BACKGROUND INFORMATIONCategory F: Outstanding initiative in new media In October 2010, the North Carolina National Guard launched it’s Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube accounts. Mission Objectives As the push for the military to enter the social media community began to get strong, the NCNG’s Public Affairs office felt that it was important to establish a social media presence - in order to provide better access of informa- tion to the local and national media, and to communicate with the Soldiers and Airmen of the NCNG. One segment of the NCNG PA Social Media mission is to utilize this valuable emerging media technology outlet to deliver the National Guard’s message and share the NCNG’s strategic objectives: North Carolina National Guard Twitter - Provide ready forces to support Federal and State requirements – provides the community with real-time Twitter.com/NCNationalGuard information and timely updates on what measures the NCNG is taking to meet these objectives. For example: • A monthly report on NCNG troops deployed is produced via the social media outlets to gain support of friends, family members and fellow Soldiers at home via posts to encourage morale at home and abroad. North Carolina National Guard YouTube • When the NCNG was called upon for state duty (ex. during Hurricane Irene), our program was YouTube.com/NCNationalGuard capable of communicating with emergency services and relief partner organizations, as well as informing our community and updating them on conditions and appropriate safety measures. - Develop and participate in programs that add value to our members, families, employers, and communities. For example: • The Facebook page allows members to send products and share messages to Soldiers and Airmen abroad via posts, photos or video messages. • Weekly strategic meetings within the Public Affairs office are conducted to develop posting schedule two weeks ahead and identify key NCNG programs or units to highlight capabilities of NCNG. • The social media accounts highlight regularly a certain function of the NCNG such as Yellow Ribbon, Family Programs, Starbase, Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy, etc. Target Audiences Each of our social media accounts has a different target audience. We look to connect with Soldiers and Airmen North Carolina National Guard Facebook to distribute products more effectively via Flickr, their families who can connect with Soldiers & Airmen regard- Facebook.com/NCNationalGuard less of location on Facebook, the reporters interested in the NCNG story on Twitter, and our partner organizations on YouTube. External Audiences We have been able to connect with military enthusiasts via our Twitter and Flickr accounts, Social Media mar- North Carolina National Guard Flickr keting companies via promoting at conferences, and military organizations/military support groups on our Twit- Flickr.com/ncngpao ter and Facebook accounts.
The NCNG Public Affairs office launched its official Facebook page on October 1, 2010. Since its launch, we One of the biggest successes of the Facebook page has been the NCNG’s ability to create dialogue within its com-have gained over 1,500 “Fans” to our community, received over one million post “views”, and average about 100 munity. This was exemplified when a potential recruit asked a question about the National Guard. His post was“people talking about this” on any given day. answered promptly. The Fan is now an active member of our community who actively participates in conversa- tions about the NCNG. Our Facebook When created, no specific number was set on fan metrics because we felt it was about the quality of the commu- page continues to offer real advice in a nity, over the quantity. The community that has developed includes Soldiers, military families, military support timely manner over a broad range of organizations, and the general public. Due to a comprehensive and organized approach to developing our Face- topics. Our community seems very book page, we spend more time posting up-to-date events and less time enforcing operational security issues. comfortable to ask questions via the Facebook page, as well as show their One example of the success of the NCNG Facebook Page is through being tagged by influencers. support for deployed and returning units. We frequently pose open-ended Organizations that we deem to be influencers, are the organizations that we work together with that have a high questions to Soldiers on a wide variety of level of visibility. Influencers see our page as a taggable asset. Influencers tagging us increases the visibility to our topics, of which the community providespage tremendously. The graphic below from Facebook Insights illustrates our page visibility during the time we valuable feedback. The community em were tagged by the U.S. Army and the National Guard. The peak of the graph is at over 100,000 views. Our page braces the open forum of question and typically gets around 1,200 views a day. answer as well as showing support for NCNG Soldiers. Facebook has become a good platform for welcoming troops back home from deployments. Support is gener- ated by posting a photo of returned NCNG Soldiers & Airmen embracing family members. Often these photos are “shared” by our fans on their per- sonal Facebook pages, increasing visibility and often causing the post to go “viral”. Photos of troops deployed are good for generating mo- rale for friends and families, to see that their loved one is doing fine overseas.
