Defense contractors who enlist the help of their employees in company social media efforts can quickly increase awareness, preference and business opportunities. Here's how to get started.
Over 500 years ago when the printing press was invented, it was not immediately embraced. In fact, many rulers and church leaders were threatened by how the printing press could be used to challenge their authority and the status quo.
There are parallels to today with the Internet and social media. Both have upended companies, entire industries and even governments. And the change is happening in real time.
But deep within the recesses of some peoples' subconscious is a belief that social media is a fad that will fade in importance. It won't. Social media is here to stay and its use will only increase.
Despite the sometimes sensitive and confidential nature of their products and services, many defense contractors are stepping up their social media efforts.
In the first-ever study of defense industry social media use by DefenceIQ, defense contractors articulated the following benefits of using social media for their companies:
And the majority of defense contractors are planning to increase their social media efforts in the future:
One concern that defense contractors have about social media is ensuring that no sensitive information is shared about their products, services or customers. That is why some defense contractors have limited their social media efforts and not reaped the benefits outlined above.
However, most employees of defense contractors are already using social media in their private lives. If employees of defense contractors are going to say or do something that would reflect poorly on themselves or their employers, they can already do that.
So rather than try to fight the surging tide of social media, some defense contractors are enlisting their employees to be ambassadors for their companies. Doing so can exponentially extend the reach of their companies and help to put an approachable, human face on their firms.
The best thing a defense contractor can do to help protect their company and employees while taking advantage of social media is to institute an employee social media policy.
When I talk to defense contractors about social media policies, one reason given for why they don't have one is because they don't know how to get started. That reason is no longer acceptable.
A free online social media policy tool generator, PolicyTool, can generate a customized social media policy in minutes. By answering just twelve specific questions, the tool instantly creates a social media policy for a company.
The policy it generates is over 1,200 words and covers topics like confidentiality, dealing with controversies, copyright laws and more.
To give you an idea of what one of these policies looks like, I generated a report for my company by completing the twelve questions. Click here to see the social media policy that it generated. And, it took less than five minutes.
PolicyTool was developed by digital agency rtraction, and David R. Canton, a legal expert on the Internet and technology. There's no commitment to use it and you don't even have to provide an email address.
Once you have generated a first draft of a social media policy you can then make refinements. You will have a great starting point and don't need to create a policy from whole cloth.
For additional inspiration on developing a social media policy, the best examples for defense contractors come from their customers in the military.
In an effort to take advantage of social media for a variety of communication purposes (e.g. recruitment, public relations, etc) all branches of the military sought to train their service members how to properly use social media rather than try to curtail its use (a losing proposition).
The latest social media guides from the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard are included below.
Sound off! What challenges have you faced developing a social media policy for your organization? Please join the conversation below. And if you found this helpful, please share it with your network.