The Pentagon’s Perils with Social Media

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The U.S. Army is learning the hard way that effectively managing their official Twitter account can be a difficult process. On Thursday, the Army posted a tweet referencing “chinks” in special ops’ armor, and the fallout was immediate. The original tweet stated, “Chinks in special ops’ digital and physical armor pose challenges, experts say,” and the Army Times article covering the story can be found here: http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/2015/01/30/armor-pao-espn-twitter/22597847/.

In a few short years, Twitter has cemented itself as a digital media powerhouse that is quickly reshaping the social media environment and influencing how the Pentagon interacts with the American people. Personally, I don’t think the U.S. Army meant any harm with this particular tweet, but this case serves as an example of how a poorly worded headline can have lasting negative consequences to the overall reputation of the organization.

Twitter is a platform that fosters a relationship with an organization and it’s constituents, and the U.S. military is learning (sometimes the hard way) that a well planned and executed public affairs strategy is paramount to overall mission success. Many leaders within the Army quickly wrote off social media as a passing fad, but in a few short years, many have learned to embrace Twitter as another “combat multiplier” that enables the organization to reach its audience.

Many leaders think that public relations and public affairs aren’t needed to fight and win in cyberspace, but they are finding out that embracing platforms like Twitter and Facebook are keys to informing and influencing their audiences, in addition to maintaining their creditability with the American people. I believe Twitter will continue to shape the overall cyber environment, and this poorly worded tweet will serve as a great case study for future military public affairs and cyberspace warriors for years to come.

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