Is IS Online Chatter Just Noise?: An Analysis of the Islamic State Strategic Communications

The objective of this research is to analyze the potential use of strategic communication, and specifically, strategic brand management and online communications directed to a foreign target by the Islamic State (IS). For this purpose, a review of official the IS online media releases was carried out to determine if they reflect characteristics, components, or tools of strategic communication. In this pursuit, a content analysis of a purposive sample of 381 events—photographs, infographics, English written content, and videos—were applied using two independent judges. Statistically relevant results substantiate claims that the IS uses communication strategies and tactics. Descriptive and inferential statistics point out that Delegitimize Opponents, Utopia-Religion, and Military are the three most commonly used themes, in line with the reported IS identity. Also the IS uses breadth of contents, targets, media outlets, and formats, showing content and social media communications such as in online communication. As far as the authors are aware, it is the first content analysis from a strategic communication perspective used to interpret potential branding by the IS. This study is timely, important and lends credibility to the use of communication and marketing terminology by terrorist experts, as well as bridging brand management and strategic communication and terrorism identifying potential targets, messages, channels and tools for counter arguing and positioning.

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Tags: IS, Islamic StateSocial Media