Corporations and Defensive Social Media Warfare Tactics

Corporations face social media warfare threats that other organizations do not necessarily face on the four battlefronts discussed in the previous section. There are many people and groups that oppose specific types of corporations or specific corporations because of what they do or do not do as a business entity. Genetically modified food is an example of what corporations are engaged in that many people around the world oppose.

This puts corporations in a uniquely perilous position and results in them having a unique perspective on social media warfare. Corporations are especially vulnerable to damaging slander and harassment social media campaigns, which most governments have little interest in addressing and which may not violate any national security laws.

Defensive social media warfare tactics, like offensive tactics, have long been a part of corporate arsenals. The most relevant tactics for defending a corporation are

  • ? Self-validation, or assuring the world of the validity and legitimacy of a position or action that a corporation or individual representative takes, is a common practice in virtually all conflict situations.
  • ? Influencing industry groups, or working to convince business partners of the validity and legitimacy of a position or action taken by a corporation or individual representative, goes one step beyond self-validation.
  • ? Reinforcing industry and business partners is the process of publicly and noticeably showing support for an ally’s position or action.
  • ? Persuasion of independent entities is the process of convincing non-allies of the validity and legitimacy of a position or action taken by an initiating entity and all the aligned entities involved in a position or action.
  • ? Recruiting and indoctrination involve the process of aligning new companies, special interest groups, or individuals with a company’s social media warfare cause.
  • ? Relationship building is the process of establishing and nurturing cooperative efforts with companies or groups that share an interest in the same business sector or who can benefit from a company’s actions.
  • ? Nullifying opponents is the process of discrediting opponents in the eyes of industry groups or business partners or non-partners that a company is attempting to influence.

Different defensive social media warfare tactics are more effective with different target audiences. Some tactics will work with multiple audiences but may require an alternative message or content in social media. Defensive social media warfare tactics and their target audiences are shown in Table 4.1. The target audiences for defensive social media warfare tactics in corporate environments are shown in the far-left column of Table 4.1 and include corporate leaders, stock holders, and the overall industry sector of which a company is a member as the primary target audience for self-validation tactics. Local lawmakers, regulators, adversarial organizations, and customers are the primary targets for influencing, reinforcing, and relationship building tactics. All audiences are targets for recruitment and indoctrination tactics and persuasion of aligned and non-aligned organizations or

Table 4.1 Defensive Social Media Tactics in Corporate Environments

Target Audience

Applied Social Media Warfare Tactics




Recruiting and indoctrination into



Stock holders

corporate goals Persuasion of aligned

Industry sector

and non-aligned entities










Corporate Efforts to Deploy or Respond to Social Media ? 83

companies. The tactic of nullifying an opponent helps builds relationships with other organizations or it eliminates an opponent from the battlefield.

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