Military Culture Change & Social Media: The State of Social


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Social media has changed military media culture in surprising ways. The widespread use and adoption of social media within the military has largely taken place in the past two years. In a short amount of time, access to information has flattened, leadership expectations of candor have changed, and the need to use social media tools effectively has become critical.

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  • I’m a mom, a media maven, and the editor of
  • Ken Goldstein, Liability expert at Chubb Insurance companies was quoted in the New York Times as saying that social media should “emulate a newspaper operation.” Meaning we need to go old school – back to the world of editors, editorial policy and thoughtful commentary. There’s a fine line between transparency and stupidity.
  • Today we have defense industry demands that didn’t even exist five years ago. Things like cloud architects and engineers.And some of the most in-demand skills for service members and contractors are cyber skills. A budget crunch is putting us back on a meat and potatoes diet, but internet security is absolutely a part of that diet.
  • (Quotes courtesy Gen. David Petraeus) The cultural shift we’ve seen take place as a result of social media has its pros and cons. The accessibility of leaders is a positive. We have individuals such as LTG Mark Hertling, who is a great example of this. He connects with Soldiers at all levels on Facebook. Yet he also values decorum and professionalism, and arriving at U.S. Army Europe even cited a crisis in the professionalism of soldiers as an issue to be addressed. Information and communication needs to be flattened. It doesn’t take the place of the chain of command when it comes to policy decisions. But leaders do want more information than ever, and they want it unfiltered. Our public also wants more information, and they want it unfiltered.
  • Today the question isn’t what is social media or whether or not you should be using it, it’s what makes great social media and how you can apply it to your community. Military leadership has embraced or accepted the need to engage online but it is up to us to provide the right solutions. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all social media strategy.
  • Before you consider platforms, before you consider outreach mechanisms, you have to consider content.What are your current content resources and what do they need to be in order to effectively engage online? Who are your content creators?Content must match community. Best to own your content but aggregation and sharing are also important.
  • I’m not going to ask you to raise your hands, but I’m sure most of you still push content through your social media channels. (I would be raising my own hand at this point, too).Push marketing is a perfect example of failure to embrace the culture change created by social media. Pushing out content might work for awhile. And there might even be some venues where pushing out content makes sense – traditional newsletters or email campaigns haven’t lost their place. But push marketing fails to take advantage of your audience. Rather than leveraging them, you actually battle them. It’s a tug-of-war for control. Marketers and media mavens don’t stop pushing content, but social media also demands feedback mechanisms and conversation.
  • How many of you already have a social media strategy for your organization? What kinds of things did you look at in making that strategy?-Budget: I used to say budget was irrelevant when it comes to social media. At the beginning stages there tends to be such a focus on how difficult it is, I think money can get a lot of people worked up. But to say that money isn’t relevant - especially as you look to integrate social media across your website or develop web exclusive content – just doesn’t work anymore. The defense industry is in a budget constrained environment but I think that makes it even more important to demonstrate the return on investment for social media outreach.-Audience/community – In contrast to the push versus pull argument we just looked at, your audience should determine your social strategy. They can even help you crowd-source it. -Goals – Your strategy should basically just be a roadmap toward your goals, whatever they may be. And while some of your goals can be broad (we’ll talk about this later), at least some need to be specific, and should be things only your organization can accomplish.
  • This is why we don’t get attached to platforms. Facebook may be huge and your grandma may be on it, but if it becomes the next MySpace, be prepared to find the next Facebook (I’m not speculating that this will happen, but you get my point). The military has always been more receptive to change than we’ve been given credit for. Extra credit: who has had the fastest growing mobile audience over the past year? Twitter.
  • At ClearanceJobs we divide our outreach into two groups – our seeker marketing audience and our customer or client audience (the folks who post jobs and look for candidates on the site). This can be equated to internal and external audience outreach. While many brand awareness campaigns serve both audience there’s generally a primary target, and should be in most campaigns. The Queensland tourisms’s “best job in the world” campaign is another great example of the blending of traditional and social media outreach. Brand Awareness is one of those broad goals that pretty much everyone is looking to accomplish through social media. When it comes to successful brand awareness campaigns, being broad (as it pertains to your audience), and the power of presence both apply. It’s why you “need” to be on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube right now, for the most part. It’s like running a media market without pitching to the New York Times (you know, back when people read newspapers). You’d better have a really good reason not to.
