Hello Everyone! Hope you are having a productive week of revision 🙂 Here’s a snippet of my assignment on The Singapore Army.
The Singapore Army
(Image from The Singapore Army's Facebook Page)
Training to be soldiers, fight for our land
Once in our lives, two years of our time
Have you ever wondered, why must we serve?
Because we love our land, and we want it to be free to be free…
Sounds familiar to you? This is a song familiar to any Singaporean man who has been through National Service (NS). The words ‘Have you ever wondered, why must we serve?’ reflect the thoughts not uncommon to many Singaporean teens who are required to sacrifice two years of their lives for the nation. In this paper, we aim to study the attitudes towards NS and how social media can be used to address the concerns.
From my analysis of forums, newspaper articles and papers published by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), here are my findings about NS sentiments in Singapore:
- Many pre-enlistees experience a lot of fear and insecurity, as they do not know what to expect
- The social aspect of NS like instilling values, and being given the opportunity to transform from boys to men is perceived to be more important
- NSmen perceive that appreciation of their efforts from the public is lacking
Synthesising the proposed solutions to the above problems, we can improve the negative sentiments regarding NS through answer the following research questions:
- How can MINDEF use social media platforms to address fears of NS pre-enlistees?
- How can MINDEF use social media platforms to increase information exchange between current/past enlistees and pre-enlistees?
- How can MINDEF use social media platforms to provide social recognition for enlistees?
Analysis of Social Media Usage
Facebook: From observation, many of the commenters are not first-time or one-time commenters, but they comment multiple times on different posts, either to show support to current soldiers or to share experiences. This means that Facebook is able to keep users engaged enough to return multiple times. Facebook’s ability to build an online community that can encourage and support each other presents a huge potential we can try to develop.
Instagram: The informal nature of Instagram enables them to share more personal stories relating to army life, and such posts have garnered the most engagement. In addition, Instagram is successful in getting users to use this hashtag to share more about their personal army stories. Instagram has great potential in getting users to share personally about their experience in NS.
Twitter: Used for formal information. However, it appears to be defunct.
Strategy 1: #TekongTipsTuesday on Facebook
Issue addressed: Alleviating fears among pre-enlistees
Leveraging on the present online community for support: The Singapore Army will generate a post with #TekongTipsTuesday to encourage the fan community to share about Basic Military Training (BMT) tips for the first phase of army life, which is at Tekong Island. This will be done on the Tuesday of the first week of every month, and the best tip will be featured in the next month. This works because of psychological ownership theory, and because the FB community is strong!
Strategy 2: #BoysToMen on Instagram
Issue addressed: Showcasing growth opportunities in NS
Leveraging on the more personal nature of Instagram sharing: Using this #BoysToMen, soldiers are encouraged to share their army transformation over Instagram. The Singapore Army’s Instagram account should be opportunistic in its use of timing to push for people to share their stories. For instance, they should make use of Passing-Out-Parades (POP) or Commissioning Parades when sentimentality runs highs. The post that generates the most likes will be featured on Facebook. To provide incentive, the entire section(!) will get a free Starbucks drink.
Strategy 3: #SoldierOn
Issue addressed: Lack of appreciation from public
Spreading awareness using people’s existing networks: The user is challenged to approach a soldier in uniform and show appreciation for their efforts in serving the country. This can come in the form of patting them on the shoulder with ‘good job!’ or buying them a drink. The user could either take a video of the act or take a selfie with the person, and with the person’s permission, upload it on Instagram with the tag #SoldierOn. Similar to the concept of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the user will then tag 3 people in his or her network to dare them to do the same by saying ‘I challenge so-and-so to encourage a soldier to #SoldierOn’.
These strategies, which take into account the current strategies of the ministry, directly answer the research question. Although the social media goals can help the soldiers feel more positive about NS, we need to bear in mind that the emphasis on self-fulfillment might dilute the message of the ministry. However, knowing that patriotism and self-fulfillment are not mutually exclusive, we need to maintain a balance between the two.
Thanks for your time everyone!
Yan Chongxi (Chelsea) G1