Why Do Sensible People Believe Fake News?

You’re scrolling through Facebook, and you see that a friend has linked to an article; you glance at the title and realise that it’s nonsense. Or you’re chatting to a family member, and they share their opinion about politics; you discover they believe things that you’re sure aren’t true. In the information-filled world of today, it’s easy to come across fake news, propaganda, and rumours. But why is it passed on by people who seem otherwise sensible and intelligent?

It’s easy to assume that someone who believes fake news items must be lacking intelligence. It’s easy to say “Oh, that’s typical – that kind of person wouldn’t even question the lies they’re told.” It’s easy to think that other people aren’t as well-informed as you are. But when people you’ve known for years, whose opinions you’ve trusted in the past, begin to repeat nonsense, it’s not so easy to assume that they’re misinformed, credulous, or just plain stupid.

The answer has nothing to do with intelligence; it’s because the human brain is hardwired to help people live in communities. Scientists know that there are parts of the brain that help you to understand what other people are doing. Scans show that when you watch another person do something (e.g., lift a box down from a shelf), your brain responds as if you were doing that action. Brain cells called mirror neurons cause this reaction, and they’re essential to help you get on with other people.

For example, you’re standing next to someone in a supermarket who suddenly raises their hands above their head. Your mirror neurons fire when you see them move and your brain gets the message that “they’re doing the same movement that I do when I want to get a box from the top shelf.” If you didn’t have mirror neurons, you wouldn’t know whether that person was going to attack you, dance, or try climbing up the display unit. You’d spend your life being confused and anxious because you’d never understand other people’s actions.

Because it’s not a conscious process, a person isn’t aware this is happening. Nonetheless, the brain successfully makes hundreds of assessments every day about what other people intend. However, in the virtual world of 24-hour news, opinion, and social media, the brain starts to struggle. When the person sees that someone has liked a post on Facebook, their mirror neurons automatically send a message saying, “Hey, I understand what happened there; it’s just the same as when I like something.” It’s important to remember this isn’t a conscious decision. Nobody is constructing a rational argument in their head saying, “Well if Dave from work likes this, then I’m sure I’ll like it too.” It’s an immediate response: when they see another person liking something, the same parts of their brain become active as would be involved if they’d liked it themselves.

Once you know this, it’s easier to understand why otherwise sensible and rational people will believe something that isn’t true. Of course, there are echo chambers online; social media providers show users the kind of content that will keep them engaged. Studies have found that most people who retweet a link to a news article don’t click on it themselves; that makes it easier for trolls and bots to spread malicious content. Because seeing someone hit “like” has the same effect on your brain as if you had done so yourself, the fake news seems less threatening, less strange, and more believable.

That seems like bad news for truth and honesty, but there are reasons to be optimistic. Brain scans show that when test subjects are given specific instructions before they watch another person, different mirror neurons become active. In other words, if you get extra information, then the mirror neurons in your head don’t match what the other person is doing. That suggests that if you’re prepared to be critical of things you see shared online, then even if you see other people liking them, your brain won’t act as though you do.

It can be mystifying when people you know and respect believe things that aren’t true, at least until you learn about the way mirror neurons work. Although their primary function is to help people understand each other, they make the brain act to match what other people are doing. That is why seeing someone like or favourite or retweet something is so powerful, and why otherwise thoughtful, intelligent people can get fooled so easily.

Why Do Sensible People Believe Fake News originally posted on Huffington Post

These 5 Intriguing Startups Are Building the Future of Smart Cities

Smart Cities Image

Machine learning. Smart sensors. AI-enabled infrastructure planning. This is the future of urban development thanks to startup companies within the smart city sector. There is growing interest in smart city technology, as software and hardware converge to create tools and resources for city planners. Future cities will use everything from sensor-enabled buses to IoT-enabled cameras to understand the movement of their citizens and plan future infrastructure spending. If you want a peek into the future of city planning, check out five up-and-coming startups in the smart city sector.



Automotus provides an intelligent camera network to cities to help them better manage their parking infrastructure. The Automotus camera network enables everything from automated parking enforcement to city development and economic planning based upon detailed data. If you want to know what the data-enabled cities of the future will look like, check out Automotus.



