Twitter Chat – Social Media in the Military and Defence

It’s a little over two months until SMi’s Social Media in the Defence and Military conference on 28th – 29th November in London.

There is an impressive line up of speakers covering a wide agenda from looking at Social Media use for Recruitment, Retention and Engagement with Home Audiences as well as how Strategic Communications supports Exercises and Operations that looks at the rise of disinformation, Hybrid Warfare and Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE).

Ric Cole (@Ric_Cole) of i3 Gen has been invited to chair this year’s event, and as part of the run-up to the conference, i3 Gen are hosting an open #MilSocialMedia Twitter Chat on 10th October at 18:00-19:00 UK Time (BST). We will run this as a Special chat in the usual #SMChat slot.

Ric recently published a review of RAND Corporation’s 2016 US InfoOps research report ‘Dominating Duffer’s Domain’ in which we considered the first 13 lessons through the perspective of Digital and Social Media. Building on that article and in preparation for the conference, we thought it would be interesting to discuss some core questions around Social Media use in and by defence sector organisations, both military and civilian.

We are seeing an increasing maturity and acceptance of the role of Social Media in Defence. The British Army recently published updated Guidance on Social Media use for all ranks. This guide was well written and widely welcomed throughout the British Army and wider. Whilst this is encouraging, it also brings to the forefront additional considerations around training, support, and of course security.

During the Twitter chat we would like to gather viewpoints and discuss the following questions:

  • Q1. How do you think social media should be used in the Military and Defence Sector today?
  • Q2. The use of ‘Story-telling’ structures and techniques are key to audience engagement. What are the best ways to tell stories with Social Media, considering the limited space for content?
  • Q3. Social Media is a fast moving, dynamic and often reactive environment. How can we balance the need to be timely with the permissions and approval authority requirements of our organisations, Military or Corporate?
  • Q4. Social Media has been used to develop false narratives and influence through the use of Impostor Accounts, Misinformation / Disinformation and deliberate trolling. How can we detect and handle fake Social Media?

— If time allows we will cover these ‘bonus’ questions.

  • Q6. What key questions would you like to see covered at the #MilSocialMedia conference?

To participate in the live Twitter Chat, just click on this link or search for #MilSocialMedia on 10th October and we will kick-off at 18:00 UK Time.

To join in during the chat, please use A1. , A2. , A3. Etc at the start of your tweet and use the hashtags #MilSocialMedia#SMChat – we will then be able to create a transcript and share after the event.

If you have more questions you want answering or insights that will take more than 280 characters, or perhaps fear you won’t be able to make the chat but want your voice heard? Then please leave a comment below!


Sorry but you’re not on the list!

When I talk about using Twitter to people a very common question is;

“How do you make sense of it? I only have (some number) of followers and when I go onto my Twitter stream it’s just a random stream of content, yes some of it is what I’m interested in but I struggle to get a real consistent value.”

I can sympathise with this point of view and it only gets worse the more you use Twitter and the more connections you make.

So what’s the answer?

Well, Twitter has built-in functionality that allows you to filter, search and generally slice up the huge firehose that is the main Twitter stream.

The most useful of these are Twitter Lists.

I use lists to create smaller more focused Twitter streams that contain accounts that are within and specific community or domain of interest, I also subscribe to lists that others have curated for similar purposes.

Now using lists within the native Twitter platform, regardless of device or OS, is not particularly useful; other than for discovering new accounts that others have already added to a list. The real value of lists comes when you combine them with another Social Media management tool; my platform of choice is Hootsuite, but I also use lists within TwitterFall and Twitterific (on mobile).

Using these tools, you can create views/streams that only contain the content from accounts in a list. This means I can review my overall Twitter stream in manageable slices that are relevant to whatever I am interested in at that particular time.

Hootsuite using Twitter Lists

This screen shot shows a subset of my Hootsuite set-up; three lists are shown, Marketing, Analysts and Tech, as well as a stream that is based on the hashtag #Marketing – Hashtags are, arguably, the most powerful ‘feature’ of Twitter — this post talks more about how I use Hashtags.

Back to lists…

To make use of Twitter lists you need to create and add accounts to them. You can do this on Twitter or other platforms like Hootsuite or a follower management tool like Statusbrew. This can be onerous if you try to do it in a huge batch, but it’s worth doing and necessary if you’ve yet to build your own lists.

The easiest way to do this, and it requires some self-discipline, is to place new accounts in lists when you follow them or when you get followed, by the way – you don’t have to have a direct connection to an account to add it to a list – so if you are micromanaging your Twitter profile in terms of who you follow etc then this doesn’t prevent you from maximising your use of lists.

For more technical help on using Lists, here is the Twitter Help page on


Twitter is Chum!

Have you ever watched the movie Jaws?

Do you remember the scene when Police Chief Brody (Roy Schneider) was leaning over, throwing blood and guts over the side of the boat?

If you didn’t know, that gory gunk in the bucket is called ‘Chum’ and game fishers use it to attract the big fish they are hoping to hook and land.

Well, that’s what using Twitter for marketing is;

Twitter is Chum… its purpose is to attract a target audience!


If all you do is throw chum in the water, then you’re not going to catch any fish!
You need to have the rest in place; you need bait, hook, a rod and line that’s fit for purpose and the skills to use them effectively; you’ll also need a ‘big enough boat’ and once you’ve caught your fish, you need to get it ashore and to market to sell to realise a return on investment.

This is exactly the same for marketing; each of the elements above have their equivalent in digital marketing and without them you’re digital marketing plans will fail.

  • Chum – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn updates
  • Bait – engaging messages and
  • Hook – valued associated content (LinkedIn Posts, YouTube, Blog and ) and a Call to Action
  • Rod and Line – Website Contact Capture and ideally a Marketing Automation Platform
  • Boat – CRM
  • Shore team – Sales

Essentially, my opinion here is that effective digital marketing needs a strategy and joined up activities otherwise you’ll just be wasting time and money attracting fish for other better prepared fishers to hook and land.