Two years ago the military was banning access and use of social media; now they are embracing it as a way to reach new recruits. “These days, the Army is getting social – if not quite that sociable – as potential recruits increasingly spend time with social media like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube,” the New York Times reported.
The US military has had an up and down relationship with social media over the past couple of years, banning personel from using social media, yet rolling out Facebook and even MySpace pages in an attempt to reach their recruiting demographic online.
Now the Army is using comic super heroes, X-Men, to launch their first movie sponsorship deal. The Army Facebook page is offering exclusive previews and a commercial that shows how joining the army is like becoming one of the X-men.
General Freakley commanding general of both the Army Accessions Command, which oversees recruitment, and Fort Knox, Ky was candid about the changing state of web connected communications saying, “we fully recognize that young people TiVo over commercials or are multitasking on their smartphones when the commercials come on.”
But also admits that the they are “novices to using Twitter”. Communicating a sense of the diverse and challenging experiences offered by the U.S. Army seems to be a core part of their recruitment message. General Freakley goes onto describe how mobile phones are currently banned from boot camp in the first three weeks of training, a policy which may change in the future, and in turn aid the recruitment drive as new recruits tweet about all the different training activities they are undertaking.
I agree tweeting military actions should be restricted. It just makes senses not to announce your attack plans; but modern communications need to be part of any modern army, so skills should – and appear to be – developed.