'We need social media more than it needs us,' says Nato's head of social

Nato's head of social media, Franky Saegerman, argues that organisations that ignore the power of social media run the risk of having their agenda hijacked.

Nato: posts a picture commemorating those who died on 9/11
Nato: posts a picture commemorating those who died on 9/11

Saegerman, who has been at Nato for 20 years, discussed how the organisation has embraced social media as a means of controlling the message around its activities. 

Speaking at yesterday’s Connect via Hootsuite conference, Saegerman said: "It is critical 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.

"Nato needs social media more than social media needs Nato."

Despite the organisation recognising the value of social media on a corporate level, it still limits itself to four official Twitter accounts and does not allow its staff to have their own.

Saegerman joked: "Nato trusts their staff with missiles and rocket launchers, but they don’t really trust us on Twitter."

Nato does have a separate social account for the Secretary General to allow them to distribute a "personal message or angle", which has not been approved by 28 member states.

Historically, the organisation’s Facebook account was used only as a "copy and paste" version of the website, but its traffic has rocketed since Nato changed its strategy in April 2013 to allow more creative postings.

Saegerman said: "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."

As an example, Saegerman cited a Facebook post regarding a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Nato headquarters in which flags were pictured at half-mast.

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."

Its social-media audience is coming from some unexpected locations. The top three nations in terms of Nato's Facebook fans are Romania, Albania and Turkey.

A large part of Nato's YouTube audience originates in Pakistan, and, as Saegerman explains, "not everybody likes [Nato] but they keep an eye on what we say and what we are doing".

Subscribe to Campaign from just £57 per quarter

Includes the weekly magazine and quarterly Campaign IQ, plus unrestricted online access.

SUBSCRIBE

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now
The top 10 brands favoured by Remainers and Brexiters
Shares0
Share

1 The top 10 brands favoured by Remainers and Brexiters

Marketers can learn about our divided nation by examining the brands that appeal across the voting referendum voting split, says Emily James, chief strategy officer at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

Just published