The biggest external referrer is to our public website http://www.nc.ngb.army.mil/, thus dovetailing our tradi-Our page has also seen the other side of war, tional media outreach. We also use Facebook as an additional news release conduit to our viewers who may notthe part that nobody likes to think about access our public site. Stories that don’t make it to our public site are produced via the “Notes” tab on our page,- death. NCNG Soldier Lt. Ashley including relevant photos.White-Stumpf died in October 2011.Her photo was posted to the NCNG page Facebook also provides another outlet to display our Soldiers and Airmen’s work by posting stories, photos, andas a memorial, and our Fans used the post as videos. As Facebook has evolved, we’ve developed a formula for posting, considering timeliness, and which typesa way to recognize and send condolences to of posts receive the most comments and likes.her family. The post received close to 100“comments” and “shares”. Fans are confident to post relevant content to generate support from the FacebookThe posting of the photo generated plenty of community onto our wall.support, and even resulted in the creation ofa Lt. Ashley White-Stumpf memorial page.Being that it was a very sensitive issue, wewere careful to monitor all the commentsposted during this time. Fortunately, ourFans had nothing but positive things to sayabout the life Ashley lived, and the Soldiershe was.```````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````We’ve begun utilizing new technology, including Smartphones & HD mini- We also like to try new things with our Facebook community, like video cameras, to shoot and conduct contests and surveys to get input from our Fans on certain upload video suitable for topics and issues. This helps us get a better feel on what type of con- Facebook. The NCNG’s Face- tent our fans are interested in. book page provides inter- views of NCNG Soldiers and exercises based on the daily communication objective. A recent video was shot inside the Adjutant General’soffice, a place Fans might not typically have access to, of a member of our organization receiving a MeritoriousService Medal. This video was posted on the Adjutant General’s official Facebook page with his comments added.(Although not shown with this graphic) This video link was shared by the North Carolina Department of PublicSafety on their Facebook Page. Our community enjoys this type of content to provide an up close and personal This has been received well by our Fans, as you can see in the perspective of the organization. graphic to the left. A question was asked on what reserve comp- onent has the most activated members. This received several resp- onses, and was a great way to giveaway some tickets that another Soldier who was donated them, was not able to attend the event.
The NCNG organizational page works together with units associates with it, such as 113th Sustainment Brigade What the North Carolina National Guard uses Twitter for:and the North Carolina Air National Guard: The NCNG Public Affairs office created our Twitter network in October 2010, and are currently at over 700 Fol- lowers. Our account is updated frequently with all different types of content. It was initially created with corre- spondent accounts attached to it, similar to how news organizations have developed their Twitter enterprise. What types of content we post – Our correspondents use Twitter as a platform to seek out Followers to increase the organization’s overall exposure, therefore increasing the amount of people that hear the NCNG’s command messages. Each member of the Public Affairs staff utilize available resources such as Smartphones, and laptops connected to a wifi to create and distribute content while on-site on a mission. This content that’s tweeted by the individual correspondents will then be shared by the @NCNationalGuard account in the form of a “retweet” –We’ll tag pages in related posts, in an effort to cross thus adding the human aspect to the tweet, and encouraging the @NCNationalGuard accounts followers to alsopromote. It’s important to not over share their content follow the correspondent.because the theory is if Fans want to constantly get theircontent, they will “like” their page. As the @NCNationalGuard, we also share content with organizations that we work closely with such as the North Carolina National Guard Family Programs (@NCNGFamily), North Carolina Air National Guard (@NCAirGuard), North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety (@NCCrimeControl), The NC Governor’s Office (@NCGovOffice), and more. We also share content from our big spheres of influence such as The U.S. Army (@TheUSArmy), U.S. Air Force (@USAirForce) The National Guard (@TheNatlGuard), The USO (@USO) , and many more.We’ll also like pages ofsimilar organizationsand ones that we worktogether with, which dis- Sharing content from our units across the state is greatplays them on our page, way to illustrate our reach and that each organizationhoping to gain support works together to combine for a “Ready Team”, “Alwaysfrom our Fans. Ready” whenever called upon.
