The US Army has launched a high-profile online recruitment drive, which is seeing them take full advantage of the recruitment power of social media and video streaming sites.
Video advertisements posted on YouTube and linked through to sites like Facebook and Twitter emphasise the online portals available through which recruits can join up. Lieutenant General. Benjamin C. Freakley, who commands the Army Accessions Command, which oversees recruitment, said highlighting the goarmy.com website is tapping to the channels young men and women are most familiar with these days.
"We're working hard to increase our social media," he said. "We fully recognise that young people TiVo over commercials or are multitasking on their smartphones when the commercials come on."
They are not skimping on the talent they are using to create the adverts either, with one of the main voices used being that of actor Gary Sinise, most familiar for his roles in the television series CSI:New York and as Lieutenant Dan in the Oscar-winning Forrest Gump.
The army has also signed a deal with the distributors of the new sure-to-be-blockbuster X-Men: First Class film. Users of the army's Facebook recruitment page will be able to view exclusive footage and previews of the film prior to its release this summer as, according to Lt. Gen. Freakley, there are more similarities than most people think between the superheroes and the soldiers.
"The movie is about young people who are ordinary doing extraordinary things," he said. "Ordinary people come in the Army and do extraordinary things every day."
Geoff Newman from online recruiter RecruitmentGenius.com points to similar success in the UK’s military with social media.
“Similar activity has already been seen by all divisions of the military with games such as ‘Start Thinking Soldier’. Even our domestic secret service, MI5, are now using online games and social media. If done well, it can be engaging, reach a diverse audience whilst also helping in selection by quantifying relevant skills.