Eluminocity offers LED street lights with built-in charging stations for electric vehicles. As the popularity of electric transportation grows, cities will need to develop infrastructure to accommodate electric vehicles and encourage the switch from fossil fuel transportation to electric.



 Topos is bringing artificial intelligence to city planning. Still in the early stages of development, Topos’ technology will help city planners better understand their data and act upon their information thanks to AI interpretation.



Based out of Santiago, Chile, Hiri is developing smart sensors for air quality testing. City planners will be able to use Hiri technology to create real-time visualizations of air quality and generate reports based on their data. Individuals will be able to use Hiri data to understand air quality in their location or discover air quality data about locations they are planning on visiting.


Building Intellect

Building intellect is developing smart mapping technology for cities. Combining smart sensors and software, their MotionMap technology will allow cities to understand everything from their public transportation data to the tracking of pedestrian traffic.

These five startups are just a small sampling of the innovation happening in the smart city sector. Forward thinkers are developing a wide array of technology to help create intelligent cities. The urban centers of the future will operate much differently than today’s cities thanks to the ongoing development in the smart city sector. Keep your eyes on smart city startups; they truly are building the future.

Where next for local government?

It’s Monday morning and Ellie’s recycling hasn’t been collected, frustrated she sends a DM to the council Twitter account on her way out of the house. Using geolocation it dispatches a drone to go collect the bag that was missed by the refuse collection and sends her a picture to show it being removed. Later, during her lunch break, her local councillor calls her, after receiving a notification on their phone that a resident had an issue, to apologise for the error.

A far flung future? Or local government in the next decade?

Local government is entering an incredibly exciting, and scary, period. Huge changes in funding have meant for many councils a radical rethink of their finances. No longer is reliance on their grants a sustainable plan, in fact a world where there is no grant on offer is entirely foreseeable.

So what will become of local government?

In many areas it needs to get braver. It needs to leap through the challenges before it by embracing technology, by reshaping the role of local councillor, by redefining what a council service is and by harnessing the power of data analytics to increase the targeting of services.

Social media, for example, is allowing councils to directly interface with residents in a way that removes the need for long queues in council receptions or a dull waits on the phone. And whilst this form of interaction is still in its infancy, as we see the generation of ‘digital natives’ (those people who have been born into and grown up with a digital first world) replace the demand of other generations it becomes an entirely plausible proposition.

Local councillors too can embrace this new world. In a future where the ability for councils to directly respond to residents, whose ‘digital native’ upbringing makes them want a council that schedules around them and not the other way round, why can’t a new generation of connected community councillors act as an ever greater gateway into the council. Thus reducing the frontline demand coming into the council, freeing up its resource to deal with those who most need its services.

But the very definition of a council service also needs to be reviewed to ensure that in the 21st century it meets up to both the expectations its future consumers will have on it and the changing way they’ll wish to access it.

In a hypermobile world a static council with its obscure functions and processes, its opaque structure and its endless forms is not an organisation that ‘Generation Z’ will want to transact with. Services will need to be redesigned and redefined from the front end to the back end.

Greater targeting will also need to be on the agenda. Rather than serving tens of thousands of residents, assessing thousands and delivering a service to hundreds councils need to grow more adept at identifying those who would be eligible for their service and passporting them right through to the delivery of the service – removing needless demand on council resource and enabling greater self-service by residents.

Big data and more indepth analytics of those consuming councils services will make this an entirely feasible, and cost saving, possibility. By understanding and mapping the characteristics that make someone eligible for each of its services and ensuring it captures this information when residents interact with the business it can direct them to the service they need with minimal staff resource and maximum self-service.

7 tips for enhancing B2B marketing campaigns with online video

Consumers just love video and that includes other business’s buyers too. Over 182 million people in US alone watched online video in September, engaging in a total of 39.8 billion video views. Now savvy B2B marketers are quickly realising the power of online video in their email and social media marketing campaigns.

Nothing sells products and services more efficiently and effectively than a compelling, well-made video where companies can actually see your article or service in action, as demonstrated by real people. YouTube video channels also allow your company the opportunity to seek feedback from clients and other businesses and respond to their questions, as well as promoting your products. Links can also be posted direct to your company website, making ordering easy and boosting sales. YouTube viewers are also provided with various social media buttons and a call to action to share the video with their contacts, further promoting your brand and widening your base of potential prospects and sales leads.

