A Comprehensive Analysis of the US Army on Facebook

Many of our loyal fans know that we have had the honor to be working with members of the U.S. military for much of the last year or two.  We have learned much about ourselves, the world and the sacrifices so many young men and women make for our country, and we are grateful.

Over the last few months, our analysts conducted an assessment of military-use of social media that has been presented to the Pentagon — with a few excerpts and insights available here for your review.  Like just about every other organization or company in the world, it is fair to say that the Army really doesn’t own the Army brand — “we do.”  While that might be easy for me to say, we think our point becomes more clear with the following illustration that represents the “U.S. Army’s Brand” presence on just one of the social platforms, Facebook.  Each of the colored spheres within the Army’s ORBIT-map depicted below represents one of the 100-plus Facebook pages and groups dedicated to Army business.  Think about it, every sphere below has an owner or group of owners communicating to thousands, or millions in some cases, of their fans about Army business whenever they want.  Some of these may be official channels, most are not.

I’d argue that at an absolute minimum, every organization on-line should have a similar map and understanding — whether the brand is GE, Harvard or Nestle — knowing what they’re saying about you, who’s organizing for or against your brand (and what to do about it) is business critical in 2010.

So, when it comes to the Army on Facebook, here are ten things we think are worth knowing —

1. By an order of magnitude, the largest groups and pages related to the Army are those supporting the troops.  The largest of these pages (Support Our Troops)  has close to 1.5 million members, and a few others have well over 100,000.  Outside of the “support the troops” pages, only the official reason US Army page has more than 100,000 members;

2. In general, the large troop support pages fall into the pattern of being somewhat active but not engaged, meaning that they get a relatively high volume of comments and posts for their size, but there is very little interaction surrounding that high volume of postings.  For the most part, they come in the form of a page fan or group member leaving a note or post, and no one commenting on the post or “liking” it.  For groups of this size, that is uncommon;

3. Benchmarked to the Marine Corps official Facebook page, the Army page has room to grow, and could become more engaging.  The USMC’s official page has more fans (235,000 compared to 147,000); the Army is more active in updating its page with official posts – the Army updates close to daily while the USMC updates about once a week.  Still, even benchmarked to its size, the USMC’s page is more engaging, with over 1,000 interactions for every post (with many over 2,000), compared to most Army posts which end up in the hundreds;

4. A major difference exists in the way that the US Army and the USMC handle their default settings on their official pages.  The default view for the US Army page is for the page’s wall to feature the posts from both fans and official posts from the US Army; with dozens of posts per day, official Army posts get lost very easily.  The USMC’s default setting is to have only official posts from the USMC show up on the main wall.  As such, when one logs into the USMC page, the official postings are the first things visitors see.  The Air Force’s official page follows the USMC format as well;

5. The US Army’s official main recruiting presence is far and away the largest of the four branches.  Navy’s recruiting has just over 1,000 members and comes in the form of messages from “Commander, Navy Recruiting,” and the Marine Corps and Air Force roll their recruiting into their main pages.  For a page of its size (28,000), the activity level associated with the official Army recruiting page is relatively high.  For its size, the Navy’s interactions are relatively low;

6. There are dozens of individual recruiting station pages that greatly vary in size. Still, most have less than 100 members, and are not particularly active in terms of posting content.  One recruiting station stands out those both in terms of how they are using their Facebook page, its size, and the tone of postings.  The Army Recruiting WilkesBarre stands out because it is the largest with over 1,000 fans, and the most active in terms of both posting and trying new and engaging techniques for getting content and engaging fans.  An example is their posting pictures of new recruits in photo albums called “Future Soldiers.”

7. Individual commanders are using Facebook as well to open up discussions about installations and their units.  While these officers do not have large followings (most number in the few hundreds), they are trying to engage.  An example is Lt. General Frank Helmick, whose official fan page links directly to a discussion forum where he’s asking questions of his fans, “What is the dumbest thing we do at Fort Bragg?” and “How do you get information about Fort Bragg?”

8. Relatively speaking, the amount of activity surrounding protests of the Iraq war is relatively small compared to the troop support and the official presences of the Army.  The two largest groups both set out with the goal of attracting over a million members and have 31,437 and 25,790 respectively.  Additionally, these pages for the most part are relatively inactive with little activity relative to their size;

9. The activity surrounding wounded and fallen soldiers falls into two main categories.  First, for wounded warriors, the activity is centralized around a) the Wounded Warrior Project’s official Facebook page, which has over 93,000 members; and b) its Facebook Cause, which has over 163,000 members and has raised $39,229 –with engagement and activity levels on par with the US Army’s official page.  

The second group of pages are those for fallen soldiers, which, though not as large individually as the Wounded Warrior Project’s official page, do have individual pages that reach into the tens of thousands;

10. Individual units and bases vary greatly in their size. The two largest, Fort Benning and Special Operations Command both have around 10,000 fans and follow the same basic formula:  updates at least once a day, a combination of posts that are posting of human and general interest items along with useful news about services, and active posted media – both official and fan generated.

Cross posted from SocialSphere

Tagged , ,

One thought on “A Comprehensive Analysis of the US Army on Facebook

  1. Thanks for sharing this information, its very helpful of you. You’re absolutely right in saying: “…whether the brand is GE, Harvard or Nestle — knowing what they’re saying about you, who’s organizing for or against your brand (and what to do about it) is business critical in 2010.”
    Many companies still think this is just a fad and they don’t need to engage. Posts like this clearly show the need to participate. Thanks again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: