?

4. Monitor your brand fervently

You need to monitor your brand and probably your most significant sponsors' and speakers' names, too, via Google, social media and other outlets, for good measure more now than ever before. And if you aren't already doing this regularly, get moving!

With an increasing amount of fake news targeting political campaigns, celebrities and even local businesses, companies need to carefully monitor what is posted about their brand online and the context for those posts.

The goal is to know if and when it happens as quickly as possible and the next step is to move into your crisis communication plan (which, if you don't have one, look into that).

'Nuff said.

Ask yourself: What do I need to do—and what tools do I need—to make sure I know when my brand is mentioned (or someone closely affiliated with my brand is mentioned) in a negative light?

5. Investigate invisible watermarks and stay on top of video forensics

Imagine a board member growing angry with his organization and using advanced CGI to modify a video of an official meeting for revenge.

This may seem outlandish right now, but it’s worth considering.

In an age when we are being asked to provide proof that our content is real and can stand up to any doctored footage, identifying a way to proactively protect official meeting footage with technology (like invisible watermarks) is a stable starting point.

The technology isn't foolproof but significantly helps prove authenticity. The harder you make your videos to manipulate, the less likely they will be.

Ask yourself: How can I use technology to protect my brand's content when fake news is on the rise?

In Conclusion

We will not stop fake news anytime soon. However, by keeping our brand(s) consistent, segmenting our audiences, reevaluating our agreements, monitoring mentions and proactively protecting our content, we can learn from its example and better defend ourselves, while making our brand(s) even stronger.

Editors' Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.

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Posted by KiKi L'Italien

KiKi is the founder and CEO of Amplified Growth, a D.C.-based digital marketing consultancy.

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