Influence in the post-truth era

The phenomenon of fake news is challenging how we separate and define high-quality content. Which begs the question: what exactly is high-quality content?

The phenomenon of fake news is challenging how we separate and define high-quality content. Which begs the question: what exactly is high-quality content?

With consumer confidence and trust in the media at an all-time low due to fake news and “alternative facts”, you have to wonder what impact it really would have if the media could effectively separate facts from falsehoods.

I heard Vox Media’s CEO, Jim Bankoff, argue recently that the phenomenon of fake news is challenging how we separate and define high-quality content. Which begs the question: what exactly is high-quality content? It’s no longer solely informative. That may be a by-product, but audiences today want to be engaged. Engaging an increasingly skeptical audience requires stories that trigger emotion, are completely authentic, and draw you in quickly – three of the seven elements that David and Jennifer Aaker, who coined the term ‘Signature Stories’, rank high on their list of criteria.

Enter micro-influencers, whose experiences often mirror that of their niche (but not necessarily small) audiences, and whose level of knowledge is grounded in experience and passion. Because of this, they have real-life stories to share which are compelling and told in a way that makes you want to keep following them.

Take Millennial Money Man where Bobby Hoyt tells the story of how he paid back $40,000 in student loan debt on a teacher’s salary in just two years. Today Bobby has 19,200 visits to his blog per month and over 16,200 Twitter followers. They look to him for advice on how to save and spend their dollars wisely because they can relate to his stories, recognize that his content is grounded in experience, and are drawn into following the ups and downs of his life.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget about promoting fact-based perspectives; you can bet that everyone from CNN to Facebook are working hard on how to best separate fact from falsehoods. We can only hope that as a result, the media will regain public confidence and trust. But while they figure it out, one of the best things you can do as a brand is to look at extending your integrated marketing efforts to include influencer relations – if you aren’t already doing so.

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