To provide NATO with understanding and tools for the training of its social media users.


This concept addresses the training of both private and corporate users of social media of the NATO Command Structure and Force Structure.

This concept does not address the train the trainer aspects.


To identify and explain the aspects relevant to the training of NATO Social Media users.

To provide the framework for the design of courseware elements for this training.


This document is the result of an online workshop hosted by ACT Innovation Hub from March to Sep 2013. It was collectively drafted by the following Innovation Hub members.


Giulia Aubry, David Bailey, Paola Casoli, Ric Cole,  Serge Da Deppo, John Dannon, Candace Eshelman-Haynes, Rick Galleano, Luise-Beatrice Istrate, Ulrich Janssen, Michael Laukner, Raymond Levet, Maria-Rosa Moroso, Clare Parker, Peter Reynolds, Frank Schiller, Kristina Soukupova, Andy Williams.

Background : the specificity of social media

The new information and communication technologies and the resulting social dynamics, not only revolutionized the communication environment, but have actually transformed the society almost all over the  world and beyond the cyber domain.


In the past, the communication environment was polarized between two groups of people.

  • The huge majority who would not be able to use the mass media and would communicate with only a very limited number of people at a time. These people would receive the messages from the mass media, in a passive mode.
  • The tiny minority of those able to use the mass media and to convey a message to a large amount of people, but without any proximity or interaction with their large audience.


Due to social media, today’s communication environment has specific characteristics:

  • Anybody can communicate with the whole cyber world and beyond.
  • Communication is highly dynamic, it allows and calls for close interaction with the audience.
  • Leveraging and embodying the right of free speech, social media has become an essential component of the society.


This environment brings new opportunities but also new risks.

Opportunities inherent to social media

  • Time and space : the outreach of social media goes as far as the internet and the cellular phone go. No other media can reach that far out and such a large audience. In addition, the social media content is quasi permanent. It stays available and potentially impactful for extended periods of time. Social media content can be referred to, but also linked to and accessed from anywhere on the internet. It is omnipresent.
  • Engagement : unlike other mass media, the social media allows and calls for a close engagement between the message sender and receiver. This gives the possibility to engage any receiver in a personal way and so amplify the impact of the message. Social media is then much more influent than other media, and can faster create a network of active supporters who will share the message with even broader audiences.

Risks of social media

  • The social media environment is like an open market where every ideas and messages get equal opportunity to reach broad audiences and have significant impact. It is by nature a competitive ecosystem where asymmetric adversaries are as powerful as NATO and nations.
  • The social media environment cannot be controlled (without violating democratic values).
  • The social media may invade and expose all spaces such as individual privacy and institutional secrecy.
  • No one participating in the western social life can chose to escape the effects of social media.

Why to train? – The requirement

Just like it has chosen to use the traditional media to implement its communication strategy, NATO needs to implement it through the social media as well. Should NATO fail to properly use the social media to its advantage, this space would be left free to use by NATO’s adversaries and negative messaging and ideas would proliferate and undermine the Alliance public support in operational theatre, within NATO nations, and within the global public opinion.

In addition, failing to be present in the social media environment would cut NATO off the populations it is meant to protect.

Finally, the need for NATO to be able to understand and efficiently interact with the human environment through the social media has been identified as a Defense Planning Capability Development Priority (Joint Communication CDP).

Who to train?

There are two categories of NATO Social Media users. The private users, who make use of social media in their own name, freely and for personal reasons; and the corporate users who are mandated by NATO or one nation to use the SM on their behalf. Every NATO staff is exposed to the effects of social media and is a potential private user of them. So, every NATO staff needs to get the adequate training as early as possible in his/her career.

What to train?

The private user must be trained to use the social media in a way that will not harm NATO, Nations or himself/herself. Since he/she potentially constitutes an important node of NATO network, he/she must also be trained in how to be supportive of NATO goals while using social media.

