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U.S. Army recruiting by tweeting

Department of Defense joins Executive branch in Web 2.0 evolution of outreach

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
July 28, 2009 | Comments (7)
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/999

Considering all the recent news centered on President Barack Obama’s social media makeover of the Executive Department—with official sites setup on Facebook, Twitter, and more—one might be misled into thinking that the young president’s foray into social media is a rare experiment for the U.S. government.

In fact, the Department of Defense too has organized its own army of social media pages on popular sites Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo, Flickr, and YouTube, all as new and advanced venues to enhance recruiting methods, according to an article published yesterday by the American Forces Press Service.

Go Army!

Instead of simply placing ads on sites that might be frequented by the Army’s key target audience—18 to 24-year olds—Army recruiters took the next step by actually creating accounts on the most popular social networking sites, establishing a total and cohesive web presence that, the government hopes, will draw in new recruits.

Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Arata, Director of the Online and Social Media Division of the U.S. Army, has been working since January of this year to build up this social media presence, according to a Facebook blog post last month.

And their efforts may already be making a difference.

Though recent reports attribute a good year in recruiting to the failing economy and lower casualty rates in Iraq, no doubt some of the rising numbers should be accounted to social media efforts. The Army’s MySpace page alone counts over 90,000 friends—connections that could have only helped recruiting.

Furthermore, as the American Forces article explains, the Army’s social ventures not only serve as advertisement for recruiting, but also provide U.S. citizens with a clearer view into the life of the ordinary soldier.

Before, Army recruitment advertising usually involved an incredibly dramatic 30-second TV spot with the recruiting Web site displayed at the end. Now, through social sites likeRay Odierno Facebook and Twitter, the interaction goes multiple ways, bringing together officers, soldiers, their relatives, and potential new recruits in a rich discussion of the Army news and life in the service.

“The more people know about the Army, and the more they know about the reality of the Army, the better they will be equipped to make that decision to join,” said Suzanne Nagel, Army Accessions Command’s media and Web chief for Army advertising.

Once again, one-way advertising bows out under pressure from social media, which continually paves the way for uniting people with similar interests.


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Comments

Gary Silver
Gary Silver, on July 29, 2009

You have to give them credit for keeping up with technology and trends for recruiting, but the military and social networking seem to make strange bedfellows. I wonder how much facebooking and tweeting soldiers are allowed to do while on-duty?


Ronny Kerr
Ronny Kerr, on July 29, 2009

@Gary: According to a Wired report (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/06/army-orders-bases-stop-blocking-twitter-facebook-flickr/) published last month, the Army has indeed relaxed its grip on usage of Web 2.0 sites, apparently with the same intention as its own use of Facebook and Twitter. They actually want their soldiers to talk about their service--as long as the information is unclassified--so that people back home can get a real glimpse into army life.


Gary Silver
Gary Silver, on July 29, 2009

@Ronny: "I'm in a foxhole in an undisclosed location. I can hear the foreign voices of the enemy closing in around me. There is a hole in my left thigh running blood. I'm down to my last round of ammo". Oh, wait, that's what it's like in my office.


Gary Silver
Gary Silver, on July 29, 2009

@mom: I hear my rescue helicopter approaching. I'm going to pop out and start blasting. Don't worry about me. Love your son. P.S. send more cookies.


Brenda Powell
Brenda Powell, on July 29, 2009

Great blog. Even the Military Health System has added social networking tools including Twitter, MySpace and YouTube in a push to engage more of the individuals it serves -- the 18- to 24-year-olds who make up a large portion of the more than 1.4 million troops on active duty. Great article about it: http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20090608_8178.php


Ronny Kerr
Ronny Kerr, on July 30, 2009

@Brenda: Thanks for the article! It's great to see Web site owners realizing that the Internet has, for awhile now, been a place where the only survivors are those who stay away from stagnancy.
@Gary: Haha! You gave me a much needed laugh earlier today with those faux-tweets...


Gary Silver
Gary Silver, on August 5, 2009

Marines say private computer use outside job OK, but not military network: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32283587/ns/technology_and_science-security/


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