Historically, the U.S. Military, branches, units and bases have been slow or resistant to integrate fads, trends and new societal norms. However, social media has been swiftly adopted and utilized as a communications tool for community outreach, crisis communication and recruiting. This happened because the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) took the lead by releasing a directive (DTM 09-026) allowing social media sites on the closed military network.
Military Guidance, Doctrine, Policy & SOPs
As discussed in How the U.S. Air Force Constructs Social Media Policy, after the DoD opened the network the individual branches had to deploy their own guidance, doctrine, and policy. Here’s what the U.S. Marine Corps’ social media policy looks like. After that, the individual units and bases had to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for social media. Once the SOPs were in place the units were free to utilize social media as a communication channel directed by Command.
Lack of Unit Level Social Media Adoption
Lack of adoption by some individual military units is not caused by the absence of guidance or doctrine. Instead, lack of adoption by units is caused by the absence of perceived value, strategy and/or technical know-how. Recognizing this, Facebook released their Building Your Presence with Facebook Pages: A Guide for Military Organizations in November of 2011.
The guide is a 10 page how-to white paper that addresses the value of Facebook to the Military and any perceived technical or strategic challenges. The assumption is that Facebook wishes to increase its use by individual Military units and bases. According to Facebook, “This guide is designed to give you the knowledge you need to set your strategy, create your Page, build and grow your audience, and optimize your message.” They communicate this in five steps:
- Intro to Facebook Pages – This area of the white paper is best described as a value proposition for the Military. It describes what can be done with a Page and identifies the unique attributes and features on a Page for use by the unit.
- Build your Facebook Page – Aside from the step by step methods of creating a Page, this section reminds units to have a strategy and a plan. It recommends developing a strategy by knowing your story, audience and goals. It also directs the reader on how to develop a posting plan.
- Grow your audience – The guide recommends growing an audience by starting with who you know, leveraging existing assets and cross-promotion to reach more people.
- Measure and refine – This section focuses on Facebook Insights for performance optimization, apps, and promotion with Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories.
- Resources – Facebook provides many links in this area of the white paper to more detailed information, terms and guidelines, social plugins, etc. It also has links to several government related Facebook Pages and concludes with its top five tips for developing a publishing strategy and creating a community dialogue.
Facebook’s whitepaper is not only a good guide for Military organizations, but it’s a great starting point for small to medium sized businesses wishing to utilize Facebook as a marketing channel. It’s complete, clear and concise, and does a good job of explaining Facebook’s value proposition. For more help with Facebook download our Facebook Marketing Cheat Sheet.