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Mercenaries and Activists of Social Media Warfare

There has long been a place for mercenaries in warfare and social media warfare is no different than other types of warfare when it comes to the use of mercenaries. Social media warfare mercenaries and activists are a blend of techies, writers, and activists who can be employed or otherwise motivated to support or oppose a cause or an organization. This chapter examines the types of social media warfare mercenaries, how to hire them, and how to use their talents in social media warfare.

Types of Social Media Warfare Mercenaries

Mercenaries are a necessity for mounting any substantial social media warfare campaign. There are thousands of them available and most call themselves social media consultants, managers, or writers. When working in social media on behalf of their clients, they take on many different roles. They can be surrogates, supporters, friends, fans, imposters, antagonists, protagonists, advocates, or adversaries. Basically, social media warfare mercenaries can take on any role they need to in order to participate in social media events, conversations, and interactions. The difference between an effective social media warfare mercenary and a less effective one is how skillfully they play their role in social media—that is, how effectively they can pass themselves off as regular social media users.

There are many social media warfare roles, including the strategists who look at the big picture over a long term, the planners who design a specific campaign, and the operatives who execute plans. The social media warfare mercenary can be employed by any type of organization or individual that needs to be involved in social media. This includes governments, military organizations, corporations, special interest groups, political campaigns, celebrities, and law enforcement agencies. A mercenary can take on any role in social media warfare interactions, but it is important that they are convincing in that role. A teenage girl, for example, may find it difficult to play the role of a grandfather.

When needed, social media warfare mercenaries come with or create a personality: screen name or handle, a photo, a social or professional profile, an educational background, a job, hobbies, and family. This means that it can be very difficult to tell if a person visible in social media posts or content is real or contrived. The posts, comments, and Likes seen on different social media platforms may in fact not be done by regular users but by a social media warfare mercenary.

Social media warfare mercenary services can be engaged through agencies or consulting firms just as advertising services are contracted or firms are placed on a retainer. Freelance services can be contracted for activities such as writing or editing. Freelancers can be hired on an individual basis or they can be contracted through an Internet clearinghouse.

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