ISIS– Art of Terror Social Media Marketing– Change Society by Intimidation and Creative Propaganda: Rivals Madison Ave’s Best…

ISIS terror group are a savvy bunch, especially when it comes to using social media marketing they deploy creative marketing techniques that rival the sophistication of corporate branding and the best of Madison Ave’s P.R. campaigns to create haunting visuals and intimidating messaging… ISIS mixes new-social media savvy with medieval savagery: It’s a diabolical marketing strategy; methods that future terror groups will surely copycat. 

According to Soufan Group; like many disruptive entries into marketplaces, the ISIS ‘product’ (i.e., declaration of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq) was sneered by most of the world ‘establishment’, saying; ISIS is just another terror group, and there is nothing to fear… But, the ‘establishment’ was never the target audience; ISIS leaders are using social media marketing to send videos and messaging that will influence and recruit young potential extremists… their message is simply– ISIS is a revolutionary ideology and devout fighting force that is looking to massively disrupt the old social order (the ‘establishment’)…

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According to Jim Armitage; you can see the equivalents in the corporate world: the holy grail for many advertisers is to find ways of connecting to the next generation of young adults… To hammer that point home, see how ISIS is promoting the profiles of its teenage recruits, clearly encouraging them to publicize the outfit’s brand through their Facebook accounts and other social media, using the marketing techniques of media monitoring… with the savvy use of hashtags and clever, even if warped, videos making Twitter and other social media the perfect tools for the ISIS product… All great communicators from every age has understood how to use the tools of the time to their best advantage and to drive them with emotion and simplicity. These new media terrorists understand the impact of visual meme and how that feeds the global newswires to engage and shock the masses.

ISIS knows how to pierce the imagination and conscience to recruit, create fear… and they are engaging mostly young people who have grown-up in a disruptive technology age, and who are gaming crosses the reality divide and looking to grab headlines to affect people’s lives… These propagandists know exactly how to tell a story and leverage it at maximum speed across social channels, disrupting the well-oiled Western propaganda machines… Make no mistake this is a propaganda war and those that understand and know how to affect ’emotion’ will win. From very beginning ISIS understood the culture it wanted to attack and undermine… they understand that it’s vital to create high ’emotion’ among the masses in order to exercise social change… apparently the strategy is working, so far…

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In the article Making of the World’s Scariest Terrorist Brand by Marshall Sella writes: The James Foley video is impossible to watch with any degree of detachment… The first thing that draws your eye, naturally, is Foley’s prison-orange jumpsuit, and the perfect black of his captor’s own fitted clothing, including the perfect black balaclava that, in civilized society, long ago stopped being a ‘ski mask’.

Almost immediately, British press dubbed this man ‘Jihadi John’. As he speaks in what seems to be an English accent; John looms tall over the journalist. His height is accentuated by the fact that we don’t immediately see Foley’s knees, so there is the momentary illusion that John is some sort of giant… John’s hands rest at his side; his stance is wide. He is calm and mostly still. He appears to be left-handed, holding a small blade. There are leather straps slung over each shoulder, and the exact purpose unknown. His head is cocked at a 9-degree angle, to convey defiance and contempt… Foley reads his lines clearly, in an almost lilting cadence…

This is theater; and there is no way of knowing how many takes this film required –  or what mind-bending threats were quietly mentioned to the actor in order to help realize the auteur vision… All this while, at the upper left corner of the screen, we see the ISIS flag. The now-familiar square black-and-white banner, which has its origins in the eighth century…

Yet, for the first time, on the videos, we see that the banner logo is ‘waving’; it’s animated… That seems like a small thing, but this is no amateurish video– ISIS used three cameras as in a television drama… The color scheme in the Jihadi John videos is no small matter; that shade of orange in modern usage is often connected with the notion of ‘safety’, and it’s mainly prized for its ease of visibility.

