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Social Media Roundup/Social Media in Operational Environments

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This week's edition of the Social Media Roundup examines how to use social media in an operational environment. Social media is helping units and organizations in operational environments tell the …

This week's edition of the Social Media Roundup examines how to use social media in an operational environment. Social media is helping units and organizations in operational environments tell the Army's story, dispel rumors, connect Soldiers with their families and counter misinformation. Commanders and planners must consider the social media space when conducting battle planning and mission analysis. This Social Media Roundup discusses best social media practices in an operational environment, the importance of maintaining OPSEC, and it also gives guidance on personal social media use in operational environments.

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  • 1. Social Media Roundup Social Media in Operational Environments Using social media to keep the public, the media and Army Families informed while in combat
  • 2. Social Media Roundup Agenda This week’s Social Media Roundup will examine how to appropriately use social media in operational environments. Introduction Preparing a plan Best practices Maintaining OPSEC Personal social media use Summary
  • 3. Social Media Roundup Communication is key The Internet moves information quickly, whether for good or for bad. With its variety of platforms, social media makes the transfer of information even more pervasive. While mission success and Soldier safety are most often the primary concerns in operational environments, communicating to the public is also key. Social media is helping units and organizations in operational environments tell the Army’s story, dispel rumors, connect Soldiers with their Families and counter misinformation.
  • 4. Social Media Roundup Countering misinformation The speed of the Internet makes timely communication from the battlefield more important than ever before. Combined Joint Task Force-82 in Afghanistan posted the video to the left on their YouTube channel. It shows an air weapons team engaging and killing insurgents who were attacking a small patrol base in Paktia Province. While the Taliban claimed that Americans had randomly killed innocent civilians, this video allowed CJTF-82 to accurately portray the actual event to the media and the world. This example illustrates the importance of social media in operational environments, but social media use should not always be reactive. It should be part of the initial communication plan.
  • 5. Social Media Roundup Preparing a plan Including social media in the unit’s communication strategy
  • 6. Social Media Roundup Preparing a plan Social media use in an operational environment should be part of the overall communication plan that is established prior to deploying. Commanders and planners must consider the social media space when conducting battle planning and mission analysis. Commanders must develop and maintain a strong knowledge of the social media space to stay ahead of the increasingly quick flow of information. There should be plans in place to be both proactive and reactive when using social media assets.
  • 7. Social Media Roundup Preparing a plan Before using social media in an operational environment, commanders and social media managers must take several steps to prepare a social media plan. Define communication goals Examples: Key messages, organizational themes, Army themes Identify key audiences Examples: Media, Families, Congress, host country Analyze social media assets Examples: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc. Determine capabilities Examples: Equipment, personnel, connectivity Draft and Approve Social Media Communication Plan Draft, edit and execute
  • 8. Social Media Roundup Best Practices How to use social media effectively in operational environments
  • 9. Social Media Roundup Best practices Operational units are finding opportunities for strategic online engagement on several social media platforms. Some organizations find that Facebook is the most useful social media communication tool, while other organizations find Flickr and YouTube more effective. Ultimately, determining which platforms the organization uses depends on what the unit aims to achieve with the social media presence.
  • 10. Social Media Roundup Best practices Distribute timely information News happens fast in operational environments. If advertised and publicized correctly, people will turn to an organization’s social media sites for information, so make sure the information gets out to the public quickly. Don’t rely on the media to tell the organization’s story. Media outlets will publish what they want, but with social media, the organization controls the message. Use social media platforms to publish all the news the media chooses not to feature.
  • 11. Social Media Roundup Best practices Build a community In order to be perceived as a reliable source of information, organizations in operational environments need to build their community early, establish a following and then take them through the deployment. By detailing the beginning of the deployment process all the way through to the end, an organization can make the community part of the journey and give followers a reason to come back and check in for updates. A social media platform serves little purpose without a community, so continue to reach out this group and get them involved in the conversation early.
