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)

1 comment:

  1. Jenny-loved your analysis of our report. I was the lead on the project.

    Of note, the Marine's actually aren't the leading service in Facebook. That was clearly the Army who had about 70% of the pages we found. The USMC Recruiting page is actually mistitled as the "Official" USMC page and does have the most fans of any page but that was the only category they lead in.

    On zombie pages, there were a lot more than the 4% but we just excluded them from the data set as it was skewing the data and we wanted to get a clearer sampling. Clearly, many organizations set up sites and the admin moved or they never got past establishing the account. There were also a number of Marine sites unfortunately that had gone into limbo after FB was blocked last fall.

    Over all the most critical take away for me was that 84% lack of interaction. There is a lot of great info being posted but most page owners are just posting but not conversing. It misses a great opportunity to engage when questions go unanswered or incorrect comments go uncorrected.

    Again, glad you liked the study!