Great content: make it and then fake it

OK, this is a slightly misleading headline. It is not about pretending to be a great content producer. It is about a French social media campaign with a twist – and what content marketers can learn from it.

The story stems from an Instagram account that grabbed 65,000 followers in a matter of weeks. Louise Delage’s page contained, like most Instagram accounts, pictures of herself in various guises and places.

Of course, it was fake. The girl was a model while the pictures contained one common denominator: booze. In each pic, she was holding wine, a cocktail, bottles of beer etc.

Here is the twist. The campaign was set up to illustrate the dangers of addiction, the message being that even pretty people can get hooked.

Now, there’s an idea

If people were just into the girl, then the campaign failed – maybe even to the point that it glamorised drinking. On another hand, the ability to use ‘fake’ to generate quick traction is worth examining.

In an era when it is hard to get people’s interest, the idea of creating fake content to make a serious point is an interesting one.

For example, what if you specialised in online security. You could create a series of stories from a system administrator who has had their system compromised. It could be a series of articles or a blog on what they did about it. Face it, people love reading about other people’s problems.

But be careful

Creating this sort of fiction, which is essentially what it is, permits incredible freedom in terms of the story you want to tell. However, there are some rules to keep in mind:

  1. Get your timing right. Don’t drag the reader along for too long. At some stage you have to reveal the truth.
  2. Reasons. There must be a core reason to go down this route. When you reveal it is fake the customer must nod and get the point. The French addiction campaign had a key message; they were conning you to show that alcoholism can affect anyone.
  3. Beware the archive. These sorts of campaigns have a limited timespan – in other words, you don’t want someone coming across an isolated piece of fake content two years down the line and getting freaked out. If you keep it up, make sure there’s a link to the reveal.

In terms of strategy, fake content edges into the high-octane/handle with care category. But if you get the motivation right and make it entertaining – with a serious message – it could provoke substantial cut-through.

Great content: make it and then fake it is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.