Much is being made of international terrorist organization ISIS’ superior use of social media and video. The same can be said for the Arab Spring in Egypt and the brand backlash against domestic violence among NFL players. What most pundits mischaracterize, however, is what’s driving the momentum. It’s the message that leads to desired action.

ISIS uses video and social media to recruit the disaffected. But those people are motivated by action and adventure portrayed in ISIS video. ISIS attempts to strike fear within U.S. citizens and allied countries. But only through the use of shocking, emotional beheadings is ISIS able to accomplish some level of citizens feeling vulnerable.

Most CEOs—especially in B2B companies—hesitate to engage in social media and video. And they’re right! Without clearly defined objectives and audiences, social media, video, public relations, executive communications and so forth ultimately fail. Use of any communication tool without a compelling message followed by appropriate action is a losing proposition.

As ISIS demonstrates through compelling—albeit horrific—messaging, video and social media can be a powerful tool to advance an organization’s agenda. And certainly these communications tools are worth a look by companies interested in engaging their audiences. But only with clearly defined objectives, audiences and a compelling message to match.

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