Introducing our BTB Blog series!

Wearing my “famed” GSF branded shirt with our event coordinator, Ranae!

BTB is a new Blog Series from the Global SOF Foundation’s Director of Marketing—Chelsea Hamashin, a.k.a me!

BTB has different meanings for different people. In the SOF world, it means “Blind Transmission Broadcast,” which is a type of messaging system used in clandestine operations.

Its most common use is in the business world, where BTB stands for “Business-to-Business”. Not quite as cool sounding, but definitely essential to the corporate members of our Foundation…and oftentimes, those BTB relationships result in capabilities for special operations.

Lastly, BTB can mean “back to basics”, which we feel is important in this ever-growing and complex world. We forget why we’re doing something or we lose sight of the purpose behind actions.

So, while that might seem a bit all over the map in terms of what the BTB Blog Series will be about, it’s actually pretty simple. This blog will discuss messaging and communication platforms at the heart of our SOF network, and how the Foundation is using them to keep that network thriving.

The Changing World of Media and Continuing Education

Unless you’ve somehow managed to stay “unplugged” this century, you’ve probably noticed how quickly the way we consume information has changed, and as a result, organizations have had to change the way they feed us that information.

When I completed my master’s degree in Marketing in 2011, I hadn’t even taken a single class on social media. I don’t think USF even offered those courses yet. I’d just gotten my first smartphone, having held off because I didn’t see what I’d use it for that my flip phone couldn’t do. I still had cable and watched the news on TV. The point is, things have changed a lot since my last bout of formal education, and I’m sure in seven more years we’ll be getting information in other new and complex ways.

You can easily get opinions on the latest trends in the marketing world—an overwhelming amount of webinar options, certifications that may or may not have value, and marketing companies who want you to pay them (a lot) for their professional services. It’s challenging to decide where to put your time…especially when there’s already so much to do to keep your communication machine rolling.

Which brought me to last week’s Digital Summit in Tampa. This conference, which was focused on software, techniques, platforms, and more in digital marketing, seemed like a great opportunity to get updates on the industry from real leaders on a huge variety of topics.

So, I went. And I learned. A lot.

The Digital Summit Tampa: Taking Notes and Deep Breaths

As a one-woman marketing show for a globally-focused foundation, my to-do lists stay pretty long, so I grew progressively stressed during this 1.5 day conference. There are so many things that belong in a perfect marketing campaign, from SEO Optimization to videos to immersive events…it can be a bit overwhelming to think about. Especially when you already thought you were doing something well (hey, we have short videos) only to learn that the ideal video length is 16-23 seconds (ack!).

However, it was an extremely valuable event and I’m glad I went, so I wanted to share a few of my biggest take-aways with you, our global SOF network, to help you get your company/ unit/ association/ personal messaging to your core audience.

1.   The Power of Influencers: Unfortunately, we’ve all at least heard of the Kardashians and they’re really the go-to example when you think of “influencers” on social media (specifically on Instagram). Apparently, they’ve make big bucks just by doing things like posting a photo with a certain kind of jeans on or drinking a certain brand’s beverage in a photo. But not only do those simple photos make big bucks for them, they have been shown to make big bucks for the company, as well.  

Now it doesn’t make sense for the GSF, or probably any of our Corporate Partners, to work with a Kardashian as an influencer, but there are active defense and policy leaders and advocates who could make an impact for your brand with the right messaging.

2.   Positive Story-Telling: Marketing needs to look less like marketing. Influencers subtly promoting your brand doesn’t look like marketing, which is part of what makes it so successful. But you don’t need someone with a million followers, just a story that could draw a million followers.

Ads and promotions with faces are proving to the be most effective, as they humanize the subject and people react to that more. Using a recurring person and following their storyline is a good way to draw people in and keep their attention.

Luckily at the GSF we have a number of good news stories, and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you all!

3.   Facebook isn’t dead: People like to say that it is, but it isn’t, at least not yet. Despite the millennial surge toward Instagram and Snapchat, it still holds true that most people in the U.S. have a Facebook account, and 1 in every 5 pages viewed on the Internet is a Facebook page. Whoa.

Facebook has made some changes to its algorithm, however. As a result, we’re changing the way we post, (no more links that send people away from Facebook… apparently they don’t like that!), share more short videos and gif images, and update some of our info to make it more Facebook-friendly.

4.   Segmentation & Personalization:  Most people know by now, even if you aren’t in marketing, that no single message is for “everyone”. Several presenters talked about the importance of segmenting your audience and personalizing your content for them, but in more detail than previously preached.

If you want to have meaningful contact with someone, messaging should be specific to their relationship with you and your organization. So instead of segmenting by say, Members and Non-Members, the pros recommend that you go even further. So now, thinking about one group of people might be as specific as GSF Members who were in the Army and attended the Bucharest Symposium as an Exhibitor!

It’s a lot of work to get there, but this is how successful companies are keeping their networks engaged and feeling appreciated. We hope to make this a staple of our messaging strategies.

5.   Get your SEO Right: Don’t be afraid of the marketing jargon—SEO just stands for Search Engine Optimization… meaning what you can do to make sure your website is the number one hit when words important to you are Googled (or Bing’ed or Yahoo’d, for whoever is still doing that). While it is a marketing function, it’s important for more people to know about, especially if you work for a small business that does many things in-house.

The key is key words… and making sure the words you want people to search and find you are on your page as much as possible. There’s definitely more to it than that though, and even though this article is a few years old, it’s still considered a gold standard for SEO guidance.

We do pretty well on the “Global SOF” keyword… so thank you all for that!

More BTB Topics to Come

This may not seem like the most SOF-focused blog, but the real meat of the GSF is connecting people. If you haven’t seen our mission statement, or at least not for a while, it is to:

“build and grow an international SOF network of military, government, commercial, and educational stakeholders in order to advance SOF capabilities and partnerships to confront global and networked threats.”

We can’t build that network without talking to people, so this focus on our outreach, and the outreach skills of our network, is how we will continue to grow!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or comments, or feel free to reach out to me directly.

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