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3 Election 2020 Narratives That Could Impact Your Brand

Oct 8, 2020

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Yonder has been tracking 20+ emerging and trending election 2020 narratives to help communications and policy teams know which groups are impacting the issues your brand cares most about. 

Here are three we think you should tune into. Each one has been showing signs of inauthenticity and is being driven by fringe online factions with the proven ability to push their agendas and ideas to the mainstream through posts and stories that go viral. 

These are the kinds of narratives we see brands getting sideswiped by most often, because they seem to come out of nowhere and they have a way of spreading quickly — 10x faster in times of crisis (i.e. today).

Other topics we are currently tracking for customers include:

  1. Face mask policies
  2. Policies for employees wearing campaign merchandise
  3. Current/former executives with political affiliations

Elections cycles are one of the most fertile breeding grounds for agenda-driven narratives and misinformation. What social media incidents can brands expect around Election Day 2020? Tune into our webinar to learn how you can prepare for election-related online chatter that has the potential to blow up and impact your brand or its operations.

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Mail-In Ballots

Back in August, we were watching how conversations online about voting by mail were a bit scattered with different agenda-driven groups competing for attention. Some (on the left) were accusing the President of “weaponizing” the postal service, others (on the right) alleged democrats were planning to overwhelm the voting system, but for the most part, the general public was confused about mail-in ballot logistics. 

Today, groups like QAnon known for spreading conspiracies are the top factions in the conversation. Their narratives are in support of the President’s claim about postal ballots leading to voter fraud, and many mention the USPS prominently to try to put into question the reliability of their service.

As Election Day draws near, brands should note that “discourse about voter fraud and other voting-related anxieties is finding a huge audience across the political spectrum.”

Brands should tune into the sensitivities in this narrative if they are planning on giving employees a day off to vote on November 3rd, if they are encouraging employees or the public to serve as poll workers, if they are located near a mail-in ballot drop off box, if they are located near a voting center. If the election is undecided, how will chatter about the results play out in store or with team members working remotely?

Ask yourself and your team how decisions and/or policies on the above impacts your employees, customers, executives, and other stakeholders including allies and adversaries online. What can you do to add clarity?

Labor in China

Top narratives in this conversation stem from comments from the office of the Secretary of State saying that the U.S. will be banning products believed to be made by Uyghur Chinese labor groups, sometimes calling out specific companies. 

The Hong Kong Anti-Chinese Protesters faction, a very highly coordinated group with the proven strength to originate news and push it to the mainstream, continues to be engaged in this conversation. U.S. businesses that not only leverage Chinese-based labor, but those that do business in or with the country, should be watching this closely as their brands…and brand spokespeople…are at risk of being brought into the discussion.

COVID-19 Vaccine Development

This conversation is trending slightly more inauthentic as fringe trolls and conspiracy-minded factions discuss the likelihood of a vaccine being available soon and the way it will be taken to market. Some top-trending narratives here are speculative of specific pharmaceutical companies, as well as the healthcare leaders who have been at the forefront of the public pandemic conversations. The Populist Right faction, which has been driving most of the conversation, has often shared an article titled “PAINE: Dr. Fauci, Bill & Melinda Gates, CDC’s Redfield & Big Pharma Execs Should Take Rushed COVID Vaccine FIRST to See if It’s Safe.” The article originated from True Pundit, which is a niche, far-right media outlet that has been known to spread conspiracy theories, particularly during the pandemic. 

As the promise of a vaccine continues to be the focus of conversations online, we’re keeping an eye on factions including anti-vaxxers, which have previously spread rumors about the effectiveness of hypothetical alternative COVID-19 treatments, including Vitamin C. Brands should tune in given that the vaccine delivery timeline and process will affect consumers, businesses and international markets overall.

Even if your company is not directly involved with the development or distribution of a COID-19 vaccine, companies offering health insurance and other benefits to employees may have to deal with speculation on this topic. Can that speculation impact your stakeholders and your own brand reputation? How can you prepare for that and make plans to add clarity?

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