Social media as a force multiplier: a study of military best practice

The nature of conflict is changing: we are increasingly pursuing wars of choice in well populated urban areas where the mainstream media have limited access but the population are well served by ICT infrastructure. This empowers new actors, bloggers, citizen journalists and more purposeful social media warriors, who can shape how audiences understand the nature and conduct of a conflict. In the battle for information dominance, the timeliness, credibility and frequency of posts are no less important than the control of territory.

As the Australian Army makes more use of social media, this project will identify best practice among its allies and comparator militaries in its adoption and deployment as an information operations capability. It will consider how these militaries use social media, both on and off the battlefield, and what the Australian Army might learn from them.

The project will review the literature examining the experiences of Israeli, US, British, Canadian, Dutch and Danish militaries as they adopted and deployed social media. It will also conduct interviews with key personnel who oversaw the introduction of social media in their particular military. The interviews will illuminate how personalities, the organisational structures they inhabit, the military cultures that shape their behaviour and the strategies they serve shaped social media policy and its implementation.

The project will culminate in the production of a report that the Army can use to inform planning around the development of social media policy and its implementation within the organisation.

Chief Investigator Associate Professor Kevin Foster

Funder Department of Defence – Australian Army

Date of Award 2016