Potential army recruits – young Americans ages 17 to 24 – are spending more time these days on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube. In response, the U.S. Army has begun to dedicate some serious effort to their online and social media presence.
Their latest commercials discuss the significance of the Army uniform and ask viewers to “Try it on at goarmy.com.” According to The New York Times, this direction toward the web “underlines the concentration on digital media for the campaign.”
The Army has already been using video clips, blogs and armystrongstories.com to connect potential recruits “with real soldiers.” The hope is that social media will continue to facilitate direct conversations with those who have already enlisted, allowing recruits to “understand what it means to be in the Army,” according to Jason Culbertson of MRM, one of seven agencies working on the Army account.
Now, the Army is utilizing social media to promote their first sponsorship deal with a Hollywood film, “X-Men: First Class,” to be released on June 3. The Army Facebook page (facebook.com/goarmy), invites visitors to watch a trailer for the film, scroll through an image gallery, and view more exclusive content. As the official fan page for goarmy.com, this Facebook page has over 115,000 fans to date.
Progress has been a bit slower on Twitter for the Army recruitment efforts. The @GoArmy account has just over 3,100 followers, significantly behind @USArmy (the main Army account) with nearly 75,000 followers. The New York Times quotes General Freakley, commanding general of the Army Accessions Command (which oversees recruitment) – those at the Army Command “are novices at using Twitter.” He would like for recruits to some day tweet about the exciting elements of basic training, but according to current rules, mobile phones are taken away during these first three weeks.
An increased focus on using social and other digital media has led a significant decline in the Army’s spending for ads in major media. According to the Kantar Media unit of WPP, major media ad spending has dropped from $168.7 million in 2007 down to just $41.8 million last year.
As more digital-savvy recruits join the Army, one can only expect to see social and digital media efforts continue to expand.