Here are seven great tips for harnessing the power of online video in your company’s email and social media marketing strategy.

1. The 60 second rule

Make sure your video is 60 seconds or less. Stats show that online video viewers lose interest and move on after 60 seconds, so don’t waste time producing a stunning online video that goes on forever; your key message may not be received.

2. Get your message across

You must send the viewer a clear message in the first few seconds of the video which spells out exactly what you are offering them. Engaging online videos quickly and concisely deliver the main element of the message at the very beginning, and this is proven to increase conversion rates. Tell the viewer what your offer is right at the start to encourage them to continue watching the whole video. Always include a clear call to action at the end of the video to remind the viewer of the action you’re wanting them to take.

Steer clear of videos that just serve to highlight your brand; these are a turn off for viewers.

3. Utilise existing resources

You don’t have to spend a fortune on making your video. Most companies have already invested in good quality, approved marketing tools like logos and images, and these can be recycled in combination with professional-grade graphics or stock videos to make great marketing videos.

However, it is a good idea to use a professional media consultancy firm to produce the video for you. Although this will require a little more investment, you’ll save money by using your existing marketing tools and the professional finish will be worth it.

4. Embed linked thumbnail images

Users like to make minimal effort when it comes to accessing message content. The best method of integrating your online video into your email and social media campaigns is to embed a thumbnail image linked to the video that includes a “play” button. When the recipient clicks the play button, they are automatically directed to a browser window which displays the video on a video marketing landing page.

5. Brand your video landing pages

Although YouTube is a great place to host your marketing videos, it can be even more effective if you use your own branded landing page. This provides you with control over the user experience and also allows space for text-based offers, lead capture forms and more calls to action.

The landing page should reinforce the intended call to action of your whole marketing campaign, as well as reflecting your company brand.

6. Mobile video and web support

So many people use smartphones to surf the web now, so it’s vital all your video-based email marketing and social media campaigns can be delivered using both HTML5 and Flash formats. It’s important to note that Flash videos cannot be viewed from iPads or iPhones, which means that you will be missing out on potentially thousands of leads if you neglect to accommodate these users.

It’s also crucial to make sure that you keep up to speed with mobile developments and upgrades, so that your campaigns remain viewable and viable over all mobile media.

7. Analyse results

Analytics gathered from all your marketing initiatives are very important if you are to accurately measure the success of your campaigns and make any necessary adjustments to improve their performance. Video viewership stats including number of views, time viewed, duration of viewing, and traffic sources will help you to understand when a particular video is effective and when it isn’t. Online videos can also be utilised to great effect for A/B testing.

A good video can really enhance your email and social media marketing campaigns, whether they are directed at other business clients or to a wider audience. Follow the tips above to help maximise your promotional video and boost your sales.

Hold on tight – the millennials are here!

I take a keen interest in management trends and how businesses adapt to the world around them. A very interesting change is underway as those born in the 1980s through to the late 1990s start to influence corporate culture.

The so-called ‘millennials’ are a generation that have never known life without the internet; everything they have ever done has been shared, posted, Googled or Snapchatted across social media. Their attitudes to money and careers are radically different to the generation before and they have a lack of enthusiasm for traditional corporate structures. As they take their places in the management teams of companies, we are seeing a slow transformation of how businesses are run.

If we stand back and take a wider look, we can see that there are many trends emerging as a direct result of the influence of millennials in management. Here are just a few:

Flexible working as the norm

Millennials are very comfortable with technology and this has no doubt led to the rise of remote working as a valid employment option, however it is not the only factor. A strong value placed on work-life balance coupled with an awareness of being part of a 24/7 economy, has led millennials to embrace remote working as a way of life. This in turn has led to fresh approaches in management thinking, with millennial managers facing up to the challenge of galvanising remote teams in innovative ways. A phrase coming to the fore is ‘the gig economy’ as young workers prefer to freelance, soaking up knowledge from many employers rather than stay in one place. Presenteeism, loyalty and staying late at the office are no longer pre-requisites to a successful career.


