Friday, August 14, 2009

We live in interesting (social media) times


Last year the Air Force came barreling out of the gate on Oct. 1, launching several social media tools and Internet Sites devoted to Web. 2.0. Falling under their newly-formed department, New & Emerging Digital Technology, The U.S.A.F. led the way in all things social media.

Not to be outdone, the Department of Defense had been busy building a robust social media initiative, complete with their own (and very popular) DoD Blog, their own YouTube channel, and a model program called "The Blogger's Roundtable", which is also broadcast on Pentagon Web Radio.

Other services have been developing their own social media sites. The U.S. Navy has a very strong presence on YouTube, as does the U.S. Coast Guard. The Commandant of the Coast Guard started his own blog this past summer, and the Army have ventured into blogs and other social media sites.

Here in Oregon, a social media program was launched in January 2009, which included an official Facebook page, a YouTube page, a Flickr photo page, and the blog you see here. On April 30, the Oregon National Guard launched its official Twitter page.

Last week, several commercial news agencies reported that the Marines had banned access for their members to all social media sites. The news caused a shudder across the military and the DoD. It appeared, on the surface, that any progress that had been made may be in jeopardy.

The DoD then pushed forward with writing their official social media policy. Those documents are scheduled to be released on Sept. 30. The Departments of the Air Force and Army issued memorandums to their members which basically said, "don't stop what you're doing, but stay tuned for changes."

Now it appears the reports of the Marines' ban of social media access was wrong. In a radio interview with Federal News Radio, NextGov reporter Bob Brewin says the erroneous report was based on misinterpretation of military documents by news agencies.

As a matter of fact, Brewin said in the interview, the Marines "encourage" participation in the world of social media by their members--going as far as stating so on their official webpage.

Moreover, the DoD has launched a feedback forum to gather opinion on the importance and validity of social media. You can visit that site here. They also have a blog which helps guide DoD members and family members through the tricky world of social media. You can find that blog here.

About two weeks ago, I was asked by the National Guard Bureau to come to Washington D.C. to assist with their social media program. I will be working closely with their Chief of New Media, Mr. Rick Breitenfeldt. I look forward to the opportunity, and hope to leverage some of the policy I helped draft for the Air Force last summer to assist NGB in any way I can.

By the way, NGB is very supportive of engaging audiences via social media channels, according to this article, recently published on their official site.

While I'm away, you can expect the same quality information and news (and blog posts) across our entire Oregon National Guard social media spectrum. My esteemed colleague, Army Sgt. Eric Rutherford, will be my stand-in while I'm gone. He will start posting blogs here next Monday.

With the various services busy drafting and issuing their official policy, and the DoD working on over-arching guidance and policy of their own, the next 45 days will prove to be a very interesting time for military public affairs, how we tell our stories online, and specifically, how we communicate via social media channels.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

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