Social warfare – the use of social media to gain strategic advantage on and off the battlefield – has changed the nature of conflict, particularly in current hot spots such as Syria and Iraq.
That’s the message from Nicole Matejic, chief executive of Info Ops HQ.
Founded in 2014, Info Ops HQ is billed as a civil-military "think-do tank" that operates in the social media, public diplomacy and information areas, with the aim of building "global" capability.
“I think that goes to more about the democratisation of information as a whole,” explained Matejic. “If you think back to the Al-Qaeda days; shaky handycams in a cave … [from] then technology has kind of matured to a point where they don't need to send that tape off via snail mail or a messenger to Al Jazeera or CNN, or anything like that.
“They can simply upload it. In essence they've cut the media out.
“They don't need the media, and we're in a situation now where the media kind of uses them more than they use the media, although we can get into semantics about terrorist attacks … and those kind of objectives.”
Matejic highlighted how one no longer needs to rely on any third party to pitch a story in a bid to try and get a journalist’s interest.
“It's kind of redundant at the moment,” Matejic said.
“Earned media certainly gives you a lot of credibility, but you necessarily don't need them. I mean, look at all the influencers on Instagram making a ton of money Instagramming pictures of themselves in bikinis with some brand of sunscreen, or sunglasses or whatever else.”
“So, there's a lot of sort of self-initiative and ability to grow your own brand attached to it,” she added, highlighting also that social media could be utilised for key benefits other than those pertaining to the military theatre.
“During epidemics like the Ebola crisis in Africa they used WhatsApp in the same sort of approach to get people to wash their hands and don't touch dead bodies, all that kind of health messaging,” Matejic said.
“[Whether it’s] blood drives, we need more of A+ or O- or whatever it is, stop smoking cigarettes (for instance), there are a lot of really good messaging that come out from a range of business and government stakeholders to point people in the right direction.”
To hear more from Matejic, tune in to our podcast here.