  • 12. Social Media Roundup Best practices Tell the story with photos Less than 1 percent of the population serves in the U.S. military so there is a great deal of curiosity out there. Social media users respond well to photos because combat images give them a taste of what their Soldiers are doing while deployed. It’s important to upload photos early and often when in an operational environment. These photos offer transparency and show people what U.S forces are doing in the operational environment. While combat photos are often well-received, make sure they clear an OPSEC review before posting. Social Media Fact Photos help tell the Army’s story even to those who speak different languages.
  • 13. Social Media Roundup Best practices Create a command voice. Be present Several commanders have used social media to connect with the public through both their unit’s social media presences and through their own personal social media presence. Gen. Odierno is one of the many Army leaders who uses Facebook to communicate with various audiences while in operational environments. Social media provides leaders the opportunity to provide updates from theater, post helpful links and keep family members connected during deployments.
  • 14. Social Media Roundup Best practices Monitor content posted by users Organizations in operational environments should encourage followers to participate in the discussion, but it’s important to watch the conversations that appear on Facebook walls and in comment sections. Conversations can provide valuable insight. They can help an organization determine what the public wants to know about the organization’s mission. Be quick to delete items that violate the organization’s posting policies. Be especially vigilant when watching for user posts that violate OPSEC and put the unit in danger.
  • 15. Social Media Roundup Maintaining OPSEC Making sure OPSEC always comes first when using social media
  • 16. Social Media Roundup Maintaining OPSEC OPSEC is always a primary concern. OPSEC in operational environments is vitally important, so OPSEC review procedures should be in place for each social media platform used during deployments. While organizations are encouraged to post updates and keep interested audiences informed, it’s important to recognize that much of the enemy’s actionable intelligence is acquired through open sources like social media. Organizations in operational environments must keep OPSEC in mind with every post, photo and video loaded to social media platforms. http://slidesha.re/cjFKx1
  • 17. Social Media Roundup Maintaining OPSEC Tagging photos with an exact location on the Internet allows random people to track an individual's location and correlate it with other information. Soldiers deploy to areas all over the world. Some locations are public, others are classified. Soldiers and Army organizations should not tag their uploaded photos with a location. Publishing photos of classified locations can be detrimental to mission success, and such actions are in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
  • 18. Social Media Roundup Maintaining OPSEC Here are a few protective measures organizations should keep in mind in order to avoid OPSEC violations. Never tag photos with a geographical location when loading to photo sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa. Never mention troop movements. Keep posted information non-specific. Make sure to post only releasable information. Do not discuss weapon capabilities in posts. Perform an OPSEC review of all proposed material before posting videos, photos and news coverage. Don’t talk around an issue. If information is classified, do not post about any part of it.
  • 19. Social Media Roundup Personal social media use Educating unit members on safe social media use during deployments
  • 20. Social Media Roundup Personal social media use Social media use in operational environments is not just limited to organizations. Soldiers use social media to connect with family and friends back home. All organizations should discuss appropriate social media use with Soldiers prior to deploying to an operational environment. Education is the key to avoiding OPSEC violations. The Uniform Code of Military Justice applies to Soldier comments and posts to social media sites just like it does everywhere else. Training resources can be accessed on the Army’s Slideshare site: http://slidesha.re/edZnHo.
  • 21. Social Media Roundup Summary Social media is helping units and organizations in operational environments tell the Army’s story, dispel rumors, connect Soldiers with their families and counter misinformation. Commanders and planners must consider the social media space when conducting battle planning and mission analysis. They must develop and maintain a strong knowledge of the social media space to stay ahead of the increasingly quick flow of information. Determining which social media platforms to use while in an operational environment depends on what the unit aims to achieve with it’s communication strategy. It’s important to understand what each platform offers by way of communication. OPSEC in operational environments is vitally important, so OPSEC review procedures should be in place for each social media platform used during deployments. All organizations should discuss appropriate social media use with Soldiers prior to deploying to an operational environment.
  • 22. Social Media Roundup Contact information Have questions? Please feel free to reach out to us at the Online and Social Media Division Email: Ocpa.osmd@us.army.mil To review and download past editions of the Social Media Roundup, visit our Slideshare site at: http://www.slideshare.net/usarmysocialmedia. All Social Media Roundups are authorized to be distributed to a broader audience. 1/12/2010 OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS PENTAGON 22