Farmer print category d_41st fires brigade_social media program

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Information about Farmer print category d_41st fires brigade_social media program

Published on February 26, 2014

Author: 41stFiresBrigade


Major General Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Competition Award Submission for Category D: Outstanding Initiative in New Media 41st Fires Brigade Fort Hood, Texas

Table of Contents Page 1 Table of Contents Page 2 Submission Form Page 3 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office Page 4 Audience Page 6 Goals: Near term & Long term Page 8 Facebook Page 22 Flickr -1-

Award Submission Form -2-

41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office The 41st Fires Brigade public affairs office consists of one officer and one NCO. CPT Farmer, the current PAO, is the first officer to hold this position in several years. In the past, the NCO, operating in a singular capacity, was able to maintain a decent flow of stories, photos and meager updates to the Facebook page. With only one person working in the office, maintaining a robust social media program fell to the bottom of the priority list. When CPT Farmer came on board in April 2013 all of that changed. The public affairs office was now able to focus on more than just stories and photos. Due to the hard work of both CPT Farmer and SGT Hernandez and a full-blown reprioritization of effort, the 41st Fires Brigade social media program was fully launched in June 2013 and has been gaining momentum ever since. -3-

Audience We communicate primarily with our Internal audience, which we have divided up into three sub-groups: Soldiers, families, and veterans. Facebook Insights shows that we are split fairly equally between men and women in our fan base. Our content is generally broad enough that our external audience in the local Fort Hood area could appreciate what we post, but we see very little traffic from people who aren’t tied to the Military, or our brigade, somehow. Initially, our plan was to differentiate between our three groups and target them separately with different types of posts on Facebook. However, it became readily apparent that the groups were equally interactive regardless of the type of post. This is a relative generalization, and it’s important because we learned that it wasn’t necessary to tailor different types of posts for our different audiences. -4-

Audience – Facebook In June 2013, we had approximately 1,600 Facebook fans. Six months later, we reached 1,800. This may not seem like a huge climb, but you have to take in to account the fact that during that 6 month timeframe we were not only gaining fans, but losing them along the way. This is strong indicator that we are doing something right on our page since our followers continue to grow. We continue to remain flexible and adaptable within the social media realm as it is a fluid environment. -5-

Goals: Near-term & Long-term Our short term goal for our two primary social media platforms (Facebook and Flickr) is to engage with our key audiences to build rapport and establish ourselves as a reputable presence online. This nests directly into our long-term goal, which is to cultivate a longstanding measure of trust in the content we produce. We want our fans to be engaged with what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis so as to build their trust in us as an organization. Trust in our content leads directly to trust in us as an organization. It is important, and indeed directly in line with our commander’s intent, that the 41st Fires Brigade be seen as an elite and professional organization. Using that as the backdrop for our social media program, we work hard to ensure that every post and piece of content conveys that message. -6-

Goals: Near-term & Long-term Every Facebook message, every comment on a post, and every time someone interacts with us online, we make a concerted effort to respond and engage as soon as possible. Our goal is not for our platforms to become ghost ships, but to be pages where people know they can find answers and enjoy the content production as well. -7-

Facebook -8-

Facebook In June 2013, we sat down and put some thought into how best to reach our audience, how to engage them and how to build and establish trust and rapport. In order to do this, we created a social media framework in which we scheduled very specific posts for specific days. This framework helped guide what we posted and when we posted. It’s important to note and also a great AAR comment that much of the framework we created was based on information gathered from the Army’s many Social Media Round-up slides on the Army’s Slideshare account. We knew the code had already been cracked on a lot of this so we took what was applicable and used it for our own organization. -9-

