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.


More on DOD's use of social media:

Gates acknowledges DOD is behind on the social-media curve
New MHS hub provides easy access for social networking
Army gives soldiers access to Twitter, Facebook
Social networking poses risk to operational security


“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 Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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