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Love it or leave it, social media is here to stay. It’s just a fact of life, and the newest generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and, yes, Space Force Guardians, who have grown up with it are not likely to stop posting just because they signed an enlistment contract. 

That’s why the Army now has a guide to living your life online. Said handbook will provide “guidance and recommendations on how you can become a more effective communicator and representative of the U.S. Army.” And how should you do that? Apparently by becoming a brand ambassador for the Army and saying nice things about military service.

Scrolling through the guidebook, there are tips on “How to build your brand” on Instagram, and “Social marketing through analytics” on Twitter. 

Many of the “pro tips” on using social media are related to how to expand your presence. So the Army does have an interest in influencing, they just make sure that the influence has nothing bad to say about the Army. 

A lot of it is useful. Whether or not you like it, if you present yourself online as a soldier then you’re representing yourself as a soldier, and that means you’re speaking for the Army — particularly when you mess up. Some of the ways to avoid running afoul of the Army’s social media guidelines include: Not posting your precise location online while deployed overseas; not protesting while in uniform, and not saying anything so inflammatory that it becomes a news story unto itself.

Despite its potential to give the Army a black eye, social media is ubiquitous, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It can be a recruiting tool. It can be a resource for mental health when the military itself isn’t providing it. It can be an outlet for senior leaders to better connect with the troops under their command. It’s also been a space for people to call out a toxic leadership environment, as many service members did with the #IAmVanessaGuillen hashtag. 

And it’s always going to be a source of humor. Is it any surprise that the Army has had both a “TikTok First Sergeant” and a “TikTok Sergeant Major?”

Social media is where plenty of the troops are. And this is at a time when the military is finding it increasingly hard to find those troops. 

This apparently leaves the Army with one request for soldiers online: post about Army life, but make sure to do so in a positive way. In other words, the Army seems to be saying: Here is how to increase your Twitter followers, but only tweet about the good stuff. Build your brand on Instagram, but make sure it is a good and positive one. 

So if you are going to keep posting, the guidance is clear. Keep at it, but in the way that the Army wants. Be positive and build your brand as a soldier in the Army. You might even become the face of dozens of romance schemes.

You can find the Army’s full social media guide here.

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