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What is a Faction: Examples and How to Identify Them

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False news travels fast. On Twitter alone, false stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories.

Your brand may spend time, brainpower, and a lot of money carefully crafting your well-balanced image just to have it side-swiped by mystery internet people. They’ve hijacked your brand and pulled you into an aggressive culture war apparently overnight – perhaps about a topic that has absolutely nothing to do with you. Well, until now.

You were using what you thought were the most up-to-date social media analytics, tracking mentions and engagement, evaluating demographics. You were doing everything you knew to protect your brand against internet trolls, so what happened?  

Likely, you didn’t take factions into account.

What is a Faction?

Factions are the primary driver of ideas that propagate across our modern information ecosystem. More simply, a faction is a group of online accounts that are organized, hyper-focused, and highly active around a shared ideology, idea or topic. Factions are more than just special interest groups as they are fiercely motivated to spread their message, very organized, and tend to be the leaders/trend-setters/go-to information sources for interested hobbyists and advocacy groups. Factions are so driven, they are willing to engage in tactics that the average person would not (mobilizing bots, creating multiple alternate accounts, etc.). Your crazy uncle might be sharing a lot of memes, but it’s the factions he’s got his eyes on that are designing those memes by the thousands, focusing his attention, exerting their influence, and therefore driving the narrative. And factions are rewarded by the basic structure of the internet (and our human nature) that gives more attention to hyperbole, outrage, and shock than it does to the simple, moderated, boring old truth – TIMES TEN.

Why Should Your Brand Care About Factions?

If your brand ignores factions, you’re ignoring the reason why a narrative is spreading about you. Most types of factions have very well-known ideologies. If you know the factions who are targeting you, by extension you know their motives, their likely next moves, and have leverage to address the root cause of their attack. You’re probably not going to get a faction to agree with your ideology, but you can get ahead of their intended narrative before it spreads to the other factions they influence, and then out into the mainstream. When you pay attention to factions, you gain clear targets on the people you need to reach, knowledge to build a plan, and time to craft a tailored strategy.

Faction-Finding is Forever

Factions aren’t static. They shift as news occurs, as new information is created, and as culture sways. They’re dynamic and can often converge, collapse into larger groups, settle or reactivate, become more niche and split away, jump platforms, grow a new extension and spread again, and so on. For example, you’ve likely heard of the Anti-Vaxx faction, right? But more recently, a new, specific Anti-Covid-Vaxx faction has formed that behaves differently and exerts influence on a whole new subset of hobbyists. More examples of factions include QAnon, Antifa, WallStreetBets, the Populist Right, Hong Kong Anti-China Protestors, and more. Yonder is constantly monitoring the tactics and behavior of these groups, recategorizing and reassociating them as they shift, and validating the ever-evolving faction landscape.

How Does Yonder Track Factions?

Traditional social listening tools are focused on looking for volume of mentions or engagement…great for monitoring campaigns and promotional hashtags. But a complete analytical toolkit requires new indicators that track behavior, coordination, and narratives…capabilities that connect the dots between what might seem like noisy disparate posts and accounts. To do this, Yonder searches and monitors data like account bios, hashtags, and common phrases associated with factions. Then we analyze network connectivity, listening to that shared language from the most powerful factions, and determine what harmful narratives may be headed towards our clients. It’s a whole new way of understanding the internet and how narratives are spread.  

Those outrageous, attention-grabbing, fake narratives may move at ten-times speed, but Yonder helps your brand stay ahead.

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