Fake News, Fake People and Social Media

You hear a lot these days about fake news. Like false advertising, and fake people it all boils down to the same thing; you're being lied to. Social media gets blamed for perpetuating the trouble, but social media really isn't the issue. For a variety of reasons, people convince themselves that it's OK to do things they know are wrong...to put food on the table, to further a career, or to advance a cause, etc.

As far as news goes, there used to be trusted news sources but not so much any more. News used to be just that, news. Now it's hard to tell news from marketing and now that consumers are more aware, all news seems suspect. If it's really important, a story has to be double checked before sharing it because you feel like a dope for sharing false reports. We create laws to curtail such behavior but of course, it doesn't stop it. It just provides recourse sometimes.

Traditional marketers just don't know where to go with social media. For a while they were hoping it would go away and were completely dismissive of it, but now it made a man President (that probably otherwise wouldn't of had a chance) and that was only with the second largest brand of social media, Twitter. You got to respect the power of it in keeping a politician down to 140 characters per message, and he won? 

It's so much easier to come up with a one sided campaign for a specific audience. Engaging your audience used to be reserved for hard sell specialists. Also, it used to be that marketing would promote a product and if there was a problem with the product, how the company handled it was pretty much kept on the low down. How the problem was handled didn't go out to the masses and didn't necessarily affect the entire brand. It might get reported to the Better Business Bureau or a newspaper, but it was often forgotten after a while unless you were looking for it.

For consumers social media is considered a reliable source for information. Customers can review not just the product, but the overall experience and even individual employees. People who are researching a purchase are drawn to negative reviews. By many, they are considered more reliable. We all know that reviews can be paid for just like actors are paid for doing commercials, but the theory here is that no one would pay for a bad review and it's human nature to see how the company responded. When handled correctly you couldn't pay for that type of advertising.

Facebook is the number one social media platform. It's possible that this brand gets a bad rap from some people because of the word “friend”. Certain expectations come to mind when it comes to the word friend and that's really not what Facebook friends always are, especially if a person is only using it for business or to deliver messaging. Facebook allows you to sort your friends, but it's still really confusing for some. Sales people like Facebook because they want to be considered a friend, since friends are supposed to be reliable and trustworthy. Fake friends and fake people are a problem though for some of us. When you emotionally invest in something and find out it was not even real, it leaves a bad taste.

Fake people on social media are really easy to spot. You know these people are not reliable as an information source (or a possible friend) because the messages are always impersonal, repetitive and almost always, they are in a sort of advertising mode. After a bit even if the message they are conveying is a good product or service, you skip over the message because you already know what it is and why they are posting it. Most of us skip over those posts, especially if there's no interesting picture to pique your interest. Really good social media marketers know that they have to be subtle and precise with their messaging. In this last few years, even used car salesmen have changed their tactics for this very same reason. Even if you were in the market for a car, you were avoiding the salesmen.

Nonprofits have developed some of the most aggressive of social media/email campaigns. They tend to be very subtle at first in order to get your email address. Then horror stories and guilt campaigns arrive in your mail box in order to get donations.

It's tough to weed it all out, especially for people who are looking for relationships. Very often you will find people who agree with everything you say. At first you might think that it's wonderful, but they have their motives. No two people agree on everything. It's best not to engage in anything more than a casual relationship until you've had a few disagreements. Do keep in mind that a disagreement doesn't have to be a fight. If you can't find something to disagree about, red flags should be sounding off. Whatever they could be hiding might be a whopper of a secret! Keeping it casual may keep the drama to a minimum, although some people live for that drama especially in their teens and twenties. This is why dating sites are so popular.

Take heart, even some of us who study people have been fooled by dogmatic fake people. As long as you don't take social media too seriously and recognize the signs of fakes and sales pitches, social media can be a safe place to talk and get to know people from all kinds of backgrounds and a great place to find products and services in your area. 

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