Halloween has its fair share of tricks and treats, but not all tricks are fun and games. Have you fallen for one of those Facebook hoaxes? How about retweeting a headline that later proved false? Misinformation on social media can be just as scary as your next door neighbor dressed up as Freddy Krueger! So beware...
At times, it seems that nearly half of the information we see online could be labeled "questionable". When it comes to your advocacy and health awareness efforts, it's important to know what to do if any of this misinformation works against your message. Take a look at these tips for how to manage the spread of misinformation:
Remember: fear travels fast. Messages with claims or statistics that have a shock factor inevitably travel quickly through the webs of social media. They mislead even the most educated audiences with their scare tactics. Consider the panic and upset that unfolded in the uncertainty surrounding the first diagnosis of Ebola in the U.S. Counter these messages by providing a calm, steady and educated voice to the conversation.
Beat the clock. When it comes to taking advantage of the news cycle, it's all about timing. Misinformation takes hold of your audience in a void of information, so the earlier you can get your carefully-worded message into the online discussion, the better. People tend to believe information that they see multiple times, so make sure your content gets shared!
A picture's worth a thousand words. Don't shy away from answering your critics with positive information about your cause, especially with visuals that back up your story and provide greater context. They're more likely to get attention and get shared more often by your audience.
Keep your finger on the pulse. Monitor the conversation by browsing relevant hashtags and social media accounts daily. Modify your social media strategy accordingly to combat the latest spin on the truth. Not every organization needs a crisis communications team or a war room set-up, but awareness of what happens online will put you one step ahead of others.
Don't let the scary stories of misinformation hold you back from taking advantage of all the benefits of social media. Following these tips will help you keep the facts straight for your audience during a potential crisis. For more ideas on how to manage your social media channels, check out the resources at the Digital Advocacy Institute.