Misleading Content – Its Impact on Consumers and Businesses

Whether it is a video title that you see on Facebook while scrolling through your feed or a headline of an article that doesn’t live up to its expectations when you start reading it, we have all come across misleading content when searching the web.

There are plenty of articles and blog posts that discuss different aspects of Content Marketing. Many of them focus on the do’s and don’ts, content strategy, tips to get your content right and the list goes on.

However, not many articles will discuss misleading content and how it can affect your business in ways you may not have considered.

We’re here to give you some tips on how to look out for misleading content.

Now, what exactly is misleading content?

Misleading content is deceptive information that makes you take an action – whether it is clicking a link you saw online or buying a product you thought would fulfil your expectations and needs.

It is a piece of content that could be manipulative in nature, intentionally or unintentionally.

There is a lot at stake when producing quality content. The type of content you produce heavily affects your credibility and reputation and can often come with its fair share of drawbacks.

Let’s look at this from four different perspectives:


According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), it is illegal to make claims on any form of advertising that is likely to deceive consumers or create false impressions. This could either be offline ads or digital content.

Making claims that cannot be fulfilled or false information is considered as a misrepresentation of your product or service. For instance, Brand X was sued in 2018 for falsely claiming to have certain nutrients in its product. They were then fined for a misleading health claim.

Talking about misrepresentation, it comes in many forms, one of the most common ones being deceptive statistics.

Here is one such example of misleading statistics used in print and digital media:

misleading graph

It wouldn’t take too long to notice that this graph is upside down, thus portraying the data incorrectly.

However, it is also important to note that there lies a difference in false claims & puffery. Puffery is a simple exaggeration of statements or claims that cannot be verified. For example, ‘this restaurant serves the best pizza in the world’.

watch advertisement

Such statements cannot be verified to be true or not.

Intentionally misleading the audience to make profits is something that can lead to legal implications.

Ethical & Moral

Headlines are supposed to be catchy to draw attention. True. However what if they are misleading just to get extra clicks? Is it the right thing to do?

A few examples of unethical content includes ad copies or online content that target certain groups of the society, offensive language, wrong references and so on.

While there is nothing such as absolutely right in the subject of ethics, whether your actions are ethical or unethical, can often boil down to your intrinsic values and internal beliefs.

While this is a debatable topic, it is necessary to not follow manipulative practices for profits.

However, it is also vital to understand that there’s a fine line between being ethical and being legal. What may be legal may not be ethical!

Marketer Perspective

As marketers, it’s important to be mindful about the content strategy that is being used. They should ensure that they communicate the right and relevant information to their audiences.

As communication experts, it is the advertisers’/ marketers’ responsibility to ensure all the information provided to the audience is authentic, credible and truthful.

What can Marketers do to encourage this practice?

  • Avoid wrong practices such as excessive keyword stuffing for a better SEO ranking, use of too much imagery on blogs, etc.
  • Research from high authority sites
  • Follow the recency policy – ensure all the statistics used are up to date
  • Content should be relevant to the business and must target the right audience

Consumer Perspective

While consumers are the heart of any marketing activity, all they need is a piece of content that is helpful to them and adds value to their needs.

When exposed to content that is deceptive, consumers will not only lose interest in your business but will also lose your trust and credibility over a period of time.

What can consumers do when they encounter deceptive content?

  • Report it immediately
  • Cross verify the source that produces the content
  • Be vigilant before believing false claims on products or services offered and anything that they see online
  • File an official complaint

Content marketing is a great strategy, especially for long term goals. It is used to create brand awareness, educate people, forms a huge part of SEO and needs to be given enough time to show great results.

As an agency, it is vital to understand the importance of high-quality and ethical content.

High-quality content involves a precise way of communicating the right information, is genuine, does not manipulate the audience, is relevant to the target market and is consistent with time.

We at Swoop Digital firmly believe at curating such high-quality content and delivering campaigns with desired results.

Feel free to contact us today on 1300 858 839 to discuss your content marketing strategy.