Tag Archives: armed services social media working group

Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen discuss social networks

In Georgetown University’s Riggs Library, built in the 1890s and filled with with vast resources, about two dozen members from various U.S. military organizations gathered to discuss the military’s use of social media with industry and academia reps.

The event hosted by the University is part of DOD’s Armed Services Working Group on Social Media and consistently addresses the current and future roles the military is taking with social media.

“There has been an absence of our voice online,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, a Public Affairs officer with the U.S. Army  “That’s why we’re here. And for the most part, people are saying great things about the services; these tools help get our messages out.”

A monthly lessons-learned session on social media issues and answers, to include what to do right and what not to do is the focus of DOD’s working group in which all services and the Coast Guard are represented.

Today’s sessions included presentations from the services about social networking and by executives from many organizations including facebook, an insanely popular social networking site. 

All military services are represented on the site which now hosts more than 200million users. 

The Air Force has undergone challenges with its facebook profile; however, we’re committed to revamping, rebuilding and rebranding the site to make it effective for those interested in obtaining Air Force information via social networks and have a new site in the development stages. Any ideas out there?

One organization that understands social media and its ability to provide truthful and transparent discussions is the U.S. Army which doesn’t censor its own facebook page, allowing any user to post comments that fit within a rough commenting policy. 

This is a basic building block of social media and their community of users can make positive or negative comments, correct the record on an issue if needed, share ideas and comments, engage employee communication, as well as encourage thoughtful debate on issues.

“Leaving up negative comments adds to the organization’s credibility,” Colonel Arata said about the Army’s facebookfan page which attracted more than 24,000 fans in about a month. 

Adam Connor from facebook’s Washington, D.C. office gave a good presentation on what organizations and people should do to stay in touch with people and also discussed how communication is changing.

“We’re a new space,” he said reflecting on his company’s mission: give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. 

Some stats about the site: it’s only five years old and is in 40 languages and if it was a country, it would be the fifth largest in the world. Only 60million of facebook’s 200million are in the U.S.


“There’s a new communications’ method now for the officer corps in the military, due in large part from their acceptance in college like the service academies,” Mr. Connor said due to the large amounts of college-aged users signing up.

Understanding the intricacies of organizational military communication, usually top-down, and how it fits in a social network will be interesting due in large part to the democratized information flow at a lateral level between users and organizations. 

Is Twitter functional for (public) military purposes

Yes; but it depends.  Depends on how it’s done, if it’s done correctly, transparently and creates a dialogue. It needs to be done with a purpose of supporting an overall communication program as well.  So, for missions like Public Affairs, real-time micro blogs like Twitter have become an effective way of communicating a short message to many people (one’s following) because they then re-post messages to their followings.  

he Public Affairs folks at Air Force Materiel Command are venturing into the Twitter craze and “will tweet the Annual AFMC Enlisted Awards live as they are announced Thursday, 9 April at the National Museum of the United States Air Force,” said Mr. Ron Fry, Director of Public Affairs at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.   

“We will tweet the names of the winners” and “to receive these tweets, sign-up to follow AFMC’s official Twitter site: “AFMC_Now” he said.

Mr Fry said that DoD employees may be blocked from viewing Twitter at work and encourages interested people to sign up from their mobile device or at home.

He also said this is “one of many steps the Air Force has taken to keep up with changing technology and adapt to the way people receive news.”

A few recent examples how micro-blogging helped get the Air Force message out, include:
An aircraft crash that did not happen.
An aircraft crash that did happen.
– Creating buzz on Air Force projects. Look at a post from BuzzBin on Public Affairs Guidance
– An Air Force Squadron Commander at Keesler AFB, MS uses Twitter to update family members on base issues when the evacuate the base due to Hurricanes. It’s possible to provide updates from mobile devices, is text based so it doesn’t require tremendous bandwith and augments traditional leadership updates.

– You can check out the real-time results of the keyword search “Air Force” here.

Twitter is not new to the military or the Air Force. Air Force Public Affairs has several profiles: @afpaa, @airforce, @US_Air_Force and many units and individuals around the service have their own as well.

One deployed Airman uses his Twitter account and his blog to communicate with friends and families from the front: Afghanistan.

Safety and Security online:
Microblogging, specifically Twitter these days, allows any Airman to connect their story to millions; however Airmen should always know that anyone anywhere can see posts and good OPSEC and COMSEC rules should always be used.

A good rule of thumb from Social Media expert David Meerman Scott: “Never say anything on social media that you wouldn’t say to your mom at the dinner table.”  Very good rule David.