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Nip It in the FUD: Using Narrative Intelligence to Combat Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

Like it or not, anxiety controls the market place. It causes companies to make cuts, investors to dump stocks, and consumers to stop spending. Never mind that it often has no basis in reality. Worry is a powerful motivator, and it creates all kinds of reluctance across the economic spectrum.

Anxiety in the business sector can take many forms, but one of the most insidious and destructive is that of FUD. In case you aren’t familiar with it, FUD is an acronym meaning fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Unlike other kinds of anxiety, FUD is intentionally created and targeted at consumers. Brands use it to influence buyer behavior the same way political parties use talking points to shape public opinion.

Now you might be thinking FUD requires some kind of sophisticated methodology to achieve its ends. Far from it. In fact, FUD is so widespread and commonplace that we hardly even notice it anymore. Think about those TV commercials where Brand A says it’s faster-acting and more effective than Brand B. That’s FUD. Or try to remember the last time you bought a vehicle, and the salesperson told you the autos sold there were safer or got more mileage than the model you drove onto the lot. FUD again. And what about all those billboards telling you one cellular provider has a much larger coverage network than its competitors? Yep, FUD.

Sometimes FUD can be put to work against an entire industry. You’ve probably seen at least one article warning that SIRI and Alexa can monitor personal conversations and use them against the people involved. Privacy advocates may be well intentioned when they point this out. But there’s no denying that their criticisms also undermine the burgeoning digital assistant industry.

And if you’ve got a product or service you sell, chances are your competitors are using FUD tactics against you as well. Why? For the simple reason that they want to take business from you. Chances are even good that you, too, have used FUD in your own sales pitch, maybe without even realizing it.

Creating FUD doesn’t necessarily make you a bad business person, either. Anyone with a superior product would be foolish not to emphasize it. And when a competing brand has known safety or security holes, you’re almost ethically obliged to point those out as well, if for no other reason than to prevent customers from making a decision they’ll regret later on.

So even while FUD isn’t necessarily evil, there’s no denying that it can be damaging, especially when it’s used unethically. Because, yes, brands do sometimes lie about their competitors. And this reality, of course, begs an obvious question: How do you protect yourself against FUD campaigns that have been launched against you?

The short answer is that you have to be proactive about it. You cannot wait to hear something negative come filtering through the grapevine. By that time it will be too late. It will have gone viral, and greater numbers of people will have seen defamatory claims about your brand. In order to gain control of FUD, then, you have to kill it as early as possible. You have to nip it in the FUD, so to speak.

But who has time to go monitoring every online publication and social media platform? The outlets for creating and pushing FUD are now more numerous than ever. Indeed, it would be impossible to assemble a rapid response team for that without spending untold millions in the process.

But that’s where EdgeTheory’s Kudzu gives you a leg up. Conversation moves markets. News coverage, social media, and online forums feed off each other to create trends that can have massive impacts on companies, stocks, and investors. Whether it's competitors, foreign adversaries, or homegrown agitators, conversation can mean the difference between failure and success.

Kudzu monitors and analyzes tens of thousands of news articles and online conversations every day, as well as the people and organizations who create them. It can show you how narratives are started, who's amplifying them, and how they evolve to affect the things in which you're invested: Your company, your portfolio, your people, and your government. 

The Kudzu platform utilizes large-scale consumption of publicly-available information (PAI) and sophisticated data analysis algorithms to extract narrative intelligence and conversation trends from traditional news organizations, social media outlets, video publishing platforms, and other digital sources, then atomizes those sources to detect and visualize narrative amplification patterns and behavior among entities of all types. As a result, the platform acts as a force multiplier for analysts, who can see connections and patterns earlier, on larger scales, and on deeper levels than they could previously.

Kudzu provides the ability to group entities by national origin, sphere of influence, political or factional affiliation, industry, or any other organizational unit, in order to better determine the origin and evolution of narrative amplification campaigns. It also provides extensive data export functionality in order to allow for use in other data-processing and analytics applications. And Kudzu doesn't only provide the analysis and data to understand a conversation. Our narrative intelligence also delivers the content and messaging needed to counter FUD at scale. 

Combating FUD isn’t the only advantage Kudzu offers businesses, but it’s easily one of the most important. Kudzu’s easy to use, too. It’s a simple web-based interface, so there’s nothing to download or install. You almost owe it to yourself to give it a trial spin and see what it can do for your brand. That can be easily arranged, as well. To request a free demo, drop by and visit us.

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