Strengthen Your Position to Weaken Disinformation

Article 5 min
Explore some tools and nine social media tactics—such as having a Unique Value Proposition, being proactive, building trust, having and promoting media literacy, partaking in the economy of sharing, fostering conversation, forming emotion and being engaging—designed to strengthen your position and build resilience to false information on the web before it's even released.

Disinformation and misinformation are types of false information that cause harm to the information environment. Disinformation is false information known to be false when shared, while misinformation is spreading false information that is thought to be true by the communicator. Misinformation is often the result of individuals being fooled by disinformation and then mistakenly passing it on, believing it's true.

Numerous disinformation actors are spreading false narratives in the information environment. These agents are counting on people to swarm around and amplify their false narrative with little-to-no additional influence.

There are ways to alleviate this risk, without having to extensively battle a seemingly-endless army of individual disinformation agents. The RAND Corporation offers a list of tools designed to help you identify and fight disinformation online. You should also watch the Trilateral Commission's video on YouTube about the importance of telling a story when countering false information.

Explore the following nine social media tactics that will help you foster your presence and proactively disarm false information.

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Social Media Tactics

Tactic 1Have a UVP

Your Unique Value Proposition is a statement that defines why you are on a social media platform, and what sets you apart from similar pages. Social media is not an informational platform alone; it is an action-based platform used to create outcomes. Your UVP should help you understand what you want your audience to do with the information you give them.

  1. Start with the intersection of what you do well on the platform and what your audience cares about.
  2. Then add in what makes you unique on that platform.

Your UVP is the core of your social media presence and identity. Having a strong UVP helps your audience discern disinformation from your authentic info. When they get used to your particular type of engagement, post, voice, tone, etc., they can identify disinformation more quickly as not being authentic, because it is different and "seems off." If you don't have one yet, see some examples and learn how to create your own UVP.

Tactic 2Be Proactive

Whenever possible, get your message out first. This is especially true in the case of an incident or event. If you don't get your messaging out, disinformation and misinformation is likely to fill the void.

If you wait too long, you will be on the defensive, forced to counter false narratives. Proactively addressing the situation first forces the disinformation actors into a more difficult responsive role.

You can also be proactive by addressing false information that hasn't come your way yet:

  1. Scan other platforms where you don't have a presence but might find false information starting to grow.
  2. Debunk it on the platforms where you do have a presence before it takes root.

Just be thorough to not leave doubt and lend additional credence to its possible authenticity.

Tactic 3Build Trust

You want to be the trusted source of information. Be honest and straightforward.

You also have to engender trust among your audience:

  • Make them feel like you are invested in them so they will invest in you.
  • Individually consider comments and engage with them.
  • Treat your followers like partners and valued contributors on your platform.

It is far harder for disinformation and misinformation contrary to your message to spread when you are a trusted source.

Tactic 4Be Media Literate

Be aware of what is true and false in the media. Be skeptical. Make sure you are not buying into disinformation and misinformation. Know the tricks in spotting disinformation actors.

Make sure your team and people in your organization have good media literacy, too:

Tactic 5Educate

Educate your audience. Teach them to have good media literacy. Post content about it.

When you see disinformation and misinformation, debunk it. But be sure to debunk it in a way that:

  • Shows people exactly how it is false.
  • Shows how others may have been tricked.

This increases media literacy in your users and makes them feel empowered when they spot false information in the future so they can debunk it themselves.

Tactic 6Share

Take part in the economy of sharing. Your organization doesn't exist in a vacuum. Others are putting out information that you can amplify, add to and discuss. Be a part of the conversation in general.

Like any economy, the sharing economy thrives with participation and investment.

  • Take part in that network of giving and taking.
  • Support others by sharing their content and they will share yours.

This raises the content value, adds to your trust capital and grows your reach.

The further your trusted truthful message goes, the less room exists for disinformation and misinformation.

Tactic 7Foster Conversation

Build conversations on your social media platforms. Don't just post and go.

  • Answer questions.
  • Ask questions.
  • Make it a two-way street.

Trolls like to hijack a topic and shift the narrative. Defend your narrative by fostering meaningful conversations. While you are conversing with other users, trolls have usually moved on. They don't have time for actual reasoned conversation with you or other users.

Bots cannot stay and engage with you because they’re saturating the environment. If they do stay on, they drive users to your account through the platforms' engagement algorithms, while you still drive the conversation.

The security risks are too great for you to enter some of the newer platforms like TikTok, which is not approved for DoD use. Spend time fostering conversations on the platforms you can officially utilize.

Tactic 8Form Emotion

Disinformation agents often use messages that promote negative emotions like fear and anger to encourage people to spread their message without thinking. You should develop messaging that generates emotion, too.

  • You want to spark meaningful and positive emotions so people stay engaged with your accounts.
  • Making people feel good and positive builds a connection.

If you can establish a meaningful connection with your audiences, and they feel you care about them, that will shape a positive space for them online. This also goes a long way in building trust.

Tactic 9Be Engaging

It is imperative that users want to read your content. In order to meet that end, it has to be dynamic and engaging.

Your content has to be entertaining as well as informative. Do not just share a dry PowerPoint presentation. You can optimize existing content developed for more traditional platforms into dynamic, engaging content that fits within the platform of choice. For example, you may be able to repurpose b-roll of an event by cropping it to a 9x16 aspect ratio and sharing it as a YouTube Short or Instagram Reel. Find a way to tell a story.

Memes can be very effective in this regard. They are dynamic and easy to produce quickly. They keep the message punchy and quick.

Mix things up with videos, memes, graphics and photos. Keep it fresh. Most importantly, remember that your content needs to resonate with your audience.

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