NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA MONTEREY United States
This thesis explores how Military Information Support Operations MISO organizations can leverage social networks to influence foreign target audiences. The paper acknowledges that some organizations and industries external to the defense community, like non-state actors and large businesses, routinely use social networks to project influence within certain population segments. The thesis uses four case studies to examine how non-state actors and business marketers leverage social networks to persuade target audiences and achieve goals. The case studies generate several inferences about how social networks could be leveraged within the MISO Community. First, the most influential information content does not come from within the MISO team. The best content emanates from a network of many indigenous influential actors close to or within a target audience. Because of this, MISO elements should focus more on becoming network managers rather than content developers. Second, to leverage these networks, MISO teams should identify, engage, and build mutually beneficial relationships within the influence network. This is a slow and gradual process based on mutual trust and thus takes years to complete.