What You Can Learn About Digital Marketing From The ‘Fake News’ Media Storm

When you’ve a been a webmaster and digital marketer or almost 20 years, along with all the niche websites you create, you also tend to build sites based around your passions… the stuff that’s important to you, that you feel strongly about.

Well, around 12 years ago I built such a site… an independent news website – somewhere to publish news the traditional media doesn’t.

I see it as a positive contribution I make to the world around me; exposing inequality and all that bad stuff that we can do something about.

Anyway, recently the site found its way onto a much publicized list of ‘fake news’ sites. There was uproar about it all over the world. It terrified me.

You’ve probably heard about it.

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You also might have an opinion about it.

But this is business.

Forget The Politics

The digital landscape is changing so fast it’s important to learn as much as we can from lessons when the opportunity presents itself.

When it comes to digital marketing we’re still finding out what works and what doesn’t.

You and I are in the process of writing the proverbial book on the subject, as we speak.

That means you can get a great amount of data almost everywhere you look, so here I’m going to tell you, from a marketing perspective, what it’s been like to be involved in the ‘fake news’ media storm.

And what I’ve found might surprise you.

So forget about the politics, instead I want you to benefit from some of the insights I’ve gained from being inside the media storm.

What I’m going to talk about here is the impact of being labeled ‘dangerous’ in the traditional media, and what something like this has done for my brand.

…You might think it’s game-over for me and everyone else on the list, but no.

It’s possibly been the best thing that has ever happened to us.

Let me explain.

Controversy Pays

I’m going to assume that you’re involved in digital marketing in some way.

You might be completely new or you might be a seasoned pro. It doesn’t matter, the lesson you’re going to learn here can be a valuable one.

I’m going to share a controversial technique with you.

But first a word of caution. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

Good marketers know how to get exposure. Great ones know what to do with it, right?


I’m going to use the word ‘authentic’ here, because it’s important. You can’t fake this stuff.

It’s scary and it’s gonna take some balls.

But the rewards can be immense.

The Bandwagon Effect

You see, there’s a psychological technique called the Bandwagon Effect, I go way-in-depth inside the members area and show you how you can use it to build a cult-like following, but it essentially boils down to this; we do stuff because the people we like do stuff.

We want to fit in, be part of the herd.

The people in your niche, as much as an individual snowflake each one might be, they ARE your herd.

Every group has 3 things in common… what I’m going to focus on here, the thing that benefits you right now, is to know about the ‘dissociative’ element.

What I mean by that is… a group, a situation, an idea.. something that your herd doesn’t want to associate with… the thing that will make them look bad in the eyes of their peers.

Us vs Them

Look at how Apple set themselves apart from Microsoft in their ‘Get a Mac’ advertising campaign.

We could spend all day breaking down these iconic adverts.. from examining the way the actors use clearly defined differences in body language, to their fashion, and their dialogue.

Here we can clearly see that Apple, for the most part, are using facts and figures – genuine statistics (if such a thing exists) to pummel the Windows operating system.

They’re making the OS look slow, buggy, outdated… and even worse, they make it look uncool.

Find Your Cool

Listen, me that I DON’T KNOW what cool is, my 15 year old kid assures me… but I do know that in 2006 Windows wasn’t it either:

Windows wasn’t fast.
It didn’t work effortlessly.
You couldn’t get things done efficiently.

At least THAT’S what Apple wanted you to believe.

Yet they’re both computers and they pretty much do the same things; the crazy thing is Windows was originally based on the Mac.

The approach Apple takes makes them feel low-key.. laid back, it doesn’t need your business, it doesn’t care if you buy or not.. it’s still doing its own thing either way.

But Apple isn’t JUST hitting the competition, they’re also tapping they’re into what their competition represents; Microsoft’s values.. at least their PERCEIVED values. And then mocking them while presenting a better, cooler alternative.

This is exactly what my hobby independent news site has been doing to the mainstream media since 2004… And finally, 12 years later, they bit back.

And an amazing thing happened when they did.

Creating Evangelical Fans

The allegiance of people who support independent media is now growing faster than ever. Their support and belief in my site alone has increased at a rate I have never seen before.

Not only in terms of website hits, social media shares and revenue, but their eagerness to rally against the mainstream because their when my values were attacked, THEIR values were attacked too.

Remember that I said authenticity is vital because you need to stand your ground?

Things might get rocky. So you gotta stand by what you believe in.

If you’re attempting to polarize your brand, your reasons must be 100% in line with YOUR herd.

The mainstream media failed on this account, and that’s why their widely publicized counter-attack backfired.

Very quickly it became apparent to everyone that the motivation was financial, it was about self-preservation. An attempt to rescue a dying business model by smearing the competition. In reality, newspaper profits have dropped to almost 30% in the last year.

People just saw through it.

Big Picture Thinking

The lesson you can take from this is; if you attack an idea, a cause or a figurehead, make sure your reason for doing so is legitimate, make it for the BENEFIT of your herd.

Put them first, your bottom-line second, and make the progress of your tribe the priority.

Find out what they despise, the villain in their story, and condemn them – with facts. Avoid hyperbole.

Educate, inform, or entertain as you do it.

It’s essential to keep your eyes on the big picture, your overall goals – avoid the temptation to shoot from the hip to criticize without understanding how it plays into your long term plan, and how it will directly improve your fans experience or desire to use what you’re selling.

Be authentic while offering a better solution and your herd will love you for it.

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