Last week we talked about the way Facebook and Google are fighting back against fake news. While those tech giants are waging the war at one level, there are strategies for individual publishers to protect themselves as well. Knowing your audience and how to gain their trust is vital for growing your reach and increasing the revenue can you make from your site. Use these tips as a foundation for the fight against fake news.
A new Pew Research study found that 62 percent of Americans get their news from social media. It’s increasingly become a way for publishers to get their content in front of readers, but it has some unique challenges that have to be addressed. Publishers should be sure the posts they craft do not come off as “click bait” or fake news. Exaggerating the importance of the article on the post can turn people off and affect how likely they are to come back to your site next time. Be genuine with the content, and readers will start to trust the publication when they see its posts on social media.
One of the quickest ways for a publishers to lose readers is to share inaccurate information. Writers and editors need to write stories in their area of expertise, assuring that the content is well thought out and accurate. In a survey done by Outbrain, 77 percent of respondents said they believe news from publishers they are familiar with. Writing about what you and your audience are passionate about will build a sense of a trust as your readers become more familiar with your perspective. And as your audience builds that trust with your content, they will do the same with your advertising partners, making your inventory more valuable.
Writers and editors should let the readers know why the publication is a good source for the topics it’s reporting on, and then back those up by posting good content. Tell readers what makes you a good source, and that you work hard to make sure your stories are well sourced. A case study done by Trusting News, a project put together by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, found that this was an effective way to build trust with readers. Publications should make sure that the readers know they care about the topic at hand, and respect the audience with how they tell the story. Writers posting content can even go so far as to explain how or why they chose the topic.
Publishers should make sure to nurture the kind of discussion in the comments section that reflects well on their publication. Readers need to know what kind of comments are acceptable based on the values that the publication has established. Publishers can’t be afraid to share their emotions in the stories, either, as this can help users engage with the site more openly. They should think about the conversations readers may already be having even before writing the content; that’s one way to generate content that readers will want to talk about.
Publications should also make the most of the fans they have already built relationships with. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask their followers to share, but they must make sure the content is something followers will actually want to share with their online network.
While most of the chatter regarding fake news revolves around the big players in the tech industry, each and every publisher can do things to help stem the tide of misinformation. Building trust takes time, but the rewards start to cascade. An audience that trusts the publication will engage with a site, and an audience that engages with a site will help boost monetization.
Do you have any other strategies that work well for you? Visit us on LinkedIn to join the discussion!