The private user training consists in :

1.      Generalities

1.1.   Characteristics and power of social media

1.2.   NATO Organizational culture and narrative

1.3.   The NATO SM strategy/guidelines

1.4.   Security – OPSEC and safe environment

2.      The framework

2.1.   A code of conduct - and legal aspects - do's and don'ts

2.2.   The NATO SM users network

2.3.   Crisis management

3.      The tools

3.1.   Psycho-social aspects of social media interaction

3.2.   Specificities of main SM tools (technology and social dynamics)

4.      The techniques

4.1.   How to tell a story, create narrative with SM

4.2.   Technical use of new media and digital tools

The corporate user should first take the non-expert user training. This should be complemented with training modules specific to his/her job. These modules may include :

  • Situation SM analysis, tools and techniques
  • How to design a SM strategy
    • for operation support
    • for other than operational applications
  • How to support an operation
  • SM action planning
  • Use SM for engagement
  • Use SM for understanding
  • Crowd Mapping
  • SM community management
    • ​content
    • technology
  • Analysis
    • ​Target audience analysis
    • Effects assessment
    • Monitoring/auditing​
  • Specific intelligence analysis and SM use
  • Specific PSYOPS analysis and SM use


How to train?

The specificity of social media training is that an important part of it should consist in coached live practice; in which the trainee actually publishes the communication material he/she has crafted, implements the engagement plan, and dynamically engages and interacts with the audience in the real cyber world.

Other DOTMLPFI considerations


SM doctrinal framework is dependent on the overarching Strategic Communication doctrinal framework. But because of its specificities, social media deserves doctrine and guidelines of its own. SM use in NATO is currently lacking reference documents such as policy, guidelines, or doctrine. This concept and the courseware elements it proposes could serve as the basis for a NATO SM use doctrine and guidelines.


Taking advantage of new media and social learning, this training does not need be bound to any specific education or training institutions. The use of social media could be taught anytime anywhere. However, since most of NATO new recruits are already social media users, the training should be provided as early as possible in their career by the national education institutions. The corporate user modules could be included into other functional or job specific trainings at the relevant institutions. Both private and corporate users courses should also be provided over the Internet to all NATO personnel.


  • Hardware

In an on-site training setting, course hardware consist in basic video, picture and audio recording devices (computer, still camera, video camera, cell phone, smart phone) that could be shared among a few trainees for the content creation; and at least one web communication device (cell phone, smart phone, computer) per trainee.

In a remote training setting, all participants should have access to all the devices listed above. In addition, remote training hardware is necessary (to be detailed)


  • Web tools/softwares

Trainees should become familiar with at least one free tool from each of the following categories :

- Video (ex: Youtube)

- Image (ex: Instagram)

- Text (ex: Twitter)

- Audio (ex: Audioboo)

- Community building (ex: Facebook)

- Management (ex: Hootsuite)



All must be done to ensure that messages from various NATO SM users are not conflicting. While it is desirable that all NATO SM users know and abide with the same SM communication strategy, the number and diversity of SM users together with the nature of the SM interaction make that having a well-designed and shared strategy is not enough. To mitigate the negative impact of conflicting messaging, it is important to develop a specific attitude among the NATO SM users, it could also be called a culture, of sharing and supporting the common cause and helping each other in this task; which will self-regulate the NATO SM messaging. The concretization of such a self-regulated environment supposes that all the NATO SM users are part of a network where they see what others do, support it or correct it if needed. The creation of such a culture and such a network need to be part of the NATO SM users training.


serge.dadeppo's picture


Mon, 07/08/2013 - 13:43


The first version of the draft concept is availabe here above.

Feel free to comment and also to edit it (click "edit" button under the title)

The text contains a few specific questions I would appreciate your helping to answer.


RL's picture


Wed, 07/10/2013 - 16:36



I believe one of the challenges associated with the use of social media is time management: it really can be a time-consuming activity. May be training should help the user identify the involvement that can reasonably be taken and make the most of the time spent on social media.


Raymond Levet

ICA (OF-5), France

Scientific Advisor to SACT 

Andy's picture


Tue, 07/09/2013 - 09:28



An interesting document and good initiative!  I have just two comments.

1) Why refer to the impact only on western society? It seems to be a much more global phenomenon--1 in 6 people in world on Facebook, the impact on the middle east uprisings etc....

