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U.S.

Strategic Command
Public Affairs Rules of Engagement for Social Media

Purpose
This document serves to provide standards and guidelines on how public affairs can effectively and
safely engage in the use of social media as a tool to inform the command personnel, the general public
and media of the mission and activities of U.S. Strategic Command and its subordinate components.

Best practices and OPSEC issues are provided in the companion Social Media Field Guide to help
support and protect command personnel and their families as they use social media at home.

Goal
The goal of public affairs use of social media is to create an additional outlet to provide rich and
meaningful content for consumption by the general public and for use by media to better educate and
inform on command activities using command themes and messages.

Social media sites should be used as a supplement to and expansion of the content provided on U.S.
Strategic Commands official public site www.stratcom.mil.

Tools Currently Used


These are the social media tools currently utilized by U.S. Strategic Command:

Facebook:

United States Strategic Command


http://www.facebook.com/usstrategiccommand

Flickr:

USSTRATCOM
http://www.flickr.com/photos/usstratcom/

Twitter:

@US_Stratcom
http://www.twitter.com/us_stratcom
U.S. Strategic Command
Public Affairs Rules of Engagement for Social Media

@USSTRATCOM_CD
http://www.twitter.com/usstratcom_cd

YouTube:

stratcompa
http://www.youtube.com/stratcompa

Tactics
The following tactics should be used in order to make effective use of social media:

1. Ensure command web sites and printed products make use of links (hyperlinks and
printed text), and technologies like QR codes referring to the commands official social
media sites when appropriate
2. Post command news stories, photos, video, etc. to the public site, then either link or
post content to social media sites as appropriate
3. Post subordinate and mission partners' stories like #2.
4. Post links to mission-related media stories like #2.
5. Post mission and/or military related questions and trivia to stimulate dialogue.
6. Engage in meaningful conversation with fans/followers; answer questions and
comments when appropriate

Posting Guidelines
Once something is posted on the internet there is no assurance it can ever be removed, and so
it must be assumed that anything posted online is going to be available forever. This is
especially true for social networking sites, and why it is imperative to ensure all content posted
to social media sites is both releasable and appropriate. The following questions should be
asked whenever posting something on behalf of U.S. Strategic Command:

Is the content releasable?

- All content posted must be UNCLASSIFIED or non-classified, and releasable to the public.
- Consider if the content contains information (outside of authorized releases) about
incidents currently under investigation or about casualties prior to confirmation that the
next of kin have been notified.
- Pay special attention to critical information, such as unit personnel rosters, directory
charts, names of personnel family members, and other Personally Identifiable
Information (PII).

Is the content copyrighted, or biased?


U.S. Strategic Command
Public Affairs Rules of Engagement for Social Media

- Is the content trademarked; who owns the rights to this content?


- Does the content show endorsement or favoritism of one product or service over
another?

Site Specific Tactics


Facebook

Good for posting links to news stories, uploading photos to, and posting links to videos
posted on YouTube.
Posting constant updates (i.e. live posting) at an event may drive away users, posts should
be limited to a few a day
Users can post to the commands fan page wall, or comment on posts.

Flickr

Good for posting images and sharing images in a standalone or album fashion
Allows for private photo sets that can be utilized to send photos to specific individuals

Twitter

Good for posting links to news articles, photo albums, videos, etc.
Tweets should almost always have a shortened link with relevant information, both to make
the tweet shorter and to track clicks
When feasible make use of hash tags for events and topics (ie #StratCSS), or reference users
(ie @DeptofDefense)
Users can reference the command using @US_Stratcom in a tweet, or sending
@US_Stratcom a direct (private) message.

YouTube

Good for posting videos, allowing users to share videos on their own platform (mobile,
Facebook integration, etc.)
When possible, its preferable to post a video to YouTube, then link to it on Facebook
users can still play the video intuitively in the Facebook window.
Tracks views and allows comments, likes and replies for videos

Conversing on SNS
Its important not to forget the social in social media. Users are accustomed to reading and
discussing topics on social media sites in a more casual tone; an overly authoritative and formal
attitude will diminish a users interest. A relaxed, but still tempered and professional attitude is
more appropriate for this arena, as users prefer to feel that they are speaking to a person and
U.S. Strategic Command
Public Affairs Rules of Engagement for Social Media

not a government entity.

