Disclaimer: This theory of mine is only mine, and is not the thinking or policy of the US Navy or NATO. Further more, this is only the second time I’ve even mentioned my thoughts below to anyone. I am not Public Affairs trained, and so I am probably very, very wrong in all that I say… 

To read the first part of this series click here.

Part four: The People (or, attention is demanded,¬†content is king, and it’s hard to smell roses).

Three people, at the very least, is required to manage a robust and content diverse social media profile. This requirement is temporality based, with one person focusing on new content, one for posting content and being the person behind the profile(s), and another for gathering and monitoring metrics derived from the effort.

The biggest driver behind this requirement is the amount of attention demanded in participating in social media. Many simply stop at posting content on social media. Where as doing so only counts (at most) for ~30% of what can/should be done on social media. For instance, the last two years have seen a major push by news organizations (namely newspapers)¬†to make their content more social. Dependent upon the sentiment of the news stories or other variables (e.g., is there anything in the story that was incorrect, is there¬†supplemental information that could be provided to audiences that didn’t otherwise fit into the news story, is there any sentiment worth underscoring)¬†there can be a major benefit to engaging audiences discussing news of your organization. Such an effort can consume significant amounts of time, which in turn precludes the ability of a single person to additionally create content unique to the organization, or to run metrics which accurately capture and demonstrate what resulted from the effort.

An additional thing worth mentioning is regarding participation in social media. I only wish to touch on it briefly (Though, itself deserves a thousand words). The person actually participating in social media is a spokesperson on par with, and every bit important as a media spokesperson. The skill sets for each differ significantly, each demanding in their own ways. Increasingly a social media spokesperson is becoming as important as the traditional media spokesperson.

If roughly 30% of one’s time is consumed by sharing ‘new’ or original content (more on original content later), and roughly 30% is consumed by participating in commenting on news; the remaning 30-ish percent is spent engaging with audiences at the organization’s social media profiles. The effort spread across these three areas, is beyond any notion of ‘branding’. Instead this time is spent establishing the organization’s culture for the audience (I will expand upon this notion in greater detail in a later post).

Lastly, the social media spokesperson is not be a nine-to-five job. It really should be treated 24/7, especially if your organization spans across time zones and cultures. With a worldwide audience, part of your audience is awake and talking about things while you sleep. This is not to say that the spokesperson can’t sleep, or can’t take a break. Rather, this is to say that a shift in mindset as to what it means to be ‘at work’ is necessary. Just as those who use social media for personal reason post casually through-out the day and night, regardless if it is the weekend or not; so too must the spokesperson, only with more earnest goals and objectives for their effort. An additional remedy is to look at who the audience is, and with enough time and though, understanding the rhythm at which the conversation flows.

In consideration of the demands outlined above, another person must be dedicated to original content creation. It is very easy to be a content aggregator online (also known as sharing on facebook, or retweeting on twitter). To a certain extent it is necessary to share content relevant to, but not created by, your organization (George Takei has earned himself over 3 million followers by aggregating content created by others). However, sharing and retweeting of content not created by an organization cannot fully define what the organization is. Thus, original content is necessary, and should be produced in quantities that adequately compliments the shares and retweets.

Doing this is a fulltime job that can quickly demand a number of disparate skills. Graphics, videos, stories, and memes (of all¬†varieties) are labor intensive and time sensitive. But, it is original content that anchors any message on social media to a desired course. Without original content an organization’s message is dependent on the whims of others that cannot be fully controlled, leaving an organization’s¬†narrative¬†ill defined.

Having a blend of shared and original content, and having participated in the discourse, an organization still needs to know what resulted from the effort. To adequately measure the effort a third person, not apart of creation or engagement, is necessary. The amount of data generated on social media is massive and available in near real-time. Pure numbers are easy–if you want to measure how many ‘likes’ you got in a given amount of time, it’s no problem to look at the graphs provided by facebook, or any third party service. But, as I said in my previous post, the true power of social media is ‘in between the lines’.

