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How our fact-checking partners promote their WhatsApp tip lines

While ads are critical to building an audience, they have to be used strategically in order to maximize their impact for an organization’s fact-checking work while reducing unactionable content. Ultimately, we’ve learned that ads combined with a community engagement strategy yield the most impactful projects, balancing the needs of both scale and quality. Here are a few things we learned through previous ad campaigns:

  1. Images work well with ad campaigns. Keep images that are compelling, related to the campaign and have a strong recall. Colours, logos, symbols and branding should be consistent across each part of the campaign.

  2. Make sure the organization’s WhatsApp tipline number is prominently displayed, both in text that accompanies the ad and in the image itself so that people can catch the messaging.

  3. A focused call for action works well for ads and it’s always a good idea to follow the news cycle while designing tipline ad campaign. If an organization is focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be useful for them to specify what part of the pandemic-related misinformation can be verified - information related to vaccines, drugs, home remedies, lockdown related measures, new research, etc. Other significant news events such as elections, government announcements, and cyclones also result in more people sending queries to WhatsApp tiplines. Designing ads around these will guide WhatsApp users to send better and relevant submissions.

  4. Ads with shorter descriptions (between 100 and 250 characters) are likely to get more engagement than ones that are more than 250 characters. So it’s best to have less text in an ad.

  5. Multimedia ads work well on online platforms - fun GIFs, videos, engaging visuals and memes with some text are all easily shareable and communicate clearly with users.

  6. Cross promotion helps build community faster. Posting ads on multiple online platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, is also likely to direct audiences from these platforms to WhatsApp tiplines. Organizations should also consider using similar graphics on Twitter, on their website, newsletter and public Facebook page, and other channels to engage existing audiences.

  7. Consistency in presentation helps users recall a brand. It’s a good idea for an organization to make style, colour palette, logos and fonts consistent across all their assets. For example, the WhatsApp profile photo of an organization’s tipline should be the same as the organization’s profile photo on Facebook or other online platforms.

Here are examples of some ad campaigns launched by our partners in different regions:

AFP Checamos

The ad gives a focused call to WhatsApp users to send content related to the municipal election taking place in November 2020.

AFP Fact Check

AFP Fact Check’s ad gives a specific call to people to send suspicious content related to COVID-19 and India’s COVID-19 lockdown.

Africa Check

The ad reaches out to WhatsApp users in Kenya and asks them to send suspicious messages related to COVID-19 to the Africa Check tipline.

BOOM

Helping people make informed choices online.

Factly

The ad appeals to people to pause before forwarding messages on WhatsApp.

India Today

India Today’s ad alerts people about false knowledge being more dangerous than ignorance.

WebQoof

WebQoof calls on people to send unconvincing content to the WebQoof tipline for verification.

Vishvas News

The first series of ads were launched by Vishvas News around mid-August, in time with India’s independence day. The ads built on the theme of independence from fake news.

● Related

The Checklist–read misinformation news from around the world

The Weekly Roundup

—open-source investigations, industry resources and event information