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Is The US Military More Social Media Savvy Than You?

DOD Social Media Hub

This post is in honor of all our US Veterans, especially my dad, who served in the US Army. Thank you for our freedom.

While at BlogWorld last week, I had the pleasure of listening to Shel Holtz discuss the importance of social media openness in the workplace.

Shel presented a variety of statistics around how those companies who actively train their employees in social media AND give open access to sites like Facebook and Twitter, are most often the highest performing companies and, to some people’s surprise, are the most productive.

The best example of this was, strangely enough, the US Military. Jack Holt, Senior Strategist for Emerging Media for the US Department of Defense (DoD), has helped lead an amazing movement within the Military on leveraging social communications (here is their social media hub).

In this excellent podcast, Jack chats with Shel about why it was so important for the US Military to embrace social media early on.  Some outtakes include:

  • Back in 2006, Jack and team were already aware of soldiers who were already active in social media.  The genie was already out of the bottle.  They believed it was impossible to stop soldiers use of social media.
  • The US Military already trained soldiers how to maneuver the land, sea and sky.  Why couldn’t they effectively train soldiers how to use social media and properly share their story?
  • When mistakes happen (like viruses, lack of productivity, privacy issues and bandwidth concerns), it’s not a technology issue, it’s a human behavior issue.  As both Shel and Jack point out, either you have a training problem or a hiring problem…that’s it. It’s not the technology.
  • The Military realized that the use of social media by soldiers made the most impact on their families.  The DoD came to believe that if it’s important for the families, social media interaction and sharing affects the friends of families and on and on, thus affecting everyone in some way.

The last five minutes of the podcast were the most interesting from a corporate standpoint.  Jack went into some detail about the rise of the Roman empire and their ability to create commerce.  In Jack’s opinion, nothing fostered that more than when the Roman’s invested in and built roads.

Jack believes that is what’s possible with social media. The more a company can create more online roads, communication opportunities and interactions, the more possibilities there are for commerce. Ultimately, consumers will be buying differently depending on how you communicate with them online.  Great stuff (I love that the guy from the DoD makes the case for corporate commerce and social media).

So, this is how the command and control military treats their social media.  How about you?

For more detailed information, here is a great article from the DoD on how they handle privacy issues and training.

Thanks Shel Holtz for sharing this important message!