One of my students at Georgetown, Paul Bove, works with the Air Force. The Air Force Public Affairs Agency just published their New Media and The Air Force brochure, a guide to provide professionals with the knowledge they need to work online.
It’s really an outstanding thorough guide, and a demonstration of how far mainstream America has come with social media. In the introduction the guide says, “If the Air Force does not tell it’s own story, someone else will.” And so it begins, a true understanding of the subculture of opinion that social media provides Americans.
This is perhaps the most telling sentence in the brochure:
It is up to the Public Affairs professionals at each level to teach and enforce Air Force new media policy, by training and educating every Airman on the proper use and techniques for engaging in new media.
Wow. If that’s not an acknowledgement of how pervasive social media is, I don’t know what it is. The Air Force is in essence saying (and as Paul told me), “Every Airman is a Communicator.”
It’s great to see a military organization as large as the Air Force understands how bottom up social media really is. And they take their mission seriously, “Airmen, by the nature of the business are always on the record and must always represent the core values, even on the Web.” But it’s not complete authoritarianism: “the Air Force respects the rights of Airmen to use [web sites and blogs] as a medium of self expression.”
I like the balance between mission and people there. The general primer goes all the way back to O’Reilly Media’s declaration of Web 2.0., and then proceeds to basic social network definitions and best practices (No impersonations!).
And what would a great social media policy be without a measurement section to appease KD Paine. “Define measurement benchmarks through detailed and achievable qualitative and quantitative metrics…”
All in all the 28 page document and video demonstrate a great savviness. I’m impressed. The Air Force is leading the U.S. military and most branches of the government into the social web.