New Rules: 2011 U.S. Army Social Media Handbook

This summary of the U.S. Army’s new, Social Media Book comes from My continued thanks for the site’s ongoing effort to index military blogs.

Last year, the Online and Social Media Division helped produce the 2010 Social Media Book. While this is an excellent product, it only scratched the surface of Army social media use. We decided it was time to produce a document that provided more guidance, additional case studies and more advanced tips and best practices.

So here it is, the 2011 Army Social Media Handbook! This document provides extensive social media guidance. It contains information for Army leaders, guidance for Army Families, operations security tips, branding information, checklists, regulations and frequently asked questions.

The handbook covers a range of topics of interest for Soldiers.  Topics include a checklist for setting up a social media presence to social media standards for Army leaders.

MG Stephen Lanza opens the handbook with a clear message of embracing social media.  “Social media is another set of tools that helps us spread the Army message faster than ever.  These tools not only help us to respond to a 24-hour news cycle, but also help us lead conversations and participate in the stories.  By reaching out to the online community, we’re able to be where more and more people get their news, and by doing so, we’re better serving our warfighters”, he writes.

One of the most important things in the handbook is knowing what a Soldier can and cannot do when using various social media platforms like Facebook or blogs.

Although it boils down to Unit level policy, the handbook states Soldiers should follow the UCMJ, as a rule-of-thumb.  “It’s important that all Soldiers know that once they log on to a social media platform, they still represent the Army.”

The handbook goes into other hot subject areas like OPSEC, and even discusses geotagging and location-based social networking, which became a security concern in 2010 not only for U.S. troops, but also for foreign military forces.

In total, the handbook is just under 40 pages.  And although this centralized information wasn’t easily available just a few years ago, it’s definitely good to see the Army’s commitment to continually improving its policy on social media.

For a copy of the 2011 U.S. Army Social Media Handbook click here.

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