Empowering ISIS Opponents on Twitter

photo: dailydot.com

A new RAND Corporation report draws on earlier RAND research on how to leverage social-media influencers and tailor messages to design a data-driven, actionable strategy to counter ISIS on Twitter. 

In the previous analysis of more than 23 million tweets from more than 770,000 different user accounts from July 2014 through May 2015, the authors — Todd Helmus and Elizabeth Bodine-Baron — found that ISIS opponents outnumber supporters six to one, with that ratio growing to 30 to one toward the end of May 2015.

Helmus and Bodine-Baron draw on lessons from influencer marketing campaigns such as those used by such marquee brands as SAP, Fiskars, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. They argue that such an approach can be used to help expand the influence of ISIS opponents in Twitter. They also highlight ways that U.S. and partner governments can more effectively implement top-down messaging to counter ISIS support on Twitter. 

The approaches for using Twitter should ultimately be tied to an overarching campaign that seeks to undermine terrorism, the report finds.

Key Findings

While social media is still relatively new, many of the best practices for using it are based on well-understood marketing approaches

— The first, and perhaps most important, lesson is that a social media campaign must be part of a broader marketing strategy, whether to sell more shoes of a particular brand or to convince at-risk populations not to engage in violent extremist behavior.

— The recommended approaches for using Twitter must ultimately be tied into an overarching campaign that seeks to undermine extremism.

A bottom-down messaging strategy using influencers in the Arab world can be effective

— Because the U.S. government is unlikely a credible messenger among the populations that are most at risk of radicalization and recruitment, working with influential Twitter users can help create authentic counter-ISIS messaging.

Tailoring top-down messaging by targeting specific themes to different communities also helps facilitate the social conversation

— The messages provide distinct content that resonates with the issues that various communities face.

— Using data-driven market segmentation and analysis, organizations can listen to and learn from the existing ISIS opposition to create more effective countermessages.

Recommendations

— The approaches for using Twitter must ultimately be tied to an overarching campaign that seeks to undermine extremism.

— Organizations can use data-driven market segmentation and analysis to listen to and learn from the existing ISIS opposition to create more effective countermessages.

— Countermessaging strategies and specific efforts should be analyzed to measure impact and modify approaches as needed.

— Read more in Todd Helmus and Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, Empowering ISIS Opponents on Twitter (RAND, 2017)

This article is published courtesy of Homeland Security News Wire

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