Doing More with Less - Is Social Media the Answer?

Maj. Kristi Beckman is the Chief of Social Media for European Command Public Affairs

Maj. Kristi Beckman is the Chief of Social Media for European Command Public Affairs

Well, the NATO Secretary General is blowing me out of the water for sure on the blogging side of the house. It's been seven days since my first blog. Does the excuse that I just got here and I've got a staff of two count? And oh by the way, that staff of two was down to one this week? Yah, I didn’t think so…

Keeping up with you social medializers is NOT easy and definitely not easy when you're trying to learn about a giant command like EUCOM and learn the best people to engage with out there in the blogosphere. Not to worry, I'm getting there, but it is only now at this moment where I can actually take a deep "goosefrabba" breath and feel like I'm getting the hang of this.

So, the topic du jour or rather du semaine, is doing more with less. Does the age of social media relieve some of the stress for everyone? The tools out there, to connect with the rest of the world, are vast and what you can do with them is incredible.

I read a great Huffinton Post blog yesterday by Jared Cohen. Jared works on the Secretary of State's policy planning staff.

He blogged about an event he just returned from, called the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit. The attendees of the summit were a bunch of young leaders who have made an impact through social media, or as Jared likes to call it, connection technologies or ConnectTech, for short. BLUF (military speak for Bottom Line Up Front): they made an impact using social media and getting their voice heard by connecting and communicating with people throughout the world.

Those young leaders did more with less! Through social media, they were able to reach people they would have never talked with before. The opportunities are endless for my command which partners with 51 independent nations. Think about how many folks actually make up that group of nations. A LOT!

We’re exercising and training with our partner nations’ militaries and communicating that we are ultimately stronger together. We can all share and learn from each other and social media or ConnectTech, whatever you want to call it, is making that ever more possible.

So, perhaps social media has indeed relieved some of the pressure of doing more with less? Maybe you have an opinion on that?

I do know that the KEY to social media is taking the time to research the tools out there to help you do more with less and set goals for yourself. What are you trying to accomplish and why?

And, just so you know, my goal by the end of 2009, is to establish myself in the blogosphere and learn the best way to share EUCOM’s and our partner nations’ story. Most importantly, I want to share those stories in a way that makes folks want to pay attention and connect with me and my command!

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Comments: 14

by Mark on October 23, 2009 :

Kristi: I think you can make the case that technological advances have always been (in the production sense) about doing more with less. In general terms, each new tool makes some job easier, but … once that tool becomes commonplace, the expectations for production grow and you’re back to feeling that pressure. That kind of dovetails with Jen’s point. The nation has (generally) had this arrogant worldview that the news cycle ended at 11 p.m. EST, but technology has made us aware that it’s always been a continuous cycle. It’s also shown us that the noise element in the Shannon/Weaver model of communication is continuously getting larger/noisier. And, I’m not convinced that this new globalization hasn’t created information consumers who discard products as “noise” if the “me factor” isn’t readily apparent to them. But from my perspective, yes, the general tasks for a professional communicator can be a lot easier if social media tools are used correctly. I’d also offer that since our tactical-level goals are generally lower-level communications pyramid items like informing/educating, social media should be a plus for us. Since people choose to friend or follow us, I think we’re generally safe in the assumption that they have an interest in our organization and messages, but figuring out the optimal times (less noise) to communicate with those friends/followers is the more difficult element. If we can get the tactical social media piece to work with the other tactical elements (action, outreach, political, etc.) then we should be able to achieve those high-level strategic goals of changing beliefs/behavior and moving people to action. Of course, measuring that strategic success will always be difficult for government public affairs because we can’t measure/poll like other agencies/organizations. Finally, I’d also add that a major plus of effective social media application can be the demonstration of active, accessible, responsive and engaged leadership/employee

by Maj. Kristi Beckman on October 23, 2009 :

