On the heels of a previous post about government and social media and in light of one of my former jobs as a Naval Officer I thought it would be good to take a look at how the U.S. Navy is currently engaging the social Web.
Helena Dobbins from over at Campbell-Ewald (U.S. Navy is a client of theirs) connected with me last week to provide some insight on various ways the Navy is utilizing social media. Turns out, a lot more than I had originally known about. Currently, the Navy has a presence on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and Ning.
* There is strong branding and a solid approach on their YouTube channel, dividing video content into various topical playlists. Though some of the videos tend to be quite long, the Featured Careers playlist provides nice insight into some of the various job opportunities the Navy has to offer. In addition, the Navy Visual News Service is definitely working hard to make sure their content is present on as many platforms as possible.
* I also like how they’ve drilled down to using a Facebook page to focus on providing information and answering questions about medical careers in the Navy with this U.S. Navy Healthcare page. For a number of reasons, brands are struggling to maximize use of Facebook but this works because it focuses specifically on targeted, niche recruitment and providing a channel for easy, immediate feedback.
* Double kudos to the Navy for their Ning-hosted Navy for Moms networking site. Moms are of course a key online demographic and Navy Moms in particular happen to be the most passionate people out there (believe me, having a father that was a Navy pilot and an older brother that was a Navy submarine officer, I can attest…they’re passionate). With nearly 13,000 members and an open forum for communication and easy networking among Moms, this site is only going to continue to flourish.
If you’ve ever used Ning, you know it can be an incredible resource for feedback and input. In particular, I found this discussion thread to be quite interesting in helping the Navy get feedback on how members have found out about their Navy Moms site. This information will certainly help them focus on key areas of the Web to bolster promotion and drive traffic back to the site.
As more and more content creators surface on the social Web, new communities similar to Navy Moms will continue to evolve. Already, random people have taken it upon themselves to create Navy Wives, Navy Dads and Navy Veterans sites. It will behoove the Navy to embrace these existing communities and engage in exisiting conversations without trying to branch off and recreate the same communities on their own for the sake of message control.
* Aside from the tools above, kudos to the Navy for setting up social media guidelines from the start to guide service members’ online engagement practices. This is an important first step that can otherwise cascade into a host of problems if not addressed from the very beginning.
All around, this is a solid approach for such a large government organization and I look forward to tracking the Navy’s future online endeavors.