Facebook – Social Media Framework Quote of the Week Motivational quotes from historical figures. Army / leadership related, not necessarily artillery or cavalry. *published in the afternoon Question of the Week The question of the week is designed to generate feedback and interaction on the brigade Facebook page. The questions will be a mix of professional / humorous questions. This is also a great way to get a sense of what is on our Soldier’s minds. Examples of some questions: 1) If you could add one event to the APFT, what would it be? 2) What is your favorite artillery piece and why? (i.e. Paladin vs. M777 vs. MLRS, etc.) 3) What is the best Division in the Army and why? 4) If you could go to one Army school (i.e. Airborne, Master Gunner, Ranger, etc.), which one would you go to? Why? *published in the morning of the first working day of the week - 10 -

Facebook – Social Media Framework Professional Development Reading The professional reading posts are articles that either pertain directly to Field Artillery or news that’s relevant to the Military in general (i.e. women in combat, DADT, Sequester, etc.). The intent is twofold: 1) continue to display a professional image of the brigade on our social network 2) engage our “fans” and encourage professional discussion in an open forum *published in the morning, mid-week (Tue or Wed) Video of the Week Very similar in scope to the professional reading posts, videos posted will be relevant to artillery or the Military as a whole. *published in the afternoon, mid-week (Wed or Thurs) - 11 -

Facebook – Social Media Framework Weekend Safety Message Safety message at the end of the working week; can be anything from a oneliner to be safe while boating, to a full-on flyer for summer safety. *published in the afternoon of the last working day at the end of the work week Photo of the Day One photo, linked to a Flickr album, posted on the Facebook page as our photo of the day. Intent is to show that we are actively engaged on our page and that people can expect some quality photos from us. *published in the afternoon Special Occasion Postings This category of specific Facebook posts pertains to holidays, special events, announcements, etc (i.e. 4th of July, Brigade Golf Tournament, Army Birthday, etc.). These posts will be worked into the other weekly posts and de-conflicted throughout the week so as to prevent congestion with our online content. - 12 -

Facebook The benefit of the framework was that it allowed us to track progress through some basic metrics. We chose not to rely solely on Facebook’s metrics since we were interested in how each of the specific posts were doing. In order to measure success, we used Views, Likes and Comments as ways to follow the success or failure of a certain type of post with Views being our primary tracking mechanism. We looked at past posts to create a numerical color scheme that would help us determine whether or not a post was successful (see bottom right hand of Figure 1 on following slide). At the end of every week, we input the numbers from the views, comments and likes for each specific post (as seen below in Figure 1). This became extremely helpful for us as we moved through the quarter. About 4-6 weeks in to our tracking, we were able to start seeing patterns in the data and began adjusting our posts accordingly. As we came to the end of the 4th Quarter, we realized that our viewership was tapering off and we weren’t sure why. So, we decided we needed to change things up on our Facebook page as we moved into the 1st Quarter. - 13 -

Facebook (fig. 1) 4th Quarter, FY 2013 Facebook Metrics - 14 -

Facebook (fig. 2) Bar Graph depicting 4th Quarter, FY 2013 Facebook Metrics 1000 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 Quote Question News Safety Week 38 Week 39 Week 40 Week 41 Week 42 Week 43 Week 44 Week 45 Week 46 Week 47 Week 48 Week 49 Week 50 Week 51 Week 52 (fig. 3) Bar Graph depicting 4th Quarter, FY 2013 Facebook Metrics (photos only) 1400 1200 1000 800 600 Photo 400 200 0 Week Week Week Week Week Week 38 39 40 41 42 43 Week Week 44 45 Week Week Week 46 47 48 - 15 - Week 49 Week 50 Week Week 51 52

Facebook In the 1st Quarter, FY 2014 we went from a photo of the day to a photo of the week. We knew people enjoyed our photos, but we came to the conclusion that our audience was becoming a bit over-saturated with content on our page. Not wanting to make people numb to our photos, we eased back a bit and moved to a once-a-week photo post. You can see in Figure 4 that the weekly photo was generally successful, but not off the charts as we’d hoped. In response to fluctuating success with the photos, we began analyzing the content of the photo (i.e. group photos vs. profile shots, Soldiers in the field vs. Soldiers with their families, etc.). We knew people liked our photos, but we needed to figure out why. We maintained the post through the end of the quarter so as to establish solid data that would enable a new decision for the 2nd quarter. We poured much more effort into our failing Weekend Message. The weekly safety messages, though important and helpful, were not creating the sort of traffic we wanted. In order to improve this content we started pulling useful information from the brigade lawyer and medical officer in addition to our brigade safety officer (originally, the content for the weekend message was coming solely from the safety officer). This allowed us to put up useful tips our audience could practically use (i.e. how to get a power of attorney, where and when you can get your flu shot, etc). - 16 -

