DOD's social media outreach missing some marks

Health.mil Web site not reaching most of 18-25 age group

Although the Defense Department is embracing social media, more work remains to reach service members via the new tools.

Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, director of strategic communications at the Military Health System, said less than 10 percent of Health.mil visitors are younger than 25, while 80 percent of the military community is between the ages of 18 and 25.


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“So we’re not reaching the people we need to reach using that Web site,” Kilpatrick said at a recent event for federal communicators July 9 in Washington.

MHS' interactive Web site features audio Webcasts and links to social-networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr from its Social Media Hub page at www.health.mil/connect. Yet more of an effort is needed to connect service members to the agency, said Kilpatrick, who added that health information for service members and their families needs to be distributed via a variety of communications platforms.

“We want them to receive the information they want, in the way they want to receive it, when they want it,” Kilpatrick said.

However, security concerns remain. At a conference last month, cyber counterintelligence experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency discussed how enemies could uncover military secrets using social-networking sites such as LinkedIn to identify individuals who are working on sensitive technologies, figure out whom they associate with, follow their movements online, look for clues on new research areas and so on.

About the Authors

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.


Reader Comments

Thu, Jul 16, 2009 JackO Virginia

When is the military going to wise up and recognize that social networking within the DoD is a lucrative target, just as a new weapons system would be. I spent 20+ years gathering intelligence information from open sources and social networking and I can tell you, the real threat is not from a GI selling secrets to the bad guys,although that does happen, but comes from open source, casual conversations, and the tons of information already being posted in the internet. This so-called (unclassified or SBU) is information that the bad guys don't even have to work for! I never needed access to any classified information, I can eat their lunch without ever seeing a cover sheet. Wise up DoD, the armed forces are not facebook, P2P, IM playgrounds.

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