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The top six social media websites have a combined total of 2.588 billion users. Facebook accounts for almost half of them, with a total of 1.2 billion users, acquired over only a short eight years. There’s no doubt social media connects millions of individuals with each other, as well as plenty of goods and services every minute of every day, but it bears an even more significant impact worldwide going well beyond just personal profiles.
Facebook recently added Kosovo as a location users and businesses can check into. Obviously, Facebook cannot legally recognize a country, especially one that has been in existence for 5 years, but the influence Facebook bears on the world has actually unofficially legitimized the country and almost single handedly improved its economy with something as simple as a keystroke.
With its grip on the world, it’s a wonder how Marine Corps recruiting has yet to truly and effectively leverage social media to its advantage and manipulate such a powerful tool to locate and close with potential applicants.
“Our market lies within social media,” says GySgt. Daniel Evans, training team social media director. “Every day more people get online through social media, and more landlines are disappearing. It’s important for us to adjust fire to continue the sustainability of the force and recruiting goals, and find the high quality individuals we have a reputation of recruiting.”
Evans is in the process of revamping the social media campaign for 12th Marine Corps District. Through the training he provides at the recruiting substations, he shows recruiters how to capitalize on opportunities often lost. There are many opportunities that lie within social media, the problem is recognizing and exploiting the opportunity.
One opportunity, which recruiters often don’t capitalize on, is creating authentic content. These types of posts relate much more to the surrounding community.
“A picture tagged with eight poolees in it got 47 likes, which shares the Marine Corps message to the news feeds of the friends of those 47 people,” said Evans. “This only helps create awareness that there’s a Marine Corps recruiting office in their area, possibly sparking more interest on joining.”
Before and after pictures are another great way for people of the community to see what the Marine Corps does.
“It shows people who are engaged with the page we really do care about the people we bring in,” he said. “They are the people who saw the Marine at the grocery store or around town, and they can see those changes.”
Evans also pointed out the authentic content generated at the RSS level shows recruiters don’t only care about the number of people they bring in.
“Basically, the content generated at the RSS level containing the recruiters daily activities shows the people of America we really do care about them, not just as Marines, but people,” said Evans. “It definitely shows and creates a paradigm of authenticity of our brand, the Marine Corps.”
The easiest way to produce this content is simply by capturing the moment with a cell phone.
“Recruiters are issued government cell phones with a camera,” he said. “They are going to have the ability to upload directly to their RSS page. They will continue to get credit for the hard work they do. Taking a minute to post those photos will go a long way.”
Recruiters can do more than post a few photos to further use social media to their advantage. Recruiters often times have trouble with the Recruiter Supplied Names they receive from high schools and the information doesn’t take them where they want it to go. Using the salesmanship skills they were are taught in recruiter school, they can contact those who are interested through Facebook and entice them through a textual conversation.
By copying and pasting an e-mail address from a lead sheet into the Facebook search, recruiters can directly contact the individual.
Be warned though, according to Marine Corps Order 5728.1A, cold-contacting a prospective applicant can only be done through the RSS page, not a recruiter’s personal page. This is important because the individual feels more comfortable, and doesn’t feel like a stranger is reaching out to them.
“The benefit to this is it narrows the search down to one profile, this helps with the RSN problem,” said Evans. “I would always suggest a face-to-face interaction first, but this is a great way to solve the problem.”
When those prospective applicants do come into the recruiting office, suggest they check-in to the recruiting office over Facebook, he continued.
“If the average applicant has 300 friends, there’s 300 people who are now aware there is a Marine Corps recruiting office in their community,” he said.
Another problem social media tackles is attrition.
“The poolee now has more pressure to follow through on his or her commitment,” said Evans. “In the event they don’t, so many people saw photos of them, and it would be almost taboo to back out of it.”
Evans also left recruiters a few tips to take their social media experience even further.
- Update employment information on your personal profile, and set it to public. It creates a LinkedIn experience, and if someone tries to contact you, it looks legitimate.
- Have a meeting in the morning and talk about where everyone is going and what they are doing for the day. This way they can see opportunities to capitalize on their regular plans set forth by their staff noncommissioned officer in charge.
- Invite people to review the performance of you and your RSS on Facebook. This is especially helpful for parents who are hesitant to believe a recruiter. They can look at the input and shape their beliefs based on those reviews.
For more information on social media guidance, refer to the social media handbook at www.marines.dodlive.mil/files/2012/01/Marines-Social-Media-Handbook.pdf and MARADMIN 181/10.
Are you using social media effectively? What are some of the things you tried that seem to work well in your RSS? Do you have any ideas you want to try and think they might work? Any questions or concerns about social media? Share your thoughts in the comment section below to connect with other recruiters and the training team.