Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lunch Recap: Deploying with 'New' Gear: How the Department of Defense is Using Social Media

Yesterday was the FABULOUS CCG lunch with Price Floyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs for the Department of Defense. I can't say enough good things about this lunch and our speaker. Mr. Floyd captivated our audience for the entire presentation and Q&A session, during which he spoke about how the DoD is using social media tools to get its message to both internal and external audiences. He showed us examples of what they're doing, talked about guidelines he follows, and shared lessons learned.

  • Ask yourself four questions with any communications / outreach effort: What is the message? Who is the audience? How are you going to reach that audience? Who is the speaker?
  • "Non-approved messaging" -- i.e., letting people onto your website to publicly post comments, respond to questions, etc. -- gives credibility to the rest of your site and the content on it.
  • Make sure you TRAIN and EDUCATE your employees as to "responsible and effective" use of social media tools. One way the DoD does so is via fun (and short) videos, including a popular "what not to do" video.
  • Realize the importance of having personal voices (which can be more engaging) as well as institutional voices (which are more official). One example: On Twitter, he does this via multiple accounts -- @pricefloyd, which is his personal account and is a mix of work and personal updates, and @DefenseGov, which is the official DoD account.
  • Realize your goal... One of DoD's goals with social media was to reach a new audience. The department knew that the website audience skewed "older" (i.e., 50+), so the focus with the social media presence was to reach a new audience (i.e., 18-25).
  • Know that social media is only one component of a larger campaign. The audience on social media channels is growing, but it's still small. (For example, the viewers of the least watched Sunday talk show are more than the numbers you'll reach via social media. But they're different audiences, so you need to be reaching both.)
  • Having problems convincing the boss your company needs a social media presence? Go tell him to himself or the company. She'll see firsthand that the company likely is already there, being talked about. Then ask: "Do you want any say in what is being said about you and the company?"
  • Your social media policies and your general communications policies shouldn't be that different. What that means in the case of DoD, for example, is this: What a soldier can't include in a letter home, can't be online. In the case of companies... what you can't talk about to a reporter, shouldn't be talked about online.
  • There's nothing more credible than the voices of the people doing the work (in the case of the DoD, the people in the field). So make sure your social media voice isn't just the CEO, Senior VPs, etc.
And perhaps my favorite piece of advice from the day, which is advice he gives to DoD employees engaging in social media: "Don't post something online if it's not something you'd say to or show your boss or your grandmother."

Thanks, Mr. Floyd, for such great advice. And thank you to District Chophouse for the great location with the top-notch technology.

1 comment:

Craig Culp said...

I'm sorry to have missed what sounds like a terrific presentation. But thanks for the great recap! Having done "traditional" media for a long time, I'm always heartened when I'm reminded that the old rules still apply in new media. Most of what you talk about here looks just like the media strategies & trainings we've been doing all these years. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Almost.