2) The list of training ideas is relevant, but it seems to be orientated towards use / dangers / opportunites of social media for strategic communications.  I would like to see guidance on how social media can be used for supporting general project work in ACT (team collaboration, sharing, marketing of products and events). I'm already starting to see the use of LinkedIn for internal project team work (by  forming closed groups where discussion and documents can be shared).  Linked IN, Twitter, Facebook etc. could be used to market ACT activities related to project work (e.g. advertising new products, reports, conferences).  While this gets back into the overall strategic communication issue, I would like to see specific guidance on this issues.  My branch has already made use of Linked In to advertise our Annual OA Conference, and it would be nice to extend this to Facebook, Twitter, instagram etc.   


Frank.Schiller's picture


Tue, 07/09/2013 - 12:37



Great initiative. Thanks for all your efforts so far. 

A couple of remarks from my side: 

I'd agree with Andy: The training concept should first and foremost encourage staff members to use SM for the benefit of the Command. We shouldn't focus too heavily on dangers and risks (without neglecting their existence). I strongly believe in stating the purpose first. So, make sure staff members understand what ACT is trying to achieve with the use of SM and how they can play their role to support SACT's mission. Let staff members know what the left and right border is (do's and don'ts) so that they feel safe in what they are doing. However, avoid being too descriptive in how to do it! There are different styles on how to use social media. It all depends on the receiver. There is no 'one size fits all'. Incorporate branding issues like Corporate Identity and Corporate Design. To avoid conflicting messages, we internally need to make sure to create narratives which staff members can relate to. Once a narrative has been understood, the staff member can put it in his/ her words to bring it across to his/ her network. I wouldn't care too much about the wording as long as the overall story is accurate and reflects what we are trying to achieve. 

Please keep all these good thoughts coming. 



Frank Schiller | Corporate Communications | ACT - 10 Years of NATO Transformation

serge.dadeppo's picture


Tue, 07/09/2013 - 15:21


Andy and Frank,

You are totally right, this training is targeting the use of SM for strategic communication and not for corporate communication.

Corporate communication is a part that definitely needs to be developped; but It seems that there is not enough material to do this yet.

How would you see this evolve?


serge.dadeppo's picture


Fri, 07/12/2013 - 12:12


It needs to be kept in mind that this draft concept is mostly not targeting NATO Transformation Command (ACT) personnel, but any NATO social media user.

Any ACT specific considerations are relevant to the discussion, but might need separate specific documents addressing them.

As explained in the Doctrine paragraph, guidance documents (organizational policies, approved narratives …) are lacking, in ACT and many other place in NATO. It would be nice to work on this shortfall; and maybe open a new thread of discussion for it.


Frank.Schiller's picture


Tue, 07/09/2013 - 16:32


Alright. That's the point to define the purpose of what we are trying to achieve by using Social Media. 

My vision here is pretty simple: ACT staff members are "brand ambassadors" who are empowered to engage with defined stakeholder groups, advancing SACT's goals and objectives and supporting his mission. 

I believe, one can't differentiate SM for StratCom and SM for CorpComms. Define the purpose is key. 

Frank Schiller | Corporate Communications | ACT - 10 Years of NATO Transformation


serge.dadeppo's picture


Fri, 07/12/2013 - 12:14


Indeed there are no clear boundaries in the information environment between Stratcom and Corporate Com. In our case, the theory says that corporate com happens between ACT staff while stratcom involve outsiders.; the innovation hub does stratcom while the Linkedin ACT group does corporate com. We know however that the Innovation Hub could also play a corporate com too, since ACT people are on it. Anyhow, I see a very different approach and use of the tools, and even different tools for corporate com. Some of it was addressed by the following posts.

These aspects deserve more exploration.



Tue, 07/09/2013 - 17:11


First, a reminder to everyone that this is a concept for training.  It is seperate from policy or guidance, but should be tightly coordinated.


*You might consider dropping the term new media as it has been around for a several years now.  

*It seems a little broad in scope in that you are addressing several specific disciplines and general users.  General users should be addressed via HR (code of conduct) and Security Awareness briefings that are supposed to be completed every year as part of the counter intelligence and information security programs.  It is correct that these both need to be updated but that is the sort of thing I would like to see in the form of a point paper or recommendations to those communities rather than something covered in seperate training efforts.  