Hugh, I like your thought on looking at computer architectures as ecologies rather than closed systems. Very interesting. I like how you explained it in your last paragraph, because before that you weren’t quite getting through to me :o) If I’m following you right, you could look at Twitter as the organism and see how many other organisms have formed from Twitter, such as Tweet Deck, Tweet Grid, Power Tweet, Twitter Mail, and so many others. They are the offspring to that organism. And the same holds true for SO many other systems. Over time the organisms will evolve to fit their environment, hence the future organisms to come. How did I do??? It’s clear as mud to me! :o)

by Maj. Kristi Beckman on October 23, 2009 :

Jen, Yes, your downside that you refer to has been the complaint for many news journalists out there who are now up against bloggers and citizen journalists who post the stories so fast! I think the more difficult challenge lies with the consumers of the information though. We are the ones left with determining what to believe and when. We have been brought up to trust the media because they are held to a code of ethics and are held accountable when they break that code. Your good bloggers understand this though and they have a large followership of folks who trust them and they've built a great reputation. I, personally, am in favor of the way things are running these days. I like having the news available through numerous sources and I don't just have to rely on CNN or FOX. I can more than likely google the subject or go to YouTube and watch the events unfold from a citizen journalist witnessing it first-hand. A lot of the news outlets are embracing this. I really don't think they have much choice in the matter. If you can't beat them, join them. CNN's I-Report is a prime example of this. Thanks for the follow and the comments! Keep them coming!

by Ray Kimball on October 23, 2009 :

Kristi: I know it wasn't the subject of your post, but I'd caution against a "keeping up with the Joneses" aspect of blogging that you alluded to at the start of your post. When I was blogging, I always went for a quality over quantity aspect - I'd rather make 1-2 posts a week that were good for provoking conversation than a flurry of less-impactful posts. It helps that you're part of a group blog, so some of the pressure to produce is off of you. Thus far, your posts have been consistently high-quality, so I don't think you have a lot to worry about on that regard. Ray

by Jen on October 23, 2009 :

I think social media has enabled us and at the same time set us back. We are able to communicate and be more engaging to a wide audience in telling the story, sharing information and trying to be heard. However, I think the downside, and this also comes from the shortened news cycle, is that individuals can be so quick to get new information out there and to be the first ones with the "breaking news" that checking the facts and making sure you have the entire story first. Kristi, I believe that you are going to do great things with your efforts on social media because you are showing that you are focused on getting accurate information out but presenting it in a format that allows discussion and is understandable by individuals at all levels. I look forward to reading more of your blogs and learning more about EUCOM's mission and impact.

by Hugh Campbell on October 30, 2009 :

I think you did fine, don't worry. Sometimes it's even hard for me to wrap all of my thoughts into a cohesive train of thought ;) That is a very good way to look at it, though. Mashups in particular are a great example of how a particular organism can spawn off multiple organisms that share a common bond (i.e. feed your personal Twitter stream) but that can offer more than what just regular Twitter offers (ability to embed geo-locational data, ability to embed streaming radio, ability to embed file data, etc.). Eventually the best of breed features from each will get incorprated into future generational mashups and continuously evolve. Mobile technology will push this rate of evolution faster than I think most people can really anticipate (including myself).

by Maj. Kristi Beckman on October 23, 2009 :

Curtis, Well, I guess one could say Chris has been doing this a while with over 104,000 followers on Twitter. I'm not even going to put my number out there :o) I'm now following Chris and Steve thanks to you, so THANKS! It's a brave new world out there and I'm having fun exploring it! As Dainaz Illava wrote on Facebook today, it's not word of mouth anymore, it's WORLD of mouth! Love that quote!

by Maj. Kristi Beckman on October 23, 2009 :

You know, Ray, that's a pretty good point! I don't want to just blog to blog. There's a rhyme and reason to the madness, after all, right? Thanks for the reminder and the pat on the back!

by Curtis Roberts on October 23, 2009 :

