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NATO Needs Social Media More Than It Needs Them

NATO acknowledge the power of social media

NATO's head of social media Franky Saegerman has released an incredible statement about social media last week. Saegerman has argued that organisations that ignore the power of social media run the risk of having their agenda hijacked.

NATO and Social Media
Source: orientalreview.com

The head of social media at NATO has worked there for 20 years, and he said how the organisation has embraced social media, and is now using it to control the messages sent around its activities. Speaking at Wednesday’s Connect via HootSuite conference, Saegerman stated, “It is crucial that you are out in-front managing your message so that you do it yourself; if you don’t, someone will do it for you and not always with the best intentions.”

He then released the strong statement that, “NATO needs social media more than social media needs NATO.”

NATO’s acknowledgement of the power that social media is great, but the organisation still limits itself to four Twitter accounts and does not allow its staff members to have their own. Saegerman took an opportunity to joke about this during the conference, “NATO trusts it’s staff with missiles and rocket launchers, but they don’t really trust us on Twitter.”

The alliance has a separate social account for its secretary general to allow him to distribute a “personal message or angle” that has not been approved by 28 member states.

Traditionally, NATO’s Facebook account was only used as a “copy and paste” version of the official website, but since the strategy has been changed, their traffic has dramatically increased. The strategy was altered in April 2013 to allow creative posting.

“We are trying to do more brand awareness, telling people what NATO is all about, and increase online engagement and reach opinion-formers to amplify our messages and especially reach the younger audience,” Saegerman added.

NATO and Social Media
Source: scionsocial.com

As an example of how social media has taken off for NATO, he cited a Facebook post regarding a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at NATO headquarters, in which flags were flown at half-mast.

On that post he said, “Our press office wasn't convinced this would fly or have any effect but it is still one of the most shared posts we have had.”

The audience that NATO’s social media accounts pull in are from a variety you would not expect, as the top three nations in terms of NATO Facebook fans are Romania, Albania, and Turkey.

In addition to this, a large part of their YouTube audiences are located in Pakistan, and Saegerman explains that, “Not everybody likes [NATO], but they keep an eye on what we say and what we are doing.”


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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NATO Needs Social Media More Than It Needs Them Reviewed by Alex Smith on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 Rating: 5
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