The Navy Takes on Social Media. Again.

The U.S. Navy has produced a social media handbook (1.1MB PDF) for their ombudsmans to use in, you know, engaging the public and reminding them how totally awesome the Navy is.

Only the intent actually seems to be a little different, this time – to connect with Sailors, and their families – especially their families – and remind them how totally awesome the Navy is.

On one hand, I think this is really to be commended, when viewed in light of some other commands’ (former) policies of proactive “social media engagement”, which was all about information control and spreading, evangelist-style, the “good news” about our nation’s (Soldiers | Marines | Airmen) and the important and entirely successful things they’re doing. The Army in particular were really bad about basically trolling the blogosphere with gung-ho propaganda, so it’s nice to see a branch of the military adopt a less adversarial stance for a change.

On the other hand, this tiny little feel-good booklet of guidance leaves one with that special, slightly creeped-out feeling that most military publications about “social media” and “emerging media” usually produce. One of the FAQs, for example, is “Our Sailors have been extended on deployment and the families are not happy. There is a very negative feel to our social media presence right now. What do I do?”, and the answer begins “First off, do not get discouraged and DO NOT close the page. Closing the page will only result in your families creating alternative presence(s) to continue complaining and you will have less opportunity to understand or influence this conversation.” (Bolded emphasis mine, though the ALL CAPS bit is the Navy’s.)

How much “opportunity” do you need to understand why family members are pissed when deployments are extended? And how are you supposed to “influence the conversation” without just coming right out and calling the complainers self-absorbed? Beats me; they forgot to put that part of the instruction online, apparently…

Published in: General | on August 10th, 2010| Comments Off on The Navy Takes on Social Media. Again.

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