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U.S. Army Twitter Strategy

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  • 1. Office of the Chief of Public Affairs Online and Social Media Division Twitter strategyIntroduction:Brief explanation of TwitterTwitter is a free social networking site where users send 140-character updates or ‘Tweets’ that answer thebasic question, ‘What are you doing?’ Initially conceived as a way to have short conversations betweenfriends, it has grown to be a viable social media tool, with any message having the potential to reach millionsof people.To receive these messages, a Twitter user ‘follows’ someone whose messages they find interesting. Oncesomeone clicks ‘follow,’ they will receive all messages or ‘Tweets’ that person sends. For example, if someonesends a message, anyone who has agreed to ‘follow’ that person will see it. Followers may forward or ‘re-tweet’ messages, increasingthe reach of the originalTweet. The fastest way toeffectively add followers is toestablish credibility throughinformative, timely Tweetsand re-tweets of informationthat followers value.Twitter is similar to textmessaging, only throughTwitter one short message canbe sent to a large number ofindividuals who can choosehow they receive thoseupdates – via Short MessageService (SMS) text messages,a static web page or a Twitterapplication on their computeror mobile device.The U.S. Army on TwitterThe U.S. Army Twitter account allows engagement through dialogue about relevant topics which enablesSoldiers, Veterans, Families and the global community to connect and engage with Army news andinformation. It also provides a listening tool for the U.S. Army to get a pulse on public sentiment.Beyond the U.S. Army population and citizens, there are two other key demographics using Twitter: themedia, and intermediaries with blogs and websites of their own. The media plays an increasing role on Twitter-pushing out their own content, engaging in dialogue and searching for story ideas. Twitter provides the U.S.Army an additional outlet to increase media awareness of the official website (www.army.mil) as a trustedsource for information. 1 Updated 30 July 2012
  • 2. Technical Approach The name of the Twitter account is based on the U.S. Army brand, and not an individual’s name. This allows for multiple people to update and maintain the account, ensuring continuity of operations. Access to the U.S. Army’s Twitter account will be only given members of the Online and Social Media team that have a direct need to post content, monitor activity or engage with users. Access to the account is through a unique username and password that has the following requirements:  The password must contain at least 10 characters, contain at least 2 special characters, 2 numbers, 2 uppercase letters, and 2 lowercase letters. The password is changed every 30-60 days. The U.S. Army’s Twitter account will be monitored at least 3-5 times seven days a week by staff members who have administrative access to the account. A list of all official U.S. Army Twitter accounts can be found at www.army.mil/socialmedia. All official Army social media accounts must be registered on this site as well. Branding toolkit for all official U.S. Army Twitter accounts can be found at http://www.army.mil/create/. Service Agreement The standard Terms of Service that Twitter offers the public was found acceptable by U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and other agency lawyers, so GSA did not negotiate an amended Terms as with other social media providers.The U.S. Army Social Media Team Messaging Strategies: Content The U.S. Army’s Twitter page primary focus on informing followers about the U.S. Army, providing updates on breaking news and engaging in conversations. Content areas include:  Articles, videos and images posted on the U.S. Army website, www.army.mil.  Breaking news updates and information (must be previously coordinated or published simultaneously with updates from the Media Relations division).  Media stories about topics relevant to the broader U.S. Army.  Blog entries posted on the official U.S. Army blog, Army Live http://armylive.dodlive.mil.  Content provided by other Army units/commands/official accounts. 2 Updated 30 July 2012
  • 3.  Responses to questions and commentary from Twitter users.  Crisis communication updates and engagement.The Social Media Team encourages external organizations to provide content for Tweets regardingupdates to programs or information about their benefits. Content can be sent via E-mail toocpa.osmed@us.army.mil. External organization’s Tweets are posted on a consistent basis with prioritygiven to:  Crisis communication information that is relevant to U.S. Army missions.  Content from Army organizations supporting Army Themes.  Information with a specific deadline (e.g. a new career/education opportunity).  Critical information updates.  Strategic initiatives or Senior Leader priorities.Response ManagementTwitter is most effectively used as a conversation tool; soliciting direct questions and responses fromfollowers. Responding to Tweets builds credibility with the audience and lets them know the U.S. Army islistening to their concerns and issues.The following strategies will be employed to manage responses:  Respond to specific queries with a casual, friendly and personable tone. Correct the record as an official source of information, as necessary.  Direct people to sources that can help them specifically—the U.S. Army website, other government agencies, press releases, FAQs, etc.  Provide professional updates as an official source. Avoid commonly used social media jargon including emoticons and short-hand writing such as OMG, IDC, 2day, TGIF, etc.U.S. Army ‘Following Guidance’The U.S. Army will ‘follow’ Twitter pages based on the following criteria: 1. It is an official U.S. Army Twitter page or an official page maintained by another government agency. 2. And other Twitter pages, so long as: 3 Updated 30 July 2012
  • 4. a. The Twitter page consistently posts information the U.S. Army’s followers would find useful. b. The Twitter page is maintained by a large media outlet or news representative that covers topics relevant to the U.S. Army. c. They are non-political in nature and not religiously-biased. d. They do not sell products or have contracts with the U.S. government.NOTE: Following a Twitter page, reTweeting content, responding to Twitter users and Tweeting contentfrom external sites does not equal endorsement by the U.S. Army.HashtagsHashtags are used to make topics more searchable or easy to find. The top hashtags are shown on Twitteras “trending topics.” Hashtags are particularly useful during events or when breaking news is happening.The U.S. Army uses hashtags to designate its post about relevant events or issues that may be trending.Hashtags used/relevant to the U.S. Army include:#USArmy; #Veterans; #AUSA2012 (Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting);#MilitaryMon (Military Monday); #FollowFriday/#FF (promoting new accounts to follow on Fridays);#War; #Afghanistan; #SOT (Support Our Troops); #WoundedWarrior; #Military; #MilHealth;#MilSpouse; #MilFam.URL Click-TrackingDue to character limitations on Twitter (140 character maximum), users often use URL shorteningservices, such as https://go.usa.gov/, to convert a Web address to a shorter link with fewer characters. TheU.S. Army uses URL shorteners as an analytical tool that provides statistics as to how many times anindividual link has been clicked on, referral sites and location detail.Measuring SuccessThe following metrics will be used to determine success:  Analysis of the number of visitors coming from Twitter to the U.S. Army’s official website.  The number of times the U.S. Army’s material is re-tweeted.  The amount of direct engagement with Soldiers, Veterans, Families and the general public by tracking activity such as retweets, @replies and direct messages. 4 Updated 30 July 2012
  • 5.  The number of followers the U.S. Army has and percentage increase of followers over a particular period of time.  The amount of conversations about the U.S. Army, its brand or initiatives (i.e. tracking conversations using hashtags such as #Soldiers and #USArmy; monitoring keywords such as Medal of Honor).  The reach of U.S. Army content, as posted on Twitter.All measurements are crucial in determining how we can better serve our audience and to display to SeniorLeadership the importance of using social media platforms to engage with the U.S. Army family and ourglobal audience. 5 Updated 30 July 2012