The Social US Army

The US Army. An organization of 4.5 million professionals that safeguards the national and international territories. In this blogpost I certainly do not want to make any judgement about the intentions of the US Army when executing their duty, and whether it’s good or bad to show so much power in some areas of the wold. That is something everybody should make up their own opinion. No, what I do want to talk about is the way the US Army has embraced Social Media and provides soldiers to blog from their location abroad. Whether that’s a warzone or not. During Blogworld 2009 we had a short interview with a spokesman and -woman.


Rifle or keyboard
For the first time the US Army had a booth at the commercial exhibition place and looking at the sheer number of people visiting the stand it certainly was popular to talk to soldiers that so now and then replace their rifle with a keyboard. Totally against expectations the US Army has opened up blogging for a large number of US Army personnel, who can share their experiences with the rest of the world. According to their own words no filtering takes place. They even have established a new division for this: ‘the Online & Social Media Division’. “We recognize the informative power of Social Media to reach our target audience, and we are here at Blogworld to see how we can improve”, says Major Arata during our interview.

“We have a blog, Armystrongstories.com, where everybody who is interested in finding out the lives of real soldiers can come. Currently we have 56 real soldiers blogging about their lives, unfiltered”, says a passionate Major Constantino (who, by the way, kept a very close eye on the PR lady rushed to us when we were conducting the interview…). Constantino: “We make the army more human. We are not some sort of digitized machine but we are real people”.

Army gimmicks
Main question of course is how they do it, unfiltered blogging. Whereas many organization don’t want to burn even their little toe, the US Army is providing full insight. Or so they say. Honestly, I can hardy believe that a platoon somewhere deep down in Afghanistan -accidentally- throws some confidential information on the net. But apparently they don’t bother too much. Arata: “We always say: we should educate and not regulate. That means that we should provide clear guidelines en trust our people.

The biggest goal of this initiative is informing the general public about the activities of the US Army and thus increasing the ‘goodwill’. According to both spokesmen they have succeeded in that, though a lot of work still needs to be done. That -coincidentally- a new person joins the army because of the social media activities, that’s good but not the main cause. And yet, looking at their booth with all the US Army gimmicks and give-aways it did look a bit like they were attempting to bring people in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely convinced that the spokesman and -woman truly believe in the power of blogging (though Major Constantino has to start herself blogging) and I think it’s wonderful that Social Media especially here found its place.

Now, if the US Army kan blog unfiltered, what can your company do?

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