Gaslighting In Content Marketing
- July 16, 2018
- Posted by: Robert Rose
- Category: Content Marketing
It’s a popular topic in marketing these days. We’ve discussed at length how it might be the biggest opportunity in content marketing. Building trust with audiences is the critical foundation for evolving them into leads, opportunities, customers, and loyal advocates of our brand. So, inevitably, we focus on how to establish valuable content that delivers authentic value.
But what if it’s not what our competitors are doing?
I had an interesting conversation while I was in Europe recently. A director of communications at a global healthcare company had developed a mature thought leadership program for a new procedure invented by her company. They developed a resource center and a robust media outreach program about it. However, their main competitor had begun to flood the internet with guest posts, magazine articles, native ad pieces, and original “research” offering “education” into how this new procedure was flawed and, therefore, unsafe.
The communications director likened the competitor’s approach to writing educational articles about why going out in the rain is extremely dangerous because you might be struck by lightning. As a result of these (technically correct but misleading) articles, physicians and other healthcare professionals were now asking if the procedure was, indeed, safe.
So, her question to me was: How can you counter a competitor that decides to gaslight your content marketing strategy?
If you’re not familiar with the term “gaslighting,” you’re certainly familiar with the pervasiveness of “fake news” and falsehoods affecting brands. News stories about a meth lab at Walmart, fake reviews on Amazon, and even fake social memes about an “Undocumented Immigrant Day” at Starbucks are just some of the recent examples.
While these recent examples are more dramatic, it’s the subtle approach like the one the healthcare company faces that are more insidious.
My advice: a focused and proactive content marketing strategy. Unfortunately, while she’s an early victim, gaslighting from our competitors (or even consumers) is something that will inevitably hit us all.
We already should be analyzing competitors’ content to help optimize strategies around concepts and keywords that help earn our consumers’ attention and trust. As scale and deepen our content marketing strategies, we’ll also have to decide how to combat the use of content that misleads our consumers.
It’s a new wrinkle in our effort to create value and an added bullet point for the business case of a smart content marketing strategy.
It’s your story. Tell it well.