We follow many individuals who have indentified themselves as NC National Guard Soldiers & Airmen. This is Sometime’s we’ll do some trivia with the NCNG Twitter community -an effective way to assure those in the NC Guard are seeing our command messages. Early in 2011, we had anNCNG Soldier who had posted a tweet that some would see as suicidal. We tried to contact the individual via hisTwitter account, to be sure everything was alright. When he didn’t answer the tweet, we forwarded to our Behav-ioral Health Director. She was able to contact this Soldier via the contact information he provided on his Twitterprofile, and he explained that he was just worried he’s car might break down, but that he was fine. Harmless, butbetter safe than sorry considering the prevalance of suicides in the military today.We also have followed one individual who recently joined the NCNG. He was having a hard time getting in dueto weight issues, and we helped encourage him to keep trying by sending messages concerning ways to get inshape. We have followed him the entire time, and he is just now getting through basic training. The effectiveness of Twitter for us has really been creating a point of contact during emergency op- erations. Along with NC Department of Public Safety we were able to develop and promote the hashtag #NCIrene, during Hurricane Irene. We provided information regarding shelter locationsAnother individual we have been following is a Soldier who is training to join the 20th Special Forces Group by retweeting the local Red Cross twitter accounts, we coordinated with Governor Perdue’s office in regards toof the NC National Guard. He’ll frequently send messages expressing his progress as he approaches selection, what monetary relief was going where, and we gave an update on our troops and what they were doing to helpwhich, typically we’ll retweet to our followers. out. This guard member also has a following of supporters that encourage him on his journey. We also stay in touch with emergency operations’ Twitter accounts during any other natural disasters that mayOne Soldier we follow helped us with our creation of affect people across the state of North Carolina -a segment called ‘tips from the frontline’.
This photo received almost 2,000 views since Hurricane Irene, and was shared by several different news orga- nizations web pages when referring to the hurricane.FlickrAs part of our Public Affairs standard operating procedure, when photographers go out on a mission, theyupload their photos on to Flickr, and create a set. This is an effective way to get out of the disc creation business.Thus we are saving the National Guard money, and have made it a quicker process for people requesting photos.Since we launched Flickr in October, 2010, we’ve uploaded 153 sets, and received over 197,000 views. An effec-tive way to get our views up, we’ve found out, is by adding tags. By adding these tags to the set ‘Tribute to the Troops - WWE Superstars visit Fayetteville Armory’, we were able to get views up to our highest of any set, currently over 1,200 views on just 62 photos.Another method of interacting withthe Flickr community, involves doinga search on tags such as ‘NC NationalGuard’ and even our units ‘30thHBCT’, and finding eye-grabbingphotos on the NC National Guard. Instead of producing a CD for ever mobilization or retirement, Flickr is an effective way to post our high quality photos for the public, where they can view, share and even download the photos for their personal use.Sharing - we’ve noticed that if we just link our photos to the Facebook, the views are not as plentiful. So we’llshare one photo from a set, then provide the link with ‘more photos here’ followed by the link. We’ll also shareindividual photos and the set on our Twitter account, and as a slideshow on our public website - nc.ngb.army.mil.
So that anyone can access our produced videos, and so that units across the state can upload videos without hav- We are making technological advances toing to worry about large file sizes and the lack of an FTP site, we’ve created a YouTube channel. We’ll post photos increase our video production, which includesof our Soldiers & Airmen out on missions, ceremonies, official visits, and videos that illustrate our command live streaming. For the National Guard’s 375thmessage. Birthday, we streamed a ceremony at the North Carolina State Capitol building. Although thisThe suicide prevention video featuring the Adjutant video only received 163 views, it set the stageGeneral, currently has over 600 views. This is an for us to accomplish more streaming in theimportant video that we continuously share through future.our other social networks so that it gets seen by asmany people as possible. The NCNG Public Affairs and Visual Informa- tion team looks to increase our streaming capa- bilities in the future, adding hardware to make this process more efficient. Another way we better promote products to be picked up by national media is by uploading to We’ll also post raw footage, or “b-roll” in high definition for DVIDS. Media and interested fans can download news organizations to pick up and use. To the left is a video high definition video from DVIDS for their use. from Hurricane Irene of our troops and emergency man- agement on the ground right after Hurricane Irene We also use DVIDS to give our internal users ac- hit the east coast of North Carolina, footage that not cess to the NCNG content - because of network many were willing to get. restrictions which block access to sites like You- Tube.Often, we’ll post stories from our correspondents and public affairs detachments from across the state.The story below is from an Air Assault pre-event course video package in the fall of 2011.
Posting and Monitoring tools MetricsAll of our social media outlets work together to help support the NCNG’s command messages. To best accom- Early on, as Social Media was growing it’s legs, so to speak, it could sometimes be a hard sell for senior leaders.plish this, and assure we get the best value for each, we use a couple programs to assist with content posting and To show how effective Social Media was for our organization, we put together a weekly social media report. Thismonitoring. report encompasses the entire NCNG social media efforts, going into detail with key analytics featuring graphs Hootsuite is an online resource we use to schedule posts for times that we might and charts - showing the products growth. As social media has evolved, so has the justification for military units not be posting. There are some posts that we’re able to schedule weeks out, as to have a presence. well as some evergreen stories we put into Hootsuite to go out on schedule. The NCNG Public Affairs team uses our weekly metrics report to gauge success, short and long term. We use it as a way to determine our planning schedule, looking at what was most effective, and vice versa. The report uses screenshots of the pages as examples of succesful posts, with some key topics of note briefly described. We use Tweetdeck to monitor the many different accounts, keywords, hashtags, and events associated with the NC National Guard, it’s units and partners.
