Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Military Facebook - Is it Worth it?

So there is a new study out that basically says people want Military Facebook pages but the military doesn't know how to engage very well. Or maybe it's that the military wants to engage but doesn't have the manpower to engage. I think it's a matter of both.

Janson is a PR firm that focuses on the Defense Industry. Their 17-page report can be found at their website (click on the title of this blog or go to www.jansoncom.com). Looking at nearly 700 military Facebook pages, the trends they found were pretty telling. Here is my interpretation:

-- The military would like to be engaged in the social media realm because it hits the demographic they need. After all, 40% of the Air Force is under the age of 26.

-- The Marine Corps seems to get this better than all the other services. Go figure, they are better at recruiting than any service as well. Semper Fi!

-- There is little to no interaction on the pages (84%) but the fans want it. Well, the same is true in the "real" military too. We all like it when the higher ups make us feel a part of the team -- a real part. Social media is no different.

-- 74% of location pages gave no updates on real information. This one brings up another of the military's problems -- divulging information. They want to play the game but they don't know how to effectively. Information exchange is what social media is all about but the military is traditionally tight lipped. Gonna have to loosen up and that goes against all they know.

-- On a decent note, only 4% turned into "zombie" pages, which means nothing had been updated for months. That's a good note. It's critically important to update often if you want to stay relevant.

All in all, for those of us in military Public Affairs, the Janson study didn't widen any eyes but it did give us some ammunition with the boss (they like hard facts). We want to play ball but there must be people to update the page, interact with the fans and we must be allowed to put real information on the page. Otherwise, we can just use a military internet site & avoid interaction altogether.

(Most stats and info about the study came from Military Facebook Study, Janson Communications March 2010. Air Force stats came from the Public Affairs Center of Excellence, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama)