DoD engages young workers with social media tools

Monday - 8/3/2009, 1:31pm EDT

Price Floyd

Download mp3

By Emily Jarvis
Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio

Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and blogs are just a couple of the social media tools young people are using on a daily basis.

Now the Department of Defense is trying to utilize those tools to reach out to younger federal employees in the 18-25 age range.

"We have a Twitter page at Defenselink.mil and we have a Facebook page. Many of our commands around the world are using these social tools. The best one, known as EUCom.mil, their United States European Command web page and what they do with social networking is really amazing," said Price Floyd, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs at DoD. He spoke with Tom Temin and Beverly Kirk on the Federal Drive.

He says many young workers simply don't respond as well to memos or newsletters as older workers.

But Floyd says the new social tools go beyond just dispersing information.

It's not about faxing and press releases. This new way of communicating is demonstratively different than those. This is not going from a blast fax to a blast e-mail. Social networking and the promise that it holds is dramatically different than those. It's not just a better mouse trap, a better way of pushing out information to people, but it's an exchange of information. That exchange could actually change the substance of your policy. In other words, when you have a policy idea or policy recommendation, if you push it out to people and you are able to engage and they come back and talk to you, you could change your policy. In essence it gives people ownership of the policy for the first time.

When the war in Iraq began, soldiers blogging became a heated debate. The Pentagon attempted to crack down on blogging but now the Army is lifting many of those restrictions, and even encouraging blogging.

"The Army allows people who have just been recruited or people who have been in the military a long time to talk on blogs. Talk in the language and about their experiences like normal people do unlike cleared press guidance. We found that our soldiers are the best spokespeople to do this, not necessarily the Defense Department spokesperson," said Floyd.

According to Floyd, the biggest benefit to the blogs and other social media tools is the almost real time interactions soldiers can have with their families. Floyd says many soldiers can even help their kids with homework. "It has helped the morale of our troops," said Floyd.

(Copyright 2009 by FederalNewsRadio.com. All Rights Reserved.)