Marketing Strategy ConclusionThe North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs team developed Social Media business cards which listed theURL’s to all of the accounts. These business cards were distributed on missions, and special events hosted or at- The North Carolina National Guard’s Social Media efforts encompass not only connecting and getting the com-tended by the NC National Guard. mand message to the Soldiers, Airmen, friends and families, but also to communicate with partner organizations and help streamline communications during emergency situations. We provide our community with a perspective of the NCNG that traditional media may not be able to. With the constant growth, and ever evolving world of social media, we are constantly looking for ways to im- prove our manner of getting the NCNG’s command messages out to the public. Our social media efforts work hand-in-hand with those command messages to: 1. Be a ready team of citizen-Soldiers and Airmen who are always ready, always there to protect and preserve the life’s and property of North Carolina citizens, defend ourMembers of the Public Affairs team also added the accounts to the signature block in their email. nation and secure our American way of life. - illustrated through our emergency operations and the willingness move vigorouslyEach one of the accounts promotes one another by providing links, and cross promoting on each network. The to streamline our strategic communications with developed hashtags, etc.Public Affairs team has also added links to the public website - nc.ngb.army.mil - and on the NC Army Guard Knowledge Online. 2. The more than 12,000 Soldiers and Airmen of the North Carolina National Guard are deployed to all 100 counties every day. - shown through the many organizational pages and our promotion of them.Developments in our Social Media - 3. The North Carolina National Guard is the best bargain for our state and nation. - Social Media is a “free” outlet we’ve used to tell the story of the NCNG Soldier and Airmen.Recently, we’ve added our leaders into the world of Social Media. The Adjutant General of North Carolina, MajorGeneral Gregory A. Lusk, has a Twitter and Facebook account. We develop a weekly schedule for posting a week Our efforts to embrace new technology as well as introducing our leaders to Social Media keeps us relevant inahead, and will generate those posts, but the schedule leaves room for flexibility, which we call on-the-fly posts. regards to military organization’s and Social Media.TAG could be considered quite social media savvy himself and will post to Twitter and Facebook via his mobilephone on the way back from a visit, for example. We’ll monitor his account for SPAM, and any accuracy issues. We’ve constantly evolved our strategy, for example, posting less to Facebook in an effort not to “pollute” our FansHe’s also responded to posts on to his wall. newsfeed, and in effect blocking us, which is counter-intuitive to our strategic communications goals. On the other hand, we’ve learned that posting quite often to Twitter and continuously interacting with our community isIn the past month we’ve developed pages for the highest enlisted and officer’s for both the NC Army and NC Air better.National Guard so that we can continue to send out our command messages to even more of our Soldiers andfamilies throughout the state of North Carolina. We’ve developed ways to communicate back and forth with our community on each network, sounding authen- tic and professional at all times, and generally, creating a self-sustaining community that we continue to shareWe’ve developed standard operating procedures for leaders in social media, and in the future we see this becom- our story with, monitor, and grow.ing a more and more important part of our strategic communication plan. Though our following is not as big as other communities may be, we see that as an advantage due to the fact thatAs we look ahead to 2012 and beyond, we have plans to develop NCNG TV for production to internal audience - we’ve been able to count the number of abusive posts on one hand. Thus, the slow growth follows the mantracommand information to be shown at the several armories across the state, and to show flight information to our ‘quality over quantity’ as our community has developed into one that sincerely cares about the North Carolinaflight facilities across the state - and to our external audience, with branded material. National Guard. This is proven by the increased number of wall posts from our Fans on Facebook showing their support.Long Term Goals We also have not jumped to ‘bite more than we can chew’ by resisting the urge to jump into ever-growing socialWe’d like our community to continue to actively participate in NCNG PAO directed discussions. We’re trying to networks like LinkedIn and Google+, rather sticking to what we’ve developed and continuing to find ways to bet-get our community to upload more content relevant to the communication objectives. We’ll continue to encour- ter connect with our community through the current networks.age leadership participation on our Social Media outlets. This brings out the personal aspect of social media, andallows Soldiers to have a platform to communicate with leaders they might not have the opportunity to other- We look ahead to numerous growth opportunities for our social media efforts and communications strategy aswise. whole, for 2012 and for year’s to come.