*Rather than addressing specific military disciplines (Intel or PSYOP)  I would like to see this training concept stick with generic level engagement and awareness/analysis and let the various disciplines take it from there.  

*I would also limit mentioning tools in a concept document.  Tools/platforms change regularly, so should only be addressed generically (categorically) in the concept.

*I would also like some review from the legal community as there are several rulings from the American Labor Relations Board about the legality of certain restrictions on speech, but I have no idea how or if those ruling affect NATO labor practices in Norfolk or what protections may or may not exist in Europe.  For instance, in the US it has been determined that companies cannot interfere with an employees right to free speech but soldiers in uniform are restricted from saying certain things.  I would want to know how this affects any social media policy or code of conduct ruling in ACT.

*Sprint has a program that allows employees to take training on a volunteer basis in order to become active advocates for the brand which is somewhat different from the monolithic approach of requiring significant training of every staff member.  While I agree that it is  important to use open and encouraging language, I definitely would prefer to let people decide for themselves the level of involvement they desire and then provide the appropriate additional training based on interest and willingness. Only those who wish to be advocates would need to take training beyond basic induction and security.

Now let me turn a question back to the community: Do you really think that a social media policy should address collaboration and coordination as well as engagement?  


Candace Eshelman-Haynes, Ph.D.

serge.dadeppo's picture


Wed, 07/31/2013 - 08:08


the legal aspects of SM could be approached through 3 questions

1. Am I violating any law/anyone's privacy?

2. How can my published content be abused?

3. What is important in the terms of use of the SM tools?


serge.dadeppo's picture


Wed, 07/31/2013 - 18:53


“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-

licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”



Thu, 08/08/2013 - 04:24




Thu, 08/08/2013 - 04:20


In answer to Candace's question: Do you really think that a social media policy should address collaboration and coordination as well as engagement?

In short, I think yes it should so as to provide governance/top-cover for users either tasked or seeking to use it in the course of their business actvities. i.e. supporting the Comprehensive Approach, CIMIC and PR interaction between NATO/CCOMC/etc with the 'Public'. Governance may both restrict or facilitate use, the trick therefore will be in the balance.



Wed, 07/24/2013 - 10:06


Hi to everyone, those following are some considerations I'd like to share with you:

1. why are we talking about social media users in Nato? Users need a policy to use personal social media or to consult them, I think that we must include also "potential community managers" that include Social Media strategist and operators. Community Managers is the term that in Italy we use for people that manage institutional twitter accounts and facebook pages (as you know I'm the strategist and community manager of the Social Media of INPS, the european biggest institution of public welfare) and I think that this definition could be omnicomprensive also if we'd like to include some kind of "influence operations" in this training. I think that the communicity managers could be also the people you call "expert users" (I don't like this definition too much... are we sure that we can consider someone really an expert in social media :) )

2. Regarding to the discussion between social and new media, I prefer social as a part of the more complex new media system... For the moment I don't think we can consider blog or similar (Tumblr as a microblogging is different)

3. Regarding to the transformation of the western society, I think that it could be better to say "that has transformed the perception of the society in many parts of the world". I don't think that soicial media have the power to transform societies, we have always duscussed about the social media as a tool and their relations with perception that is also on eof the limits of the social media usage. Even if we talk about social media for social media we always underlined that they're a tool for a bigger communication strategy that could help to change societies

4. In the background I think we could add something on the role of cell phone (strictly related to the idea of social media) that could be one of the most interesting development of communication for social change strategy. I seuggest to everyone an interesting reading that couls help us to find the right wasy in which we can wrote this.