At all times you must keep in mind you are speaking on behalf of U.S. Strategic Command;
however you can still aim to make the content you post entertaining and informative at the
same time.

Tweet from a few days before the 2011 USSTRATCOM Cyber & Space Symposium

Negative Feedback
Negative feedback given by users in the form of comments, tweets, etc. should only be
responded to when the information you are providing helps clarify a situation and is unlikely to
instigate a larger negative response or flame war. The intention of any response given should
not be to argue but only to educate.

Content Removal
While most posts, even those that are negative can be safely left alone, certain content is
inappropriate and therefore should be removed, blocked, or reported, depending on what
options a given site has.

The types of posts that should be removed include:

- Advertising for commercial products & services on U.S. Strategic Command pages
- Lewd or outright offensive or abusive comments that are inappropriate for display on
U.S. Strategic Command pages

Generally speaking even negative comments can be left up as open meaningful debate is a
fundamental part of the social media experience and attracts users. Excluding viewpoints can
U.S. Strategic Command
Public Affairs Rules of Engagement for Social Media

harm both the popularity and the credibility of the command. It is important not to over-
moderate or attempt to control peoples freedom to speak their mind.

Tracking Results
In order to ascertain a return on investment for social media efforts, results must be tracked to
gain insight into which types of items are the most popular, and what formats users prefer.

URL Shortening Services


Typically we will use http://bit.ly/ to shorten all links, because it offers centralized tracking, and
will automatically use specific sites like go.usa.gov (the preferred shortening service for
.gov/.mil sites), or fam.ag (for Foreign Affairs Magazine). Once logged in to bit.ly, URLs can be
created and tracked for clicks. The shorter URLs are also easier to fit into 140 character tweets
and can still be posted on sites like Facebook.

Facebook
Facebook Insights provides statistics on reach, likes, etc. These can be viewed while logged into
Facebook, but are not available for older posts.

YouTube
YouTube automatically tracks statistics on views/likes/etc, these can be viewed while logged
into YouTube.

Public Site
For the commands public site (www.stratcom.mil) Google Analytics free service
(http://www.google.com/analytics/) is employed. Using Google Analytics provides a wealth of
statistics about public site usage.

Honeypots & Spies


Its important to be cautious not only about what information is revealed both from public
posts and private replies (though you should always try to reply publically) to users on social
networks, but also to whom you are retweeting/liking, etc. There have been numerous
documented cases of people creating entire profiles online that
are false.

Robin Sage
Take for example Robin Sage, a 25 year old cyber threat analyst
who was working at the Naval Network Warfare command in
Norfolk, Virginia. She graduated from MIT and had nearly 10 years
of work experience in the Department of Defense cyber arena.

Robin Sage
U.S. Strategic Command
Public Affairs Rules of Engagement for Social Media

Most notable is the fact that Robin Sage does not really exist. She was a figment of the
imagination of Thomas Ryan, co-founder of a company called Provide Security. That however
did not stop over 300 National Security Agency (NSA) workers from friending her, or Lockheed
Martin and Google from offering her consulting jobs. Others sought her advice, and Thomas
even managed to get the security questions for someones bank account.

This is not the only instance of this kind of activity, and luckily the intention of the Robin Sage
Experiment was public awareness. Its not difficult to imagine what a nefarious actor would be
able to do given the same bag of tricks. Be aware of what you are revealing through your posts,
especially to those people who you dont know in person.

( See: The Dangers of Friending Strangers: the Robin Sage Experiment for more)

Phishing
Clicking links, especially those directed at you can be dangerous. As a combatant command, our
accounts will be the targets of spearfishing attempts that are targeted at U.S. Strategic
Command or even public affairs specifically.

When possible, use tools like http://www.longurl.com/ to expand shortened URLs and track
where they actually go.