Millennials love to collaborate. It’s a creative and productive method of working and employers who have encouraged a collaborative approach are now reaping the rewards and attracting young talent. From a management point of view this places a high degree of reliance on technology and influences the hiring policy for all levels of staff.


The app boom and the success stories of contemporaries such as Mark Zuckerberg give millennials the confidence to pursue original approaches to business. ‘Crazy ideas’ in the board room are becoming the norm and thinking differently has led to some radical business approaches.

Social consciousness

Never knowing life before the internet has given us a generation of plugged-in, socially aware global citizens. As these people find their way into management, we are seeing more companies make meaningful contributions to society with their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. We are also seeing bold and direct approaches to reputation management due to their implicit understanding of social media and its effect on brand perception.

IT policies

Millennials expect to be able to use whatever software or hardware they think is suitable. This has seen the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in previously strict corporate environments. Rather than IT departments dictating policies, millennials are choosing the best tool for the job and this has led to more productive workforces. At board level there are concerns about the risk of exposing data, however the industry has responded with tools and techniques to keep company data safe, while giving wide access on a range of devices.

New performance measures

Annual appraisals and box-ticking of ‘goals achieved’ does not suit the millennial-friendly workplace. Guiding performance on a more frequent, less formal basis provides better results than the old-fashioned annual appraisal. This has meant companies having to overhaul their entire approach to HR to make it more employee-centric but this process has improved the effectiveness and productivity of young employees.


Millennial managers are known as excellent listeners and problem solvers. This means their teams feel empowered to change processes, influence decision making and speak up. In turn this ‘flattens’ the traditional hierarchy of management and arguably creates better, more productive working relationships.


Rates of pay are still an important part in the career choice of the millennial, but it’s not the only factor when they are deciding where they want to work. Company culture is as important to them as their pay packet and as they get into management positions, we see a trend towards organisations being far more people-focused.

It’s easy to criticise and malign millennials for their failure to conform to ‘the way its always been’, however if we embrace the strengths of this radically different generation, we will see fresh approaches in HR, IT, Management and CSR. This is a much-needed shot in the arm as we try to get to grips with how to manage businesses in a global market. I believe the millennials have the answers, we just have to allow them to guide the changes to get us there.

How to handle a social media crisis

As a tool for raising awareness about your brand, social media scores top marks. When people like or share what is being posted about your business, social media earns its stripes as one of the most influential online branding strategies around.

But what happens when something detrimental to your clean-cut reputation is posted online? Negative comments tend to grab attention quicker than positive ones, and have the ability to spread like wildfire across the internet. When such a social media crisis strikes, knowing how to handle the situation effectively is crucial, so you can nip it in the bud and limit any damage caused to your reputation.

Be prepared

You can prevent a social media crisis from turning viral like an infectious disease by being prepared before an attack even happens. Having a reputation management crisis plan already in place means you’ll know how to respond when negative comments are published. Your plan should include who is responsible for dealing with the crisis, what steps you should take and what guidelines to follow. Frontline staff who use social media should also be educated on this issue.

Keep your eyes open

In order to know if anything unsavoury is being said about you on social media, keep a watchful eye on various sites on a regular basis to monitor any potential threats to your good name. Timing is of the essence when a social media crisis erupts, so being at the ready from the first negative outpouring is crucial. There are various tools you can use to monitor when your brand is being mentioned online, so it’s worth investigating these as part of your crisis prevention strategies.

Respond quickly

As soon as you spot a negative slur about your brand on social media, never ignore it in the hope it will disappear. Respond immediately. Even if you don’t have an instant solution to the problem, at least acknowledge the comment and reply by saying you will look into the issue.

Avoid a slanging match

Even if the negative comments you receive about your business are unjustified or the person who made them is in the wrong, avoid going on the defensive and never get into a slanging match. Social media is like a global stage, so it is imperative to retain your dignity and professionalism at all times. It may seem strange to write an apology if you know you haven’t done anything wrong, but it will show that, either way, you care about what your customers or followers think. Obviously, if the negative comments are valid, it’s also important to accept your mistakes and take full responsibility. Never lie, as you will risk being regarded as an untrustworthy brand.

