I attended the Military Blogging conference to
- learn about military, retired military, and military support groups who use of social media
- meet people who represent groups that help military families.
A summary of my observations are:
- Military bloggers are passionate, as you would expect.
- Military bloggers who began blogging in 2002 and 2003 were leaders and drove a grass roots movement that led to identifying military bloggers in a loosely structured group, but tightly connected and networked individuals. The blog sites are aggregated on the Military Blogging web site.
- Thousands of non-profit organizations serve military, soldiers, veterans, and families.
- Throughout this community of military bloggers, they all have a sense of responsibility toward families.
- As military families engage, the expression and sharing of small frustrations is often what ties military spouses together, regardless of their location.
- Social media has enabled a community of individuals who are passionate about the military to form tight bonds of respect, admiration, trust, expectations, and influence among this community.
- Over time, these bloggers have become influential not only among their own online communities, but also in making a difference in perceptions, policy, and legislation.
- One reason for their influence is that blogging has moved to, and is encouraged, by soldiers and others to tell real stories.
- Though some of the early bloggers, started blogging anonymous, now it seems that there is not a concern of separating personal life and professional life online. In fact, telling own personal stories are encouraged.
- @pricefloyd, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, says that military needs more conversations on topics about the military. Does not mean that mistakes will not be made and that mistakes that have been made are not more harmful than other mistakes.
- Military leaders at this conference understand how two-way and multi-way engagement becomes powerful.
- Social media is not only used to disseminate but also to engage to learn, and possibly change, leaders’ approacha and behavior.
- @pricefloyd says that having dissenting comments and points of view that do not have approval gives more credibility to the engagement.
- Military uses 3rd party sites so the world can read and interact and tell stories first hand reports from the troops.
- The approach is to encourage people throughout the military to “go out and tell their stories”. Military leaders know that those online are professionals and “will do the right thing”.
- Army leaders encourage individuals to blog on their own sites and link and cross link to the army blog site. They don’t care about negative articles or positive article, but they care that bloggers tell accurate stories.
- The military has to use both traditional and new media.
- The leaders see that criticisms are good because it means others are reading the blogs and gives something for them to learn. Negative criticisms will stay blogs unless it is overly obscene.
This conference has been one that is somewhat out of my element. It is refreshing to hear from leaders of the military who “get social media”, understand how
- conflicting opinions are ways to learn and adjust.
- personal accounts can be powerful ways to tell the military story.
- engagement leads to learning and improving
- trusting people throughout the military to do the right thing without posting strict rules is a good way to capitalize personalized stories.
- grass-roots connections build credibility and trust.
All day, I keep thinking that if the military can trust their people to do the right thing and find value in dissenting comments, why aren’t more educational institutions in-tuned to the value of learning and improving based on the freedom of engagement.
Photo is embedded from http://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/1360677126/