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The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: The Social Media Front

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The largest conventional warfare operation in Europe since World War II – in the era of social media – will be uniquely shaped by cyberattacks, scams, social virality, misinformation and other dynamics.

Here are our preliminary observations to help you navigate this moment.

Bots Are Rampant. Our bot detection algorithm found that 60% of Twitter accounts have a medium to high probability of being bots – a strong indicator of intentional spread of misinformation. This finding underscores the importance of vetting any and all information flowing across feeds.

There are plenty of handles you can rely on, including journalists on the ground, reputable mastheads and others. Like any topic, looking at a variety of sources and viewpoints is important to build a well-rounded viewpoint. And look for the blue checkmark.

See below for the accounts we’re watching:

A Twitter List by UKRRUSList

Real World Impact. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emerged as a first-time war hero with his authentic selfie-style videos and defiant on-the-ground reporting. This heavy cadence of hope, courage, candor, and grit has led Zelenskyy to gain 630% more Twitter followers and Ukraine’s Twitter handle to gain 238% more Twitter followers from February 24th to February 28th.

Ukraine_Followers (1).png

Consider This. Here’s what we recommend brands should be thinking about when it comes to their own social media:

  • Do no harm. Rethink your reasoning for posting about the conflict. Is your messaging relevant and appropriate for the organization or brand to comment?

  • Mind your tone. If you do decide to post on social media, be sure the posts treat the conflict in Ukraine with the reverence and urgency it deserves.

  • Consider the source. Vet your sources - getting it right is crucial. Rely on verified (blue check) sources, verified journalists on the ground, and government officials with verified accounts to share developments.

  • Plan ahead and adapt. Have early conversations with vendors to help ensure a smoother process if changes are required.

  • Consider the shifting domestic political temperature. In this dynamic environment, commentary, especially on social media, may be more susceptible to ongoing polarized “culture wars”.

  • Press pause when needed. In certain situations, pausing or delaying paid advertising might be best. Consider saving your rollout for a more appropriate time when there is more geopolitical certainty.

  • Read the comments. Keep a close eye on the comments section of all posts across platforms in the coming weeks to better understand community sentiment and/or if your followers are demanding action.

    Break Through The Noise. Issues are no longer constrained by borders, and your Digital Strategists shouldn't be either. Our team spans the globe, providing an eagle-eye perspective and the capability to reach local communities and worldwide audiences alike. As seasoned journalists, campaign managers, data scientists and storytellers, we unite emotion and logic to shape the conversation and deliver results. Contact us for assistance studying the conversations and data surrounding your industry and your brand.

    Contact

    Craig James, Partner