I often give presentations on social media marketing, where I preach transparency, casual friendliness, and acceptance of negative feedback. One organization not known for those qualities is the United States military. Which is why I was so surprised to see that the US Navy had a Facebook page that encouraged recruits, and potential recruits, to openly discuss their concerns and challenges.
Even more surprising is the fact that the page isn’t for everyone considering a career in the Navy; it’s specifically for women, who have had a difficult history in our country’s armed forces.
The page is called “Women Redefined,” and it provides an interesting example of gender branding and recruitment.
Women Redefined offers as its mission, “Applauding women who define life on their own terms. Intermingling the stereotypically feminine and masculine. Women in the Navy are amongst those paving the way in redefining femininity in the 21st Century. Show your support or share your story.” Clearly, the Navy isn’t shying away from women’s concerns that joining the military would make them less feminine.
They’re allowing women to ask some pretty tough questions, too. “How is it for you when you leave your boyfriend?”… “Did you have regrets in the beginning?”… “Do single mothers enlist in the navy?” Women in the service, or in training, reply to these queries, and the conversation is posted online for all the public – and all the world – to see.
It’s not just potential enlistees that are raising the questions. The page administrators recently posted on the Wall, “What are your biggest concerns when thinking about joining the Navy?” The query garnered 90 responses, such as “I’m too old” and “I won’t get the job that I want.” Interestingly, the administrators never responded; the question was most likely an exercise in market research. Perhaps soon we’ll see an ad that tells women “You’re not too old to join the Navy.”
In my opinion, this takes engagement of job candidates to a new level. By allowing women to ask each other questions, share their stories, and support each other, the Navy is fostering a community like any other brand. And they’re doing it well.
Women Redefined points those seeking more information to navy.com/women, whose front page offers a live chat feature, where women can speak online to a recruiter. Such open and proactive communication would have been unheard of a few years ago. In fact, navy.com/women also features over a dozen individual Facebook pages for the Navy, including one titled “Navy Latinos.” That branding deserves an article of its own.