Kristi: You've already achieved the three fundamental attributes of a great blogger: knowing it's only a tool, knowing quality content trumps quantity, and knowing that you don't know everything. As alluded to in prior comments, focusing on the "social" aspect of blogging automatically generates the "media" distribution. Open interaction with your readership and fellow communicators builds trust and interest, and a desire to redistribute, re-tweet, and repeat the valuable content you provide. Two trailblazers I suggest you check out are Chris Brogan (http://www.chrisbrogan.com) and Steve Radick (http://steveradick.com). Chris is a down-to-earth social media guru and one of the leading bloggers in the US. He's on Twitter at @chrisbrogan Steve is the Social Media Lead for Booz Allen and championing an insightful creation of Gov 2.0. He's at @sradick. I envy your EUCOM social media position in Stuttgart and the relationship opportunities with other countries. What a great assignment!

by Hugh Campbell on October 23, 2009 :

I think it has. I think that there have been two key developments through social media’s advancement (though I want to be careful here and state that social media itself does not garner all the accolades) that have occurred that will empower more improved productivity for individuals: first is we’re actually looking more at the Web itself as a social conduit than we did in the past and second people are now looking at computer architectures as ecologies rather than closed systems. On the first, the Web started a bit social but gravitated towards commercial and “New Economy” model. People were so busy trying to develop the next Amazon that the social conduits of previous eras (Usenet, IRC, IM) were relatively left ignored and not advanced upon. It took companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter to show that the social dynamics of individuals contain critical pieces of information that can be leveraged to the individual user’s advantage. As mobile has become more and more important over the years through the advent of smartphones and their blurring the lines of how far the Network (Internet) reaches, the ability to leverage your social networks is going to become even more critical to individual and organizational success. Being connected to your peers through the Network and being able to “touch” them when you are disparate geographically from them is going to force organizations to become more agile. It will also help to further productivity as the power of the group can help be leveraged to tackle problems and issues that we as individuals sometimes have problems digesting into smaller bits. On the second, we have generally treated systems and architectures as walled gardens and not ecologies. Defining ecology as study of the interactions between organisms and the interactions of these organisms with their environment, we are now looking at how our XML-based standards and protocols can take our walled gardens of data silos and bring interaction/data excha

by Evangeline Kreck on August 18, 2011 :

I'm not an expert, but I think you just made the best point. You obviously know a lot about what youre talking about. Thank you for being so upfront and so honest about the subject matter. I really feel like I have a better understanding now.

by DocHarrisMeyer on January 2, 2010 :

Hey Ray, I get what a quality post is but can you explain how quantity posting is done and why it's not advisable? Thanks, Harris

by YN2(SW) Gauthier on April 20, 2010 :

Social Media only transmits Ideas. if those ideas turn to action, then yes I would say that social media allows one to do more with less. But, it will never be more than the first step. Social Media must be in accord with action, otherwise there is no difference between what we all do online, and what old men do in coffee shops and cafes: Talk. Politics and the world of diplomacy lend themselves better to social media than the military does. As the military will always first and foremost be about turning something into reality, not just talk. If you look across all the milblogs out there, you will find that most any issue facing the military today has thousands of good ideas being debated which all could turn to a good resolution. Because of this, I almost daily become less and less enamored with good ideas. There are just too many of them, what we have far fewer of are those people who can take those ideas debated ad nauseam and create results and beneficial change from them. Now that many say we've got web 2.0, I would like to see 3.0 be about taking these good ideas and helping to implement them. Otherwise, all information will be for is amusement, no different than watching TV.

by dgriess55 on April 14, 2010 :

Major, I definitely agree that the use of social media can help groups do more with less. However, I think the cited proof point could have been serendipity. I think with respect to the military environment, social media can yield outrageous results when there's intent to how the connecting technologies are used. For example, some intentionality to the keywords or tags allows for people to more easily find affinities and discover or develop networks. Having common, trusted places to connect is also helpful. Having said that, i would continue to encourage the use of the public tools to stimulate appropriate other conversations. Great post. Keep it up.

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