Australia Defence Force ADF and social media

When Crikey asked me for a quote on The Australian Defence Force employing George Patterson agency to do a social media review, I agreed. I made some comments about using a traditional media agency to advise on social media and offered the opinion that it was like using a fox to do an audit of the henhouse. Especially as George Patts is effectively the inhouse agency for The Australian Defence Force (ADF). Given that social media is the antithesis of traditional media (if it’s created by an agency, the media is not social though it might become viral) can an agency that is paid to create media in competition to social media report on social media objectively?

Because you really want moral direction of Australia's military social media engagement managed by an advertising agency, right?

There is some irony on my own behalf  –  I also pointed out that I advise the Singapore Ministry of Defence on social media but that didn’t make it into the article. So in the interest of full transparency on potential conflicts of interest I’m posting it here. Yes, I have advised Singapore Ministry of Defence on social media, run numerous workshops for them over the years and wonder why our Australian Ministry of Defence are asking traditional media agency to advise them on social media instead of asking a local bona fide social media expert. No wonder I work overseas mostly. No sour grapes I promise- I’m enjoying California’s sunshine this week instead of Sydney’s weather.

‘No conflict’ over Defence Force social media probe

The Australian Defence Force has sidestepped conflict of interest concerns over a social media review awarded to George Patterson Y&R, the advertising behemoth that also handles the ADF’s coveted $40 million recruitment account.

The “external” Facebook and Twitter probe, part of a suite of inquiries into the ADF following the notorious Australian Defence Force Academy Skype scandal, was announced by Defence Minister Stephen Smith last Friday and will deliver its findings by the end of July.

But social media experts say that not only is an ad giant like George Patterson an inappropriate choice for a risk review, but that the firm is unlikely to provide frank and fearless advice given the ADF shunts it a significant proportion of its profits. (more at CrikeyOpens in a new tab.)

and my quote

But Australia’s leading social media consultant and keen Twitter user Laurel Papworth questioned whether the conglomerate was the best fit for the job, noting the “agency-created social media” chafed with the “socially-created media” at the heart of the ADF’s troubles.

“It is surprising that the ADF are using a traditional agency to review the shift,” she said, with the situation akin to “asking the fox to review and report on the hen house”.

“Agencies are the most at risk in the new social economy, and given the depth of experience in Australia of non-agency social media expertise, I wonder just how much consideration was given by the ADF to who would head up this review before giving it to George Patts,” she added. (more at CrikeyOpens in a new tab.)

What do you think by the way? Should ADF use their traditional media agency to report on social media? Given that social media means society mediums, will an agency cover more than PR, marketing and advertising? Can George Patts lead on metagovernment, wikileaks, emergency reporting, monitoring, organisational social networks, online community structures, h.r. guidelines, digital ethnography and 50 million other non-agency areas, or do those subjects belong in the social media vertical? Lemme know.

If you are undecided, have a look at traditional agency vs social media agency and social media is much more than media ?

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

10 thoughts on “Australia Defence Force ADF and social media

  1. Australia Defence Force ADF and social media: When Crikey asked me for a quote on The Australian Defence Force e… http://bit.ly/jXeSnx

  2. Hi Laurel,
    I’d be curious to know if the audit included the work other agencies have done for them. I know media agency UM created a navy recruitment game just recently and I’m sure there was a large social media component of this campaign. It would seem like quite a conflict of interest to me.

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