The nature of modern life means that we are bombarded by information on a daily basis through our phones and computers. South African customers are often inundated with so much information that they stop believing everything they see. Unfortunately, not all information is truthful, either. 

The growth of “fake news” and “disinformation” has created a culture of distrust, making it difficult for businesses to interact with potential customers and maintain long-term relationships. The value of ethical marketing methods in today’s digitised world cannot be underestimated.

Disinformation vs misinformation: Understanding the difference

Disinformation and misinformation, though sometimes used interchangeably, have distinct meanings:

  • Disinformation is the purposeful distribution of incorrect or misleading information in order to deceive others. Disinformation campaigns are frequently carried out with malicious intent, with the goal of influencing public opinion, causing reputational damage, or manipulating behaviour.
  • Misinformation refers to erroneous or misleading information that is distributed unintentionally. Misinformation can arise from genuine errors, misunderstandings, or just distributing information without checking its correctness.

While both practices can destroy confidence, disinformation is a more serious issue because it is deliberate and often carefully designed and orchestrated. There are many companies that use disinformation to promote their products and services, so consumers need to be extra careful and scrutinise everything they see or read.

Why do false narratives spread?

Several factors contribute to the spread of disinformation online. Social media “echo chambers” occur when algorithms provide individuals content that supports their pre-existing ideas. This creates a scenario in which people are predominantly exposed to information that reinforces their pre-existing biases, making them vulnerable to accepting misleading stories.

Disinformation frequently plays on people’s emotions, such as fear or wrath. Emotionally charged content is more likely to be shared and believed, even if it lacks factual support. In addition, the rise of bots and trolls has not helped the situation. Automated bots and anonymous online users (trolls) can be employed to quickly propagate misleading information throughout social media platforms. 

These profiles can instill a false feeling of agreement and control online discourse. These variables combine to produce a fertile field for the propagation of disinformation, providing a substantial challenge to both South African companies and consumers.

The power of transparency and honesty

In a distrustful online environment, South African companies must work on building genuine trust with their customers. South Africans value authenticity; according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, South Africans place a high value on authenticity and transparency in their relationships with businesses.

This honesty increases loyalty. Consumers are more inclined to stick with brands that they believe to be honest and trustworthy. In turn, transparency encourages advocacy. When a company is open about its procedures and values, customers are empowered to become brand advocates, promoting favourable word-of-mouth recommendations.

The function of ethical digital marketing agencies

Working with an ethical digital marketing agency is essential for navigating the complex world of internet disinformation. The right agency can help your company by fact-checking all the information they produce before disseminating it online. A credible agency will prioritise truthful campaigns to ensure that all marketing materials contain accurate and verifiable information.

Transparency in advertising is vital. Ethical marketing avoids deceptive practices and instead uses clear, concise messages that correctly portray the product or service being sold. A well-executed digital marketing strategy prioritises long-term brand reputation through trust and openness.

At Mobimeme, we are proud to be an ethical digital marketing agency. We collaborate closely with our South African clients to create digital marketing campaigns that are not only effective, but also ethical and transparent. We also engage with your audience by actively responding to comments and inquiries on social media channels. Addressing these issues and providing accurate information is an important part of community management.

Companies should encourage their audiences to be critical consumers of information online. Before sharing information, give suggestions for selecting credible sources and validating it. These practices will improve your credibility and trustworthiness with customers. The results will then speak for themselves. If you need advice or assistance with your digital marketing efforts, please contact us today for an assessment or to get started. 


Mobimeme offers various digital services, including content marketing, SEO, analytics, social media management and expert direction in the digital sphere. Building and growing online audiences for your business is what we do best. For more insights, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.