Loose Lips Sink Ships Military Lessons In Being A Social Brand
May 22, 2012
As Memorial Day is upon us, it's a day set aside to honor those who have served and continue to serve our nation.
In 1942, as millions volunteered or were drafted for military duty, communication guidelines were given to the soldiers and their families on the dangers of how unintended information could be leaked to the enemy during World War II. Most of these soldiers and family members never really thought about how vulnerable casual conversation could make them.
So to solve that, the government established a code of conduct, "Think before you speak."
And 70 years later, the message remains not only the same but even more important with today's technology.
In spite of the challenges that come along with this "open and connected world" such as social sharing and location-based settings, the military's shift towards strategically employing digital and social platforms to advance the Armed Forces' public affairs goals and to "compete in an evolving global messaging space" is something all companies who are deploying random acts of social should take note of.
The US Military looked at it this way: If they can train soldiers to operate technical equipment and navigate the battlefield, they could also effectively train soldiers in the proper use and behavior in the social space.
But first it was a matter of identifying what these channels could help them achieve and then creating a strategy around it.
Below are some of the highlights from the U.S. Armed Forces Digital and Social Strategy.
Establish a Direction:
The Armed Forces have a clear mission in storytelling and informing.
So first, they brought in Jack Holt who served as Sr. Strategist for Emerging Media for the Department of Defense to teach them how to appropriately size up what each channel offers as they develop a communication strategy.
The Army is focused on highlighting the success of specific social media campaigns.
They understand dead end tactics such as sharing silly memes or asking superficial questions unrelated to their brand will not assist in measurement.
It's about applying basic strategic fundamentals, such as pulling people into the assets you own (such as your website) to gauge effectiveness.
Enforce Posting Policy and Monitor Comments:
The U.S. Army has a structure in place to always review wall posts. Social media doesn't take a break just because it's the weekend. As they state, "A static social media presence is ineffective."
Engage The Audience:
"It's important to use social media to facilitate the conversation."
You notice how the U.S. Air Force didn't ask a question and just walk away. They actively engaged in each response. It's important to spend time responding. Too often, brands underestimate the power of acknowledgement.
Listen To The Audience:
It's not enough to just watch the comments on your brand's Facebook "Like" page or a blog to help you get a feel for what the online community wants to hear about. Pay attention to online conversations happening around your brand to gain intelligence for what fans want to talk about – not what you want to broadcast.
Build A Community:
"A large following doesn't happen overnight so relax and execute the social media strategy."
The Armed Forces is spot on with this expectation.
The "Special Forces" (Brand Advocate) programs we're building here at Jacobs Media purposely start small. The village isn't built overnight and getting to know your brand's social mouth pieces is truly one of the coolest moments you can have in radio today.
You Can't Force Trust:
Check out the latest campaign set forth by the U.S. Army.
They know the importance of having regularly updated channels of communication open, as well as consistency in the messaging – speaking in a singular voice. This is a great example of how people will learn to trust the information they get from your brand.
The security of our servicemen and women has always been of utmost importance and as you see, the U.S. Army Social Media Handbook speaks to a higher level of thinking in regards to today's cultural trends.
The more a brand can serve relationships on the consumer's preferred platforms and elevate experiences – the more you keep it in the hands (and the hearts) of the fans.
As a strategist for some of radio's greatest brands, I concur with how the Armed Forces cuts to the core of brands that might be having issues with implementing a cohesive digital and social vision:
"If you're having trouble getting everyone on the same page, you either have a training problem or a hiring problem (or maybe even both) – but technology is certainly not the problem."
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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