Facebook (fig. 4) 1st Quarter, FY 2014 Facebook Metrics - 17-

Facebook (fig. 5) Bar Graph depicting 1st Quarter, FY 2014 Facebook Metrics 1200 1000 800 Quote Question 600 News Photo 400 Message 200 0 Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 - 18 - Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13

Facebook As you can see in Figure 4, we saw several weeks of notable success for the weekend message. However, it was short lived and by week 7 the weekend message was failing once again. We maintained the post through the end of the quarter but never saw any major improvement. The weekly Quote and Question remained our strongest posts, but we still weren’t doing as well as we had when we first started tracking data. After some consideration we came to the conclusion that after our early success at the beginning of the 4th quarter, our audience had become accustomed to our posts and the novelty of an active Facebook page was losing its effect on our fans. This wasn’t a bad thing, quite the opposite. It meant that we had successfully established a higher standard for ourselves and our Facebook page and our audience now expected solid, quality content on a regular basis from us. - 19 -

Facebook In addition to changing what we were posting, one of the other key developments for us was changing when we were posting. Figure 6 is a snapshot from our Facebook Insights page and shows that the majority of our audience is on Facebook between 6 – 7:00 p.m. We had initially been posting our content in the early morning, but switched our posting times to early evening so that our posts would hit more fans at once. (fig. 6) Facebook Metrics showing when our fans are online - 20 -

Facebook Moving into the 2nd Quarter, FY 2014, we have re-vamped our strategy once again. We removed the News and Weekend Message portions from our framework as there was ample data supporting the fact that there was very little interest in those two posts. When information relevant to those categories needs to be disseminated on the Facebook page, we will post it, but we are no longer actively scheduling those posts as a part of the weekly schedule. We took another hard look at our successful posts and tried to figure out how we could build upon them and continue exploit our success. The Quote and the Question were still performing well enough and we saw an opportunity with the Photo of the Week. In addition to the Photo of the Week, we are now working with what we’ve called #MeetTheRailGunners. Every week, we will take a photo of a Soldier, NCO or officer and post that photo on our page with the aforementioned hashtag. We put down the Soldier’s name, unit, hometown, favorite food, favorite movie and favorite sports team. Based on the success of past posts, we know for a fact that anything directly and specifically related to our Soldiers or something they are doing (i.e. NTC, deployment, etc) is always popular on our page. At this point, we’ve only had one such post and it was decently successful. - 21 -

Flickr Our goal with the Flickr page is for it to be as professional and high-quality as possible. When we load photos onto Flickr, we only post the best of the best. Some of our photo sets have only a few photos because they were the only good ones. We are extremely critical of the photos we present to the public since it is a direct reflection on us as an organization. - 22 -

Flickr We use Flickr and Facebook in tandem. We post a photo onto our Facebook wall (usually as our Photo of the Week) and we then post a link to the Flickr photo set either in the comments section of that photo or on the Facebook wall later on. This serves several functions: 1) keeps our Facebook page free from the clutter of hundreds of photos 2) moves traffic from Facebook to Flickr and back again 3) allows us to post our high-resolution images onto Flickr and make them available to our audience for download. - 23 -

Flickr At first, our Flickr page saw very low traffic, we were fortunate to get 20 views on a photo. But as our page grew and our audience saw the standard of quality to which we held our photos, viewership increased and continues to do so to this day (our top ten mostviewed photos have over 500 views each). Our quality was also confirmed when the U.S. Army’s Flickr page added us a contact as well. - 24 -

41st Fires Brigade Fort Hood, Texas

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