5. It is important to include in the new communication environment the elemnt of "speed" that change every part of it, not only because the world is more little than ever but because speed could also burn the news... It is very important: the more they're faster, the more we burn them... It is a fundamental reflection in social media approach

6. You know that I'm a social media narrative expert :) and I don't think that narrative is only a technique... We must consider narrative as a more complex element in social media strategies, something that is present in every phase since fundamental "Awareness" that it's not only related to awareness of the power of social media... I will add "awareness of our role in social media (that could be also related to psychological aspects of social media interaction) and our impact in social media environment". What I mean is that (for my direct experiences) could be very difficult to divide personal identity in social media with corporate indentity (let's us think to the case of the US embassy in Cairo). We need a work on ourselves that is very important when we're talking about identity. This element of identity must find a place in the training, at the beginning and in the psychoogical aspcts and it's strictly related also to narrative. We have two different level of narrative in social media: personal and corporate and it is not always simple to divide them. We must also study narrative of other actors in social media. I know that this could be complex and perhaps we can leave this aspect in the specific training (when we'll define the specific lessons/conferences/supporting materialsd) but it is important that we start do think since now to their presence.

5. We must also include in the ability of the communcity manager at the end of the course the elemnt of "Define a social media narrative" that is different from strategic narrative that could be given from the decision makers, it is the way in which community manager translate the Nato strategic narrative in everyday social media narrative

6. The training must include a practical activities that could be the creation of a facebook page or a twitter channel related to others topics but operating for a period. It is fundamental for engagement strategy! Without this it is not possible to understand the effectiveness of the training. I think that it is possible to immagine an online training if we add this pactical element with two conference at the beginning and at the end of the courses.

7. It is also important to create a Nato social media policy for users more friendly and direct.

Sorry if I was too log and boring :)


Giulia Aubry Social Media Strategist for Italian Government - Indipendent researcher in Communication for Social Change - Lecturer in Communication and Influence Operations for Italian Armed Forces

serge.dadeppo's picture


Wed, 07/24/2013 - 16:02


Thanks for your valuable input. It is not too long or boring.

We will take some time to exploit it though. Let's start with one first question.

What do you mean by "speed can burn the news"?


serge.dadeppo's picture


Thu, 07/25/2013 - 11:58


This is how we could integrate Giulia's input into the draft concept.

Community management" and "strategy could fall within the expert user category.

“How to design a SM strategy” is already there, so we could add up “community management” to the list. “studying others’ narrative” could also go there.

Narrative is more than just technique : The non-technical aspects of the narrative, and the additional aspect of identity could be addressed within the "1.2.   NATO Organizational culture”, or under the “2.Framwork”, or both.

“speed and news” as well as the “cell phone” deserve to be emphasized in the concept, but even more in the training material, probably under “3. The tools”



Fri, 07/26/2013 - 05:25


for me it's great! :)

Giulia Aubry Social Media Strategist for Italian Government - Indipendent researcher in Communication for Social Change - Lecturer in Communication and Influence Operations for Italian Armed Forces


Thu, 08/08/2013 - 05:06


3. I agree that Social Media doesn't provide the Power to transform society. What it does provide is the catalyst for whatever that Power is (already there) to better effect transformation upon a society.;-) In broad terms it is indeed a tool, just like the stone tablet, the telephone and the Internet to better facilitate communication and collaboration between people.

4. I think you are correct in surmising that physical User Appliances, particluarly more Portable Devices, will play a part in the way society as a whole wish to communicate, collaborate and share tacit knowledge and information. I think the question for us is how they they may be used in support of business activities and achieving business goals, whether it be humanitarian assistance, peace building, counter terrorism, etc.

5. I agree that speed is of the essence. Timely and relevant responses to engage and collaborate with communities is critical to achieve maximum influence and sought after effects. In crisis/disaster response the first few hours or day or two are the critical time frames in which to influence and direct effort. In PR terms it could be in the minutes and hours as on-line users are more demanding/expectant of timely response (impatience?!;-p). Social Analytics/Social Media Management tools are currently maturity capabilities to better support more effective communications, collaboration and timely and controlled sharing of tacit knowledge, information and resources between users and communities.

I agree with your other points over policy and need for training.

