When Spc. Jay Crimmins created an Instagram account two years ago to document the Delaware Army Aviation units, he never meant for it to become a recruitment tool. And yet – “We’ve got a really cool job, and we just wanted to show people that it’s a lot of fun,” said Crimmins, a helicopter repairer who currently is stationed in Kosovo with the 3rd Bn., 238th Aviation Regt., General Support Aviation Bn. “I mean, it’s still the Army, there’s negatives mixed in with positives, but at the end of the day, you’re getting paid to fly helicopters.”
Maj. Bernie Kale, director of public affairs for Delaware National Guard, said the public affairs office routinely monitors social media and kept coming across posts from Crimmins’ Delaware Army Aviation profile.
“It certainly piqued our interest considering the amazing imagery, the way they had a sense of humor about things without going too far over the line,” Kale said.
The PAO office then reached out to Crimmins to use some of his images for their own social media accounts.
“I think that a lot of the best sort of recruiting material is not blatant recruiting material,” Kale said.
And that’s something recruiters have embraced, according to Crimmins.
“We’ve gone back and forth both in person and virtually and I’ve been told that it’s helped them give examples of things that we do on a regular basis,” he said. “So, that is a nice byproduct.”
The content has grown to showcase tongue-in-cheek humor in the form of captions, but as with the recruiting aspect, humor was not the intent.
“Me personally, I like to think I’m relatively funny,” Crimmins said. “So that’s kind of where the captions come from. I’ve talked to some people within social media marketing spaces, and I’ve come to agreement with them that one of the hardest things to come up with is captions in general.”
But, put simply, humor causes engagement.
“If it’s something that makes you laugh, if it’s something that causes you to leave a comment, then I’m increasing the engagement on the page,” Crimmins said, “and I’m working toward Instagram’s algorithm to drive extra traffic there.”
While the account is unofficial, Crimmins said he has been given “a lot” of leeway.
“That’s basically because I haven’t put my foot in my mouth so far,” Crimmins said. “I mean, to be completely honest, it was something that the command team has embraced because I think they enjoy it as well.”
In addition to benefits for the Guard and its units – whether deployed or stateside – Crimmins said the account helps families to keep up with what the work their relatives are involved in.
“It’s not all from the deployed environment, but [it is] a regular reminder of this is what my loved ones are doing overseas, even if it’s just for a couple people, I think that’s helpful,” Crimmins said. “If a soldier in the unit is in one of the pictures and it gets out there and it gets some traction, there has to be a sense of accomplishment there.”
Even still, Crimmins said, he doesn’t have a “set purpose” going forward with the account itself, but more with aviation as a whole.
“I would like to see aviation grow within the state as this kind of thing has evolved,” Crimmins said. “It was never really supposed to be a recruiting tool and it’s become one. If I can help the community that I really, really love being a part of grow and continue, then I will do my best to do that.”
And all indications thus far, he said, are that it’s helping.
“There are a lot of people within the state that still don’t know that we have an aviation unit,” Crimmins said. “So, to get that word out and engage with people, I think that’s the goal.”