The color orange is symbolic in many culture, e.g.; Buddhists associate orange with enlightenment; in the 21st-century West it’s the color of traffic cones, life jackets, even the airliners ‘black box’… its symbolism is used to ward off danger. And, ISIS is using the color orange to declare the ‘end of safety’, to usher in a new authority on what is visible and what is not. They’re are obliterating a modern color on their quest to restore many of the ancient ones…

According to Steven Heller; the use of symbols is not new, e.g.; Hitler used the swastika, Mussolini the black shirts… and when it comes to ISIS, there is less accident than meets the eye… now if you call yourself a ‘state’, or a terrorist organization, then this is what you do: ISIS knows and understands symbolism, e.g.; it dresses its people in black, and includes their flag in the video… They are astute social media marketing people, and they certainly are not idiots…

ISIS has reached marketing maturity, for example; the militants’ media portfolio  with  its slickly designed magazine ‘Dabiq’, the grim John Cantlie show… all of it  represents their messaging strategy in full: On one side of it, there’s the recruiting effort, beseeching life’s losers in the East and the West to come and be welcomed, to be a part of something. On other side, the message to those who will not join the cause is: We are going to destroy you, but first we will utterly defile you...

Terrorists have co-opted the social media marketing methods of the relatively innocent world of consumerism in order to pitch barbarism… But even if ISIS is scoured from the face of the Earth, no future terrorist group will forget its media… its innovations in branding, social media marketing will live on… but only imprinted with different logos, different actors… After all, it’s just an ad campaign, a bloody ad campaign, and people are buying it…

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In the article ISIS: Social Media Marketing and Murder by anonymous writes: ISIS videos are subtitled, captioned, edited… they are slick in a perverse way… Their team of experts work hard to publish their propaganda– they have a good knowledge and understanding of social media marketing… they have created their own ‘app’, which users of Twitter could download… and the ‘app’ sent out pre-packaged content from ISIS’ information headquarters on behalf of all the individual’s user accounts, and the ‘app’ spaced out tweets, in time, to avoid Twitter spam scrutiny… However eventually, Twitter did shut down the account of the author of the app and Google removed it from the store, but not before 40,000 tweets were sent out on the ominous day that ISIS marched on Mosul…

According to J.M. Berger; one of ISIS’s more successful ventures is an Arabic-language Twitter app called ‘Fajr al-Bashaer’ or ‘Dawn of Good Tidings’, or just Dawn. The app, an official ISIS product promoted by its top users, is advertised as a way to keep up on the latest news about the Jihadi group… ISIS also uses hashtags to focus group messaging and branding concepts, much like a Western corporation might…

ISIS appears to be getting anonymous photos supporting the caliphate– replete with drawings of their flag photographed against famous cultural backdrops worldwide– to bolster their social media marketing campaign, but it’s unclear just how much recruitment is successfully through online engagement. But they continue to work on ‘branding’ their particular goals and messages, unabated. They have a propaganda unit, the ‘Al Hayat Media Centre’, which produces high-production videos and a magazine…

According to Robert D. Kaplan; terrorism is theater and by choosing decapitation as the method for killing journalist and others… ISIS was ‘right on pushing the Internet social network button’, they chose the best method using a visually dramatic and brutal video… showing passion, deep belief, political protests… However, these dramatic visual effects have little meaning or effect on a large number of people, if they cannot be widely communicated through some commonly used broadcast media… and that’s where the Internet and social media marketing is ideal.

According to Andrew McKillop; Isn’t it interesting how Facebook bots will censor certain political posts, or how your page can be pulled down for a remark someone behind the communitarian curtain claims is ‘offensive’, while Jihadist and ISIS terror gangs are allowed to openly use same social media platforms  like; Twitter and Facebook for recruitment, ‘martyr selfies’, marketing, T-Shirt sales, and to post murder photos? According to Kaplan; we are back to a medieval world of morals and of medieval ritual theater, but in which the audience is now global… Any kind of theater needs trained and rehearsed actors, and the Internet and social media is providing the stage…

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According to Alice Speri; ISIS strength lies in the recognition of its brand, reach of its network, and its capacity to boost its Twitter presence through a combination of carefully crafted ‘official’ messages, as well as the buzz and volume of fans sharing content across the globe… And, whether or not their social media presence is exactly reflective of their numbers and power, ISIS have commandeered a great deal of online space…

There are different types of ISIS divisions on social media: the ISIS official media account, which publishes all its video releases, ISIS province accounts, which publish live feed info and pictures, the ISIS mujahideen accounts, where fighters talk about their experience and daily life, and ISIS supporters who according to them counter Western, Shia… propaganda and lies…

According to Abu Bakr al Janabi; social media marketing is good for building a network of connections and recruitment… for example; fighters talk about their experiences in battle, it encourage people to rise-up, and it encouraging supporters to defend, translate ISIS messages and ideology. ISIS controls their ‘central’ messaging using social media marketing with diversity of voices… all of  which seems to be working, at least for now…