How the Marine Corps Empowered Online Ambassadors through Social Media Policy [Case Study]

military social media rules
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and U.S. Army Gens. Burwell

Making the Marine Corps Social Media Policy was as political as it was practical.

To integrate shared social media into wartime communications, the US Department of Defense made a public affairs decision to relax their military social media rules and prohibit command from blocking access to social media indefinitely on their nonclassified network.

Getting that done for a classic command and control organization was politically challenging.

So, as service members respect military social media rules, protect their personal information, and are careful not to share sensitive information on a Facebook page or use digital cameras to inadvertently share images on location-based social networking sites that preserve geodata, the benefits of social media outweigh the operations security risk.

I spoke with Jack Holt, director of emerging media at the US Dept. of Defense for a podcast and this audio transcript of our discussion covers the path that led the Pentagon to shift from a traditional command and control strategy to a more adaptive, networked hierarchy when it comes to public affairs on social media sites.

Regarding information operations, Al Queda was already using YouTube as a related capability. Still, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy, Adm. Mike Mullen, knew the DoD’s public affairs process was too cumbersome to permit participation in real-time conversations on social media.

“We’re in the churning point, [and we’re moving] from hierarchical to networked structure,” says Jack Holt, director of emerging media at the US Dept. of Defense, who I sat down with in DC for this exclusive interview.

According to Jack, when it comes to social media, DoD is moving from command and control to a more distributed network communication hierarchy, a move that depends heavily on teaching service members not so much about digital marketing skills but rather the path to peace in a networked world.

Beyond public relations agencies and public affairs commands began using social media for strategic communications, the larger opportunity social media networked information technology presents is the ability to better manage knowledge inside the organization, and better preserve intelligence in an organization where service members frequently transition in and out of different operations and commands.

Social media is also a critical information operations-related capability.

Social Media Governance Topics Covered:

  • The Blogger Roundtable at DoD Live
  • Social media training
  • Al Qaeda’s online effectiveness
  • Use of video during the Gaza Flotilla Raid
  • Weighing the risks of speed versus accuracy

Podcasts about Military Social Media Ambassador Programs:

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