The National Guard has about 1.5 million social media followers across six social platforms that requires a multi-agency team to manage and grow. BRINK was an integral part of that team as strategists and content creators, responsible for conceptualizing, designing and developing all posts, infographics, videos, microsites, apps and other viral content pieces.
An untapped community
By 2011, the National Guard amassed close to 1.2 million followers on Facebook and Twitter, some organically but many via paid media efforts. The framework of a community was in place but there was no strategy to foster it and very little interaction from users. The Guard was no longer looking for growth, it was now more important to engage the users it already had.
BRINK was tasked with crafting a content strategy guided by the end goal: to aid in the recruitment of new members and the retention of existing members.
Three user groups were established: non-prior service, current soldier and supporters. We developed a consistent flow of engaging content that promotes organic interaction and sharing among all three target groups while aligning with the brand tone, including a wide variety of creative media such as: image macros, infographics, microsites, videos and vines.
Our goals were to touch on a variety of key objectives:
- Promote military support and pride.
- Educate people on the benefits of service with the Guard.
- Demonstrate the value the Guard brings to local communities.
- Differentiate the Guard from other service branches by highlighting the dual citizen / soldier roles.
- Provide resources and assistance to people looking for more information about joining.
We measured the success of our posts based on key factors including impressions, sharing, engagement and user sentiment:
Expanding to new platforms
As the engagement on Facebook and Twitter continued to improve across the board, we looked to new platforms to expand the National Guard brand and take part in different, unique types of interactions. In 2012 we launched new profiles on Tumblr, Instagram, Google+ and Vine.
The Tumblr blog, “Guard Life”, had a focus on telling (and showing) the lifestyle of a typical soldier as a more intimate and anecdotal-based method of exploring a Guard career. To best leverage the platform, we took on a content strategy of publishing primarily photographs, image macros and animated GIFs. Additionally we offered a question and answer format that allowed not only individuals to get the answers they seek but for the community as a whole to learn from them.
Across the 4 new niche platforms, we organically added nearly 15,000 users over 6 months and produced viral content pieces that are reaching 100,000s of people through the expanded networks of the followers.
Creating Social Campaigns
In addition to the regular content calendar, BRINK developed a variety of major campaigns for the National Guard to celebrate major milestones and provided creative content pieces that boost sharing and engagement.
Heritage of Heroes
Pre-dating the “timeline” format of Facebook, we developed a timeline app to celebrate 375 years of Guard history. Users could explore major milestones throughout history and add their own Guard events.
We explored the incredible missions the Guard accomplished throughout its history while highlighting the technology it has used in a shareable video that followed a soldier's journey through time.
In order to educate the community about all 54 state and territory units of the ARNG, the diversity of community and service that exists, we developed the Tour54 campaign. More than education about the mission of the Guard, our goal was to have visitors spend time on the site, engaging with the interactive content.
Visitors to the site were encouraged to travel through the experience, inspired by The Oregon Trail game. To that end, we divided the 54 units into 7 regions, creating 7 different mini-games, photo and video galleries, including key historical facts delivered by a 3D animated bobblehead, The Minuteman. In addition, a create-your-own postcard application allowed users to upload photos, add graphic overlays, and share the fun of Tour 54 with friends on Twitter, Facebook and Email. Social media was further integrated with a Twitter account for the Minuteman, while the campaign was promoted across all platforms we managed.
True Heroes was a motion graphic novel experience, developed for the Soldier of Steel microsite during the Army National Guard campaign in partnership with the Man of Steel motion picture. Working in collaboration with the team at DC Comics, we developed the initial story concept and script treatment that was then illustrated by the DC artists. Delivered back to us in flat PDF files, our talented graphic designers and developers worked together to bring the comic to life, “animating” the story through the use of HTML5.
The campaign highlighted the parallels between Superman — a seemingly ordinary citizen who deploys his extraordinary powers in times of need — and the Citizen-Soldiers of the National Guard. True heroes in every sense of the word.
We launched a hashtag campaign across major social platforms titled #ThankOurTroops and aggregated all content utilizing the tag into a single microsite. The result was a massive outpouring that supports our goal of fostering engagement among Guard supporters.