Of all the types of analysis there is for social media one continually defies any attempts to automate: sentiment analysis, especially when the discourse spans¬†multiple¬†languages. Sentiment analysis is vital since a profile can increase in popularity for bad reasons as easily as it can for good. If your organization wishes to be a strong advocate for something, the number of likes, shares, or retweets will not inform you if you have been successful in its advocation. Think of it this way: When do you personally talk about something with your friends, or with strangers? When you really like something, or when you really don’t? Across society it probably cuts close to 50/50 between those who tend to talk about a topic in a negatively and those who tend towards positive context. Thus any volume metric (numbers of things) does not give the full picture–deeper analysis is demanded.¬†‘Semantic based analysis’ (Not sure if that is a real term or not. But, it makes sense to term it as such, in my mind at least) is the only way to get a true sense of an organization’s accomplishments on social media.

Such semantic based analysis must include content outside pure social media (i.e. other mediums), and delve into news sources (including newspapers, televised news, magazines), blogs, and¬†conceivably anywhere the organization might be discussed. Observing the effects in other mediums is vital, because such semantic analysis does not meet the criteria for¬†Godel’s Completeness theorem, but does for his second Incompleteness Theorem–multiple cultures, multiple languages, spread across multiple (if not all) time zones add so many semantic variables that logical deduction, derived from number of likes, shares and the rest, is not possible. To verify the¬†consistency, validness, and soundness of an organization’s use of social media the effects in mediums other than social media is demanded.

To be honest, even in my professional use of social media, I have not been able to follow the above guidelines exactly. But, from what I have been able to do as a part of a social media team, I have come to understand the necessity of all I said above. With social media being as new as it is, with new capabilities to measure an organization’s effects nearly every day, there is always more to be done. What constantly amazes me is how we as a species are able to do things of our own device and yet hardly understand what we’re doing at all–fascinating and troubling all at the same time.

Again, we’re well past a thousand words. So, I will leave this post where it is. More to come later next week.¬†I think some of the comments got lost in the migration to Discus. Apologies for that, I promise I am reading the comments and will participate in them.

 

 




Posted by CTR1(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III in Soft Power, Tactics, Uncategorized
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  • http://thepressuresoftime.blogspot.com Benjamin Walthrop

    Sounds to me like you’re describing a rice bowl with that division of labor. I know I said that social media hadn’t changed very much in my last post, but I think the USN can do better at this effort. It all has to do with flattening the information pyramid even further than the technological advances have naturally allowed. IOW, it’s a matter of policy rather than technology. Think of it this way. In WWII there were narrow pipes and vast distances in the Pacific theater. It seems to me that quite a bit of discretion based on commanders intent was not only allowed, but encouraged.

    Now there are broad (and fast) pipes combined with great distance. Some of these pipes go both ways (I suspect). My prescription would be to go back to commanders intent with pretty broad monitoring of the other sources of information. You could easily delegate the monitoring and response function at least down to the DIVO or CPO levels with limited risk and quite a bit of upside. There’d be spot checks and zone inspections. We should be doing them on ships. Why not the IO/SM (Social Media) environment? Would there be some level of risk? Sure. Welcome to leadership in the USN. I think it could be made to work and be a great way to communicate empowerment to the correct leadership levels.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270483584 H Lucien Gauthier III

      No, I wouldn’t say I am advocating for anyone to have their own rice bowl. Rather, that one person have point for the past, present, and future. One person can’t do all three, especially the person who is posting content.

      In terms of ranks doing all this… I don’t see why anyone above an O-3 needs to be involved. In reality, I’m an E-5 who regularly posts content to the ACO page.

      Even for the CNO, there’s no need to have anyone above an O-3 involved with the day-to-day of running a social media platform. In terms of posting content, rank is irrelevant and personality is everything.

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