PS. not too long or boring. indeed this is useful affirmation of related work I'm doing in this area;-)


Tue, 08/13/2013 - 12:10


Reynolds it was a pleasure to read your comment! We agree almost on everything. One thing that we must consider - also in a course on social media - is the relation between the client (also when he is ur boss or the structure above) and the social media strategist or the community managers. Sometimes it culd be very difficult to explain to it what is possible to do and what can be useful and above all sustainable... I think that we can add a simple lesson (something as a short exercise or a video contribution) on negotiation between the so-called social media expert and the boss that only know superficial aspects :)

Giulia Aubry Social Media Strategist for Italian Government - Indipendent researcher in Communication for Social Change - Lecturer in Communication and Influence Operations for Italian Armed Forces


Wed, 08/14/2013 - 07:55


@giuliaaubry, you are most welcome!;-)
I think I understand what you're getting at... basically how/why an organisation (or indeed an individual) would want to or need to engage with others, be they customers, open community or opposing community.

The immediate problem is how to convince your Leadership of the necessity of undertaking corporate change to support greater use of Social Computing (most of us already do to a certain extent!). What are the business benefits? Financial? Quality? What are the initial costs and mid to long term savings that may be expected? How will SMM enhance on-going IKM efforts? etc.

I have come across some guidance both on Social Computing and on IKM that I'll try and dig out, but indeed I agree that this aspect should be incorporated into the training. NATO IKM is addressing a similar issue in it's own training materials.

FYI, in solutions development we use TOGAF as a framework and methodology to identify the Vision, Strategy, Processes, Requirements, Systems, etc. (Enterprise Architecture & Enterprise Information Architecture across People, Process, Information & Technology) to define and refine the problem space and as a means to control the transition from the current situation to the desired 'to-be' environment. Zachmann is another one I find very useful to frame the usual questions that need to be asked in this definition.


Thu, 07/25/2013 - 06:46


There is a connection between the speed whith whom the news travel troughe the web and their lifetime. With so many news and so fast (regarding to the time passing from the first pubblication to the general distribution), news and information that haven't an appeal (but also many of the ones who have appeal) and are not good related to the narrative (I suggest for this item the book "It was like a fever") don't succeed in surviving, they don't last the necessary time in order to have consequences on social cheange. And everyone of us know that social change need time in order to happen. This is one of the most important limit of social media and something with whom community managers must deal if they want to make communication on social media really effective.

I make a concrete example: I use social media for my public organization of welfare (INPS) and we work on message that has specific timing. So we create expectations toward the service that we'll deliver for a specific period. In this case we don't have to deal with the risk of "information/news burn-out" because we have a natural deadline and it is easier, In the meantime we have another startaegic message to widespread that it is to "build trust in a public institution in a moment of general institutional (and economic) crisis", so we have to accompany our fast information (that consider a deadline) with a long-durable message related to a more complex narrative without loosing it in the speed of the web communication that could be not so good to change society behaviour.

This is fundamental in social media communication. To give another example, in the Arab Spring, where the social media's role was overestimated, there were two effect: one short time effect related to mobilization and support to mass protest (where to meet, how to go, what to do...) and one related to the change. The first one was soon reached, the second one is really controversy as tou can easily see in what happened today in Egypt, Libya and so on. So you need a message that could last even after it was no more in the twitter trands :)

I hope it is more clear now :)

Giulia Aubry Social Media Strategist for Italian Government - Indipendent researcher in Communication for Social Change - Lecturer in Communication and Influence Operations for Italian Armed Forces


Tue, 08/13/2013 - 12:12


I think that it could be really interesting to use for the training on the "power of sharing" this presentation and in general give a look on that is full of interesting example and lesson learned on sharing in Social Media

Giulia Aubry Social Media Strategist for Italian Government - Indipendent researcher in Communication for Social Change - Lecturer in Communication and Influence Operations for Italian Armed Forces

serge.dadeppo's picture


Thu, 09/05/2013 - 17:10


The concept will be approved during the upcoming videoconference on

Thursday 12 Sep 09:00 to 11:00 (New York time) 15:00 to 17:00 (Brussels time).


- Concept Approval (Please provide your comments as soon as possible)

- Concept Implementation Plan

- Online Instructors Identification

- Course material gathering


Thu 12 Sep, 9-11 am (New York time) 15:00-17:00 (Brussels time)

Connectivity test open 20 minutes before the conference

How to participate?

Participate at (videoconference link to be provided soon)

Watch at

Interact through Twitter at @Innov8Hub #SM4nato