Salem has stated that she wishes to snuff out the hope of humanity. However, she possesses a healthy respect for their resourcefulness and ingenuity, and knows that humans are able to derive strength from hope.
However, by dividing them and snuffing out their source of hope, she believes that she can rob humanity of their strength.
Salem has a mysterious link with her enemy, Ozpin. They have apparently been locked in a struggle over the fate of humanity for a long time, with Salem attempting to destroy humans and Ozpin defending them.
However, she is heard calmly and respectfully conversing with Ozpin in the episode "Ruby Rose". Ultimately, however, in "End of the Beginning", Salem affirms that she intends to watch Ozpin burn, but only after she destroys everything he has built.
Qrow has personally seen some of Salem's creations and stated that "they are fear". He's aware of Salem's interest in obtaining a "relic" that was in Ozpin's possession and that she does not yet have it.
Salem holds Cinder in high regard due to her Fall Maiden status, her success with destroying Beacon Academy, and her understanding that Cinder killed Ozpin. Salem does however refer to her as "young Cinder," which adds a note of condescension in their relationship.
While treating Cinder in "Of Runaways and Stowaways", Salem asks her if she really killed Ozpin. She forces Cinder to speak for herself without relying on Emerald's assistance. Whether or not she believed Cinder is uncertain, but she did order more reinforcement at Beacon directly after.
Salem puts Cinder through harsh training soon afterward, reminding her of her desires for power. In "No Safe Haven", Salem is pleased when Cinder displays mastery over the Maiden's power.
Salem trusts Tyrian enough to have him hunt Maidens and Ruby Rose.
In "Taking Control", she is very disappointed by Tyrian after he failed to capture Ruby.
Although neither have met, Salem is aware that Ruby and her abilities are a threat to her agenda, and is therefore planning to eliminate this problem. At the end of "End of the Beginning" Salem refers to Ruby as a "smaller soul", referencing Ozpin's words from "Ruby Rose".
Salem is grateful for Adam's loyalty to her cause and entrusts him with ensuring the White Fang's cooperation. It is unclear if Adam is aware of her existence.
Salem has expressed interest in recruiting the leader of the White Fang and sent Hazel to a meeting with Khan set up by Adam.
Raven is aware of Salem's existence and seeks to protect her tribe from her. Raven is intuitive enough about Salem's goals and methods to have predicted Beacon's fall and Ozpin's failure. She knows that Salem wants the relic left behind and is concerned enough about her having it to seek information from Qrow.