Success is not always seen as a good thing, especially billionaires’ success such as in the case of Jeff Bezos.
This summer, a photo of Jeff Bezos’ alleged yacht circulated on Twitter. The “Flying Fox”, reportedly worth $400 million was shown near the coast of Turkey.
Before Amazon managed to respond that the yacht does not belong to Bezos, the post received thousands of engagements on Twitter and appeared on Business Insider, Esquire, Daily Mail, and other media outlets.
Although it is not clear who started the rumor, the photo managed to assemble an angry mob on Twitter:
The story sheds light on how easily disinformation spreads online. The usual suspects are to blame: social media users who do not examine the source of “news” and spread anything that supports their beliefs, the internet’s outrage culture, and the fact that online lies spread faster than the truth.
Companies and their leaders in the public eye need to shape online perceptions about them to minimize the risk of disinformation.
The narrative is set
It is very easy to add layers to an existing narrative. In this case, the narrative is the common belief that billionaires make their wealth at the expense of others. There have also been allegations that Amazon does not treat its workers fairly, pays low wages, and skimps on taxes. The company has been called out by Democratic candidates, President Trump, among other lawmakers.
An example of how quickly this narrative is fed: The new Twitter account Has Jeff Bezos Decided To End World Hunger? accrued 43k followers in a matter of a few months. Such content gains traction quickly because it perfectly suits the established narrative.
Don’t let others tell your story
Given how fast disinformation spreads online, companies need to have the systems in place for a rapid response. Keeping a steady eye on mentions and key words will give enough to act if you see hints that disinformation is starting to spread.
Although you cannot dictate the narrative, you can control your response. Your audience needs to know where you stand on key issues–and they need to be reminded frequently. Once a large audience knows who you are and what you stand for, attacks with lies will become more difficult.
Leading the conversation on your own terms, showcasing company values and bringing attention to the causes your company cares about is key. Focus on employee satisfaction, the most important factor in maintaining a positive corporate perception.
Despite the shifting narrative about Amazon, they remain the most loved company in the United States. The perception of impeccable service keeps customers loyal. However, they need to be sensitive to increasing criticisms regarding employee satisfaction.