West Point shows military precision in its social media approach

West Point has its own YouTube channel.

Dean Tsouvalas, editor-in-chief of StudentAdvisor.com, interviewed Major Olivia Nunn, public affairs executive officer and social media chief at West Point – The United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.  West Point was ranked No. 9 on the Top 100 Social Media Colleges rankings released in fall 2011.

Founded in 1802, The United States Military Academy at West Point has gained a reputation for being one of the toughest educational institutions when it comes to admissions. And why shouldn’t its officials be selective?  They are responsible for training America’s top military officers.

Affectionately known as “The Long Gray Line,” West Point’s alumni include two presidents, three foreign heads of state, 18 astronauts, and a slew of notable generals including Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur, Norman Schwarzkopf, and David Petraeus. It comes as no surprise that the history department has adopted as its unofficial motto: “Much of the history we teach was made by people we taught.”

DT: How large is your social media team?

MN: Our team here at West Point is a team inside the public affairs office. My team is five people. I have four personnel who work for me in the social media team; we are responsible for not only social media on different platforms, but also how we present ourselves on the internet, specifically our website.

DT: Which department at West Point oversees your social media community?

MN: That’s us. Within the public affairs office, or PAO, I am the executive officer. We oversee social media for West Point because under the Department of the Army, one of the duties and responsibilities of a public affairs officer is to ensure that the information that you share with your readers and audiences is accurate, factual, truthful, and timely. And you are sharing your message that conveys what your leadership wants to convey.

DT: How many departments are engaged in social media for the academy?

MN: That’s a hard question to answer. Every academic office, and we have 13 academic departments, has a Facebook fan page to share with their specific audience about the things that they’re doing.

We also have other departments outside of academics. My job here in the Public Affairs Office is to ensure that we monitor their pages. We work with each of these agencies to ensure that their Facebook pages represent the information that the superintendent wants to share.

DT: Some of my favorite YouTube channels are from West Point. Can you tell me a little bit about them? What your involvements have been?

MN: On YouTube, the West Point Channel was started by a soldier of mine, Sergeant Alexandria Corneiro. She came up with the idea of wanting to provide a means of communicating with our audiences and giving what we say is an “Insider’s Look” to West Point. She created the channel on YouTube and created the show called The Point. You could see an evolution of our show if you go and click on  The Point from the first episode to the most current episode.

DT: How is social media making a difference at West Point?  What aspects of social media and tools do you think are very effective for your community?

MN: I think social media, and I think for any community particularly here at West Point, is a very effective tool. It’s a tool we do leverage to be able to communicate to our local community as well as our extended community, which wants to know about West Point. They are connected to us because they were once here, they are a graduate, or they are a donor or they are parents of a current cadet.

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