  • I’ll argue this should be one of those broad, universal goals for almost any agency or organization. If you don’t want something back from your community, what’s the point of being on social media? And if you’re not prepared for feedback, there’s still some education/culture shift that needs to happen internally. Key to feedback is going where your audience is and not reinventing the wheel. Has anyone heard of the Army’s GTSY campaign? That’s because after a contract award, and the investment of time and energy into the campaign, it didn’t go anywhere. It turns out that having a separate “off-duty” network for the Army was a tough sell. When does it make sense to have a dedicated network for a specific audience? The Cleared Network is a perfect example of that. Intelligence analysts with a TS-SCI really aren’t into posting all of their personal details to Linked In. But most do understand the power of online networks to a successful job search. That’s why ClearanceJobs created the Cleared Network – it provides cleared job seekers an exclusive online network to recruit with recruiters – all behind a secure firewall.
  • Your organization website SHOULD be the starting place of your online media strategy. I say this knowing it was impossible in the 2008 timeframe when military organizations were just embarking in the social media space. Defense contractors and nonprofits should have an easier time of it but having worked with many of you I realize your corporate web policies can often be just as prohibitive. Now that it’s clear that social on the web is here to stay, we have to adjust our online efforts to include our official web pages as the centerpiece of that strategy. How do we do it? By putting great content on our sites, filling our sites with social features that make sense, and building intuitive, easy to navigate home pages.
  • A part of the magical title 10 function that those of us who have worked official military public affairs posts appreciate is the notion that we’re not supposed to influence but simply “inform and educate.” In an effort to avoid propaganda however we sometimes fail to do our jobs. Social media is a venue that demands action. If our post aren’t generating some reaction than we’re missing the mark. If we want to be successful, we should identify the reaction we’re looking for at the onset. Too often we create social media goals that are mind-numbingly vague. Which is great if we’re looking to hit all marks in our next review but not great if we’re actually looking to accomplish something. People want to give, and they want to act – consider the success of online social giving site Razoo.
  • Unfortunately, just telling individuals in the intelligence and national security business – including our service members – to shut up isn’t a workable strategy anymore. They’re our best spokespersons and social media finally provides us the mechanism to network, engage and mobilize that community. The biggest culture shift social media has allowed has happened internally. But we’ve only begun to tap into the opportunity to use social media to enhance and amplify our external communications. As the final troops return from Iraq, it will become even more important to use social media to remind the American public of what our service members are doing.
  • 3HBCT 3ID has always been one of my favorite social media examples because it paints a perfect picture of “grassroots” movement by individual service members wish specific gifts taking those skills to tell their units stories. During a deployment last year the Hammer produced an entire web video series titled “Hardships, Hearts & Heroes.” As many military organizations are still trying to figure out how to “do” web video they put together a great product, with lots of hands-on footage, great editing, good use of music – the whole package. We’re going to continue to struggle over the coming months and years, especially as service members exit combat operations.
  • We have a lot of resources at our disposal – including amazing service members, an already active online community and some robust content resources.
  • The reality is there is no time when the separation between those serving and those not serving has been so great. And as we have service members returning home and entering the civilian workforce, there will be increased opportunities for those willing to tap into the skills and help tell the stories of our service members. (Shirt: Ranger Up; Quote: Nick Palmisciano
  • Military Culture Change & Social Media: The State of Social

    1. 1. The State of Social:Culture Change and Military SocialMedia
    2. 2. Who Am I?
    3. 3. Social Media Needs EditorsSome people need adult supervision when using social media.
    4. 4. Today’s War Stories
    5. 5. Starfish and Spiders“In the absence of guidance ororders, figure out what they shouldhave been and executeaggressively!” “You have to be careful . . . it is great to flatten [the organization] for information, but there does need to be a hierarchy when it comes to people pushing recommendations up, pushing policy decisions up . . . you can’t shove aside a subordinate organization and just take it over.”
    6. 6. Not What – How?
    7. 7. Content in the Spotlight
    8. 8. Push = FAIL
    9. 9. What determines your social strategy?
    10. 10. Be Prepared to Change
    11. 11. Goal: Brand/Organization Awareness The importance of presence and integration.
    12. 12. Goal: Customer/Community EngagementSometimes, reinventing the wheel is what your communityneeds. Sometimes, it isn’t.
    13. 13. Goal: A Change in Attitude, Behavior or Action
    14. 14. Where are we at in social/web engagement?
    15. 15. Keep the camera rolling…
    16. 16. What we’re working with“Never in the field ofhuman conflict has somuch been owed to sofew.”
    17. 17. Contact meLindy