Keep communicating

You can help to redeem your good reputation by showing that you take negative comments seriously, and are committed to finding a quick but suitable resolution. If you need time to investigate any negative allegations, it’s important that you remain transparent and keep your social media followers informed of the proceedings, so that they feel they are being kept in the loop.

Even if you have no updates to give them, let them know that you’re still doing your best to resolve the situation. Open up a dialogue with your social media followers, if necessary, so that they can ask questions and feel that they are not being ignored during this crisis.

Be careful about what other things you post on social media during this time, however. Your followers may get annoyed if you publish anything that may be deemed insensitive or controversial to the specific crisis. Equally, if you need time to investigate the complaint posted on social media, but continue to churn out lots of content, it may look like your priorities are in the wrong place.

Learn from the experience

Hopefully, you’ll quickly find a satisfactory resolution to the social media crisis. How you communicate this is just as important to the actual solution you provide. Although a social media crisis can be detrimental to your brand reputation, if you handle the situation effectively and show your professional, caring side, you can limit the damage caused, and may even be able to turn a negative situation into one that can enhance your brand image.

The vital factor following a social media crisis is to learn from the experience, so you can understand what the challenges were that you faced, and how you would handle them better or differently, if you find yourself in that situation again.

5 ways to use Twitter to build your business

Social media is an effective marketing tool for any business and the good thing about it is that it can be completely free of charge. If you want to grow your business, it is imperative to have a strong social media presence and to use it effectively.

Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms for business use and with over 300 million active users per month, you have many potential customers at your disposal. As with any social media platform, it is important to develop a strategy to use it to your full advantage. These are some of the most effective ways to use Twitter to build and promote your business

1. Effective profile

Unlike many other social media platforms, Twitter has a restriction on how many characters you can use, so it is important to ensure you use these wisely on your profile. Your profile should explain what your business is and should be brief and to the point. You should incorporate hashtags into your profile, as this is the way in which people will find you. For example, if you are a plumber, you should use #Plumber somewhere in your profile, as well as your location. You should also have a link to your website on your profile. It is thought that people react more to a personal photo than a business logo, so it is a good idea to upload a friendly but professional looking image. This makes people feel like they are talking directly to someone, rather than just a company profile.

2. Follow relevant people

When you start your journey on Twitter, you should think carefully about who you want to follow. For example, who are your potential customers and what location are you working in? If you are offering a trade, such as window cleaning, you will only have the means to travel a certain distance, so it is important to only aim for customers within this region. On the other hand, you may offer a service which can be suitable for anyone in the world, such as copywriting, so in this case, location won’t be an issue. Take some time to work out your target market and follow accordingly.

Other useful people to follow include business partners who may be able to support your business and local networking groups. It is also useful to follow competitors, as you can find out what they are doing and gain access to their followers, which are your potential customers. ManageFlitter is a useful tool as it allows you to perform advanced searches based on bio and location, so you can follow the most relevant audience. At this stage, don’t worry too much about who is following you, as this will build up in good time. It is also important to take it slowly when following people, as you could be penalised if you follow too many at the one time.

3. Useful content

The best way to gain followers is to ensure you post regular and useful content on your Twitter page, while making use of relevant hashtags. Many business owners don’t have the time or resources to do this every day, so in this case, it is best to look at professional social media marketing assistance. The content you post should be relevant to your business and it should not just be self-promoting. Some ideas for content include your blog posts, podcasts, any interesting news about your business and articles relevant to your business. You should aim to tweet on a daily basis, although two to three times is far more effective. It can be tempting to tweet more than this, but this can become annoying to your followers, especially if you are constantly self-promoting. You should make use of images too, as these are well known to attract followers.

4. Interact

It is simply not enough to just follow people and post content, you also need to interact with your audience. This can be a really useful way to gain followers and attract business. If you receive messages or comments, make sure you respond to these. If you find anything interesting, always retweet it as it makes it look less like you are just using Twitter for the good of your own business. You should aim to help others with their business too and this can be achieved through retweeting. If you help others, they will help you.

5. Ask the audience

There is always something new to learn when you run a business, so don’t be afraid to ask your followers some questions. This can be a good way to develop relationships and it will also help you to improve your knowledge and understanding. You may be able to find out about useful networking in your local area and find out what others are doing to promote their business, simply by asking questions.