Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen published his 2010 social media strategy recently. The memo includes specific guidance and goals for the Joint Chiefs’ usage of social media which began in April 2009 with Admiral Mullen’s Twitter account. “Currently, these social media sites are used primarily to replicate content on the Joint Staff website, official releases, and Pentagon Channel videos.”
The new new policy memo acknowledges that “while great effort is made to repurpose existing products and Joint Staff processes into content for the social media sites, it is a fairly stove-piped operation.” Overall, the Chairman uses his social media presence to broadcast information and gather commentary for anecdotal evidence of message effectiveness, as well as tracking discussion trends on specific policy issues.
The two main obstacles to achieving the goals of the Joint Chiefs are (as per the memo):
- How can aides be active in social media without impersonating the Chairman online, which would destroy the credibility of the whole effort?
- How can DoD deal with the volume of comments, inquires, and questions that are posted to the sites?
While both represent unique challenges of a public figure on social media, DoD maintains “they are not insurmountable,” and the memorandum contains four objectives:
- ENGAGE -DoD wants to engage in “interactive conversations with our followers” and plans to post more personalized content about the Chairman.
- ALIGN -Admiral Mullen wants to use social media aggressively for messaging purposes, and plans to align content creation for social media with his Top 3 Priorities, and social media content will be brought in line with current Joint Staff processes and products, involving the entire public affairs shop, speech writers, editors, CAG, and Aides.
- DRIVE – Admiral Mullen wants to use social media to “lead the discussion and focus questions,” in line with the recommendations on “narrative conflict” in the Joint Operating Environment report.
- EXPAND – Just like pretty much everyone else, one thing that the Joint Chiefs are sure about expanding their social media presence.
Each objective has its own list of action items to be achieved by September ’10. Noteworthy goals for “Engage” include giving OCJCS PA Outreach and Operations personnel their own official Facebook profile, rolling social media queries into the existing CART system and developing a standardized process for public engagement via social media through Action Control Branch of SJS. Also, video capabilities are being upgraded, including improved video outreach for schools and Joint Chiefs travel.
For “Align,” the Chairman plans to incorporate social media into his travel planning and transfer birthday notices and other “pronouncements” to online media, and for “Drive” he plans to use Twitter and blog posts strategically to advocate ideas advanced through his speeches.
Finally, Admiral Mullen has set tough goals for the Joint Chiefs’ social media presence, shooting for 13,000 Facebook fans and 25,000 Twitter followers.
While the jury is still out on whether the Joint Chiefs will meet their ambitious goals for their use of social media, at least they are moving forward with a comprehensive, well-articulated strategy.