Technology and social media are key for many groups and organizations hoping to get their messages out.
For the Army’s Command Sgt. Maj. Tabitha Gavia, of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, understanding this point is crucial.
Gavia visited Temple’s recruiting station inside the Temple Mall, at 311 S. 31st St., on one of her stops at Texas recruiting centers. Her tour through Texas started Monday in Dallas and came through Temple on Tuesday, with the plan of continuing down toward Austin.
Part of this tour was to talk about Army recruitment objectives, which they failed to meet in 2018.
Gavia said the meeting of the goals this past fiscal year was in part due to a focus on social media and community interactions. In fiscal year 2019, the Temple recruiting office enlisted 91 people, the most the office has seen in the past 10 years.
Many of the recruiters in the Temple office now use social media sites such as Instagram, which Gavia has an account on.
“We believe in embracing social media,” Gavia said. “We have, in every one of our enlisted recruiting battalions, a virtual recruiting station, and we put those in place last year. Now, every recruiter in our command is strongly encouraged to use social media to recruit.”
Local recruiter Staff Sgt. Kaylen Jones said the use of the internet and social media has been a big help for getting out the word about the military and the Army. Not only can these social media platforms get more views than traditional visits, Jones said these platforms let some who might not want to reach out in person instead contact him online.
Jones said he interacted with students who might not have wanted to approach him while he was at school, but later saw him on a social media platform and felt more comfortable there.
“There is increased attention being focused, from the youth in the local area, on social media,” Jones said. “A young man might not want to talk to me at my table set up during lunch. But then he might be on his timeline, see that I put in a friend of his, and go, ‘I feel comfortable now talking to him.’”
While social media helps connect the recruiters and possible recruits, other community engagement teams put on by the Army help advertise to many around the country.
Gavia said the efforts include an esports team, composed of highly skilled videogame players, and a warrior fitness team, which has many different members who compete in physical competitions.
Events with either of these teams can bring millions of views to the Army and allow potential recruits to be exposed to the idea of joining the military.
Gavia has been in the military for 31 years and worked in recruiting before social media. She said recruiting now is worlds different from what it was in the late 1990s when she was last in this position.
“What the digital plane does for us, it helps us make contact faster and with more people,” Gavia said. “We can get 140 million impressions in a day, where people have seen an Army logo on something (with esports), where recruiting in the late ’90s, we were talking about endless hours on the phone or walking the sidewalk.”
All of these methods help bring potential recruits in, where recruiters are able to tell them